Every election season
(in the US, at least), the question arises, "is this the one where a third party candidacy
will finally break through? Is this the one where the power structure
occasionally referred to as the 'Republicrat' duopoly will be shattered at last?" In 2012, former Governor Gary Johnson ran as the Libertarian Party
candidate for President, and though he managed to attain more votes than any previous candidate for that party, that still amounted to under 1% of the popular vote. So what makes 2016, when Johnson is again set to lead his party, different?
In a word: unpopularity
. Not with respect to Johnson, to be sure; he tends to be well-liked by the few who know him. It is, instead, the historic unpopularity of presumptive Democrat and Republican nominees Hillary Clinton
and Donald Trump
which has people searching for another option. When Gary Johnson is asked about in the polls (something the mainstream media
seems loathe today despite the near-certainty that Johnson will be an option on the ballot
in all fifty states), Johnson presently polls at around 10% (he polled at 11% in March
, holding steady at 10 % in May
-- and those numbers could very well go up. Though Bernie Sanders
is far from Libertarian, Sanders supporters who find no attraction in Clinton but loathe Trump's slams against Hispanics and Muslims and women may find Johnson to be a reasonable and peaceable alternative on several issues.
For example, whereas Clinton and Trump both remain resolutely anti-marijuana
(with Clinton presently favoring exceptions only for medicinal use), Johnson spent some time as CEO of a company
dedicated to legalizing marijuana. Whereas Clinton has been hawkish in overthrowing various dictatorships, and Trump has talked of killing family members of terrorists and convincing more countries to develop nuclear armaments, Johnson is a peace candidate in the Ron Paul
tradition. Whereas both Trump and Clinton are calling, with differing priorities, for massive and expensive new government initiatives and invasions of privacy
, Johnson stands strongly against all of their calls for bigger government.
Considering the upside-down approval ratings of both "major party" candidates, it ought not be surprising at all that voters would take a longer look at a Libertarian candidate who, for the first time ever, happens to be one with more executive governing experience than the other candidates have combined
, and more consistent success in business from his starting point to boot (while Trump was born rich and inherited a business worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and had to declare bankruptcy
for his companies four times, Johnson began with nothing at all and built up a business worth ten million dollars; Hillary Clinton, notably, has become quite wealthy as well -- no one is quite sure for what). And this is even before adding in Johnson's vice-presidential candidate, another
two-term former Republican governor, William Weld
This is already the farthest ahead that the Libertarian ticket has ever been in a Presidential election, and in part because of this Johnson is beginning to gain traction in the media, beginning to be talked about as more than just yet another third party candidate. If that kind of talk continues to spiral up, and if Trump and Clinton continue to repel substantial portions of the electorate, it is wholly feasible that Johnson may cross the 15% polling threshold imposed by the media masters on entry into the Presidential debates
. And once this sort of sanity is presented front and center in that sort of venue, the sky may very well be the limit!!
Literally about 24 hours after I posted this, the election statistics website 538.com
ran an article, "Pay Attention To Libertarian Gary Johnson; He’s Pulling 10 Percent vs. Trump And Clinton"