Saturday, January 7, 2017

Turning Lemons Into Sour Grapes

Quite a tirade offered by Nick Gillespie at “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?

The Lemons

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.


  1. There's something to be said of an LP ticket that appears to be more closely aligned with establishment forces than the GOP ticket.

    The LP needs to ask itself: Would there have been a Libertarians for Trump movement if the LP was libertarian?

    Not that I think they care. 3.3% is something to be proud of in an anti-establishment cycle (after forty years in existence), after all.

  2. Should have chosen John McAfee, of the available choices. He's out there "dispeling this fiction" about Russian interference, and has real personality and charm. Like Trump he is able to generate headlines all by himself. Gary's only headline was the Aleppo thing.

  3. Reasonoid's like Gillespie are nothing but Koch funded sock puppets and leather jacket wearing, Commiefornia style metro-sexual poseurs. I remember seeing Gillespie and Matt Welch on Judge Napolitano's old Fox News show a few years back. The Judge asked them to define libertarianism for his audience and neither one of the blockheads gave a coherent answer. They mumbled and sputtered and spouted empty headed platitudes about tolerance and fiscal restraint. Nothing about the Non Aggression Principle or the inherent immorality of the modern state.

    These Kochtarians have the philosophical depth of a chamber of commerce lobbyist.

  4. Now MISES can't even be considered a libertarian? Unless you define all libertarians as anarchists (which would be ridiculous when talking about a Party) I fail to see how Mises wouldn't qualify. Unless it's his foreign policy views, which I'll admit you don't hear much about. But John Hospers had some nutty interventionist ideas in his later years but I never heard he was stripped of the title "libertarian."

    1. I didn't realize that Mises ever held the title of "libertarian"; which of course would have to have been true in order for him to be stripped of same.

      I have read different views on this, most coming down on the side of describing him as a classical liberal in the best sense of the phrase.

  5. Maybe it was the misguided notion that the State was the acceptance or "assumed" protector of human liberty or rights by many of classical liberals that clouded the natural IMO at least bridge to anarchy with a focus of natural law that Rothbard brought forth. I mean Rothbard even pick and chose different philosophical greats and pointed their weak and strong points. Thus his marriage of liberty and economics. Unfortunately the State has been such a deceiver and signs many people's pay checks, even those who are liberty-minded. Hard to have true liberty when so many are economically tied to the State directly or indirectly. And my bet their are those apologists for the State who are very well funded who purposely distort and confuse common folk's perception of liberty and economics to the State's perverted version which serves the elite's Dominion over our lives in one way or another.

  6. Nick Gillespie left out the most important and only reason that Johnson got more votes in 2016 than previously. The reason is that the media believed that Johnson would take votes away from Trump, so they started promoting him in a big way. What the media didn't realize at first is that Johnson had already swung sharply to the left since his last campaign, and when polls came out indicating that Johnson was taking votes from Hillary, the media coverage turned 180 degrees to hostile. By that time it was too late, Johnson had already picked up some votes from Hillary that the media had intended for him to take from Trump.