With the two most disliked and distrusted politicians in American history snatching the two major party presidential nominations, lots of voters — free-market conservatives, libertarians, liberals concerned about civil liberties and war, moderates, decency advocates — are looking for an alternative.
The Libertarian Party, our age’s perennial “third party” on state ballots, has a golden opportunity.
Perhaps that’s why delegates to 2016’s Libertarian Party nominating convention chose two two-termed former Republican governors to take up the freedom banner: New Mexico’s Gary Johnson and Massachusetts’s Bill Weld.
Both are nice men. They are the most accomplished and credentialed politicians in the race — more than Hillary Clinton; far more than Donald Trump. They don’t seem radical or threatening.
But that might be a problem. They are too nice. They are not threatening enough.
I’m not suggesting they threaten anyone, but in ideological terms they often appear more as moderates than as libertarians, as Ilya Shapiro noticed last week when he asked the pointed question, “Is Johnson-Weld a Libertarian Ticket?”
The Johnson-Weld take, economist Mark Thornton noted, is more libertarianish than libertarian: the pair are “fiscally conservative and socially liberal for Republicans which is great, but they fall short of Libertarian.”
This isn’t exactly a shock. Anyone who watched the bizarre CNN town hall with Johnson and Weld will remember that odd moment when Johnson called Democrat Hillary Clinton “a wonderful public servant” and Weld dubbed her a “lifelong friend.”
No need to attack Mrs. Clinton personally, of course, but when a Libertarian cannot find one discouraging word about what a President Hillary would mean, it seems they want to appear Democratish.
And not libertarian.
Well, it’s a strategy. But it won’t appeal to #NeverHillary voters, or impress many #NeverTrumpers, either.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.