Can We Stop Taking the Libertarians Seriously Now?

It really is time for us to stop treating the Libertarians as a serious party nationally.

In 2016, the Republican and Democrat nominees for President both had historically high unpopularity ratings and historically high levels of distrust.

The best the Libertarians could do was nominate Gary Johnson, a pot head former governor, who then chose one of the most liberal Republicans to ever hold office in the United States, Bill Weld, as his running mate.

What did they then do?

First, they suggested that their Supreme Court picks would look more like Justice Breyer and retired Justice Souter, two of the least libertarian and most government authoritarian members of the Supreme Court in the last three decades.

Second, they defended big government policies and rejected religious liberty premised on the first amendment. They rejected the very libertarian concept of live and let live and let the market decide things.

Third, Bill Weld in particular became an apologist for Hillary Clinton.

They seemed to be more concerned with stopping Trump than getting themselves elected. They ran a bill board campaign and some really, really terrible radio advertisements.

In a year the Libertarians had a chance to make a play for a major share of the vote, they got 3.29% of the vote. It was, to be sure, the best showing for the Libertarians in terms of votes captured since Ed Clark and David Koch ran in 1980. Johnson and Weld topped them by about 100,000 votes.

But they could have done better had the Libertarians put on a more serious race.

The same holds true at the state level. Georgia is a terrific example. Allen Buckley ran as the Libertarian alternative to Senator Johnny Isakson and Democrat Jim Barksdale. In 2004 and 2008, Buckley was the Libertarian candidate and in 2008 served as a spoiler forcing a runoff between Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin. Instead of finding a new candidate, the Libertarians went back to Martin 2016 after having run him as their Lieutenant Governor choice in 2006.

The Libertarian Party claims itself as an alternative while some see it as a party wherein a protest vote can be registered against the two major parties. But it is hardly a protest when no one notices.

There is just no reason to treat the Libertarian Party seriously any more. It has been given multiple opportunities to grow up, but wants to remain in Neverland.

About the author

Erick Erickson

View all posts