Guest post contributed by Scott Cosenza.
Gary Johnson wasn’t in the first presidential debate of 2016, and, as a libertarian, I’m happy about that.
It makes me happy because every day Gary Johnson is out there being listened to, he damages the chances for liberty to take hold in the minds and hearts of Americans. He is either ignorant, as I suspect, about the principles that animate support for Libertarians™ amongst those of us who are libertarians, and why those are important, or he just doesn’t care. In either case his candidacy is unacceptable.
This has nothing to do with who would be a better president among Johnson, Clinton, and Trump. I hope reasonable libertarians would agree that Johnson is the superior choice—but that’s not saying much. You could find nine people who would be a better president than Clinton or Trump just by looking at the last ten people in your recently called list.
Gary Johnson will not be the next president of the United States. I wish he were, but he will not. He will not be because our electoral system has been set up to frustrate and block any third-party candidate in myriad ways; because practically from birth the electorate has been fed the two-party mantra; and because he sucks at being a presidential candidate.
If you really think he has an odds-on shot at actually becoming the 45th president of the United States, I think you should go ahead and support him. If however, you understand that it just is not a realistic probability, then you should join me in opposing his candidacy, because it damages the libertarian brand and seriously so.
The whole point of working to get libertarians and Libertarians in debates and before any audience who will see them is to give the general public a taste of the ideas that the greatest of our libertarian thinkers have put forth, and to explain to the public how those ideas can be translated into public policy. Gary Johnson squanders that opportunity not only by perverting the message of liberty and worse, but by taking many positions antithetical to liberty. The result is that many people who listen to Johnson will get the impression that libertarians are simply nicer, or more efficient, or more tolerant versions of the Republicans and Democrats that have laid waste to our republic. Maybe those who hear that message will firmly conclude that Libertarians are better than Republicans and Democrats, but not that we are essentially different. That’s clearly the Johnson/Weld strategy—but it’s too timid especially at this moment when voters are more disgusted than ever with the two-party cartel. We need a consistent, sober, and unflinching defense of liberty that will persuade the American voter that liberty will indeed result in a better America.