Quite a tirade offered by Nick Gillespie at Reason.com: “Thank You, Gary Johnson, for Being the Best Thing in 2016!”
Now, whether you agree with this sentiment or not, you would think that with such an upbeat title there would follow a very positive commentary; you know, accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. To quote Spock (maintaining the Trekkie theme and for the same reason): “No, not really. Not this time.”
Before getting to the lemons and sour grapes…why does Nick consider Johnson as the best thing in 2016? First and foremost:
…Johnson pulled almost 4.5 million votes (3.3 percent of the total), compared to 1.3 million votes (1 percent) four years ago.
More votes – despite all of the less-than-libertarian statements from Johnson and especially Weld.
Nick then offers two specific takeaways, two reasons that Johnson deserves this award:
First, he was the first politician in forever who had the temerity to say what we all know to be true: That most Americans are socially liberal (or tolerant) and fiscally conservative (i.e. responsible).
That messy slogan…. I have a suggestion for Nick and the LP: in 2020 nominate Paul Ryan (the fiscal conservative) and Bernie Sanders (the socially liberal) to the ticket. It doesn’t matter much which one you choose as Pres and which as veep. You will have a) nailed the slogan, and b) get way more votes than perhaps all libertarian candidates for president throughout history combined.
Second, and more controversially, I think, Gary Johnson incarnates what we will come to expect from politicians and presidents….As the government is inevitably scaled down due to financial constraints, we will also want to scale down the people and the personalities that operate it.
There is so much speculation and hope in this reason…how does it qualify as a reason to name Johnson as the best thing in 2016?
Somehow Nick has turned the less-than-sterling showing of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld into a reason to rant against any and all libertarians who felt that the Libertarian Party threw away a golden opportunity. He goes on about the best vote total for the LP in history (because, as I have recently noted, the LP is after votes and not message).
Why do I say “less than sterling?” having the best vote total is not so surprising when the recent election was a ringing endorsement of outsiders. This electorate was served on a silver platter for the Libertarian Party. The result? Less than sterling.
Nick has no problem listing a few of the shortcomings and baffling moments of the campaign: forcing bakers to bake cakes; “what is Aleppo?”; tongue wagging at NBC reporter Kasie Hunt; and the pièce de résistance: Bill Weld endorsing Hillary for president (an endorsement that did not bother the author, “tbh”).
Yet, somehow, it is the fault of those who identify with “Mises or Hayek or Rand” for these failings – let alone such yay-hoos actually insisting that a Libertarian Party candidate understand something about libertarianism.
As an aside, you will note the extent of the hatred for Rothbard by the mainstream libertarian organizations: in a commentary where it would be natural to rip the most consistent libertarian theorist, Nick cannot even name him. Instead, he names three non-libertarians….
The Sour Grapes
To all of it, I say, politely: Go screw yourselves, all of you.
An impossible act. Do you really think he meant the “politely” part? It doesn’t seem like it to me.
Impossible: kind of like trying to turn two mainstream politicians into libertarians; kind of like trying to convince libertarians that this is what victory looks like.
Kind of like peddling the idea that Gary Johnson was the best thing in 2016.