It’s been an unusual election year, and it’s far from over.
This weekend, the Libertarian Party is holding its presidential nominating convention in Orlando, Florida, close to Disney World — or close to a Veterans Administration hospital . . . they’re so difficult to tell apart.
Both have long lines.
For eleven previous presidential contests, the Libertarian Party’s nominees — including the 1988 run by former GOP congressman and presidential aspirant Ron Paul — have only once broken one percent of the vote, in 1980, and only once topped a million votes, in 2012. Yet, this November, after all the votes are counted, the party’s likely nominee, former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, and his likely vice-presidential running mate, former two-term Massachusetts Governor William Weld, may finally be able to exclaim: “We’re going to Disney World!”
To celebrate . . . before moving into the White House.
Crazy? Sure. But this is the year for crazy.
Polls show Gov. Johnson currently garnering 10 percent support nationally. With both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton drowning in their own negatives, there are plenty more winnable voters to the right, left and everywhere in between Crooked Hillary and the Trumpster Fire.
Okay, sure, the Libertarians have tapped two former GOP governors, but . . . win the presidency?
One needs 270 electoral votes to win a majority in the Electoral College and, therefore, to be elected president. That requires, of course, that a candidate win states, which is how one nabs those electoral votes. Libertarians have never come close to winning any state in any presidential contest. (Though, for the record, the Libertarian Party did garner a single electoral vote in its first national run back in 1972 — the first electoral vote ever cast for a woman of the female persuasion in our history. Virginia Republican elector, Roger MacBride, rejected Richard Nixon, the incumbent GOP president, and instead voted for the Libertarian ticket of John Hospers and Tonie Nathan. MacBride went on to become the 1976 Libertarian Party candidate for president.)
More recently, in 1992, Ross Perot received a whopping 19 percent of the vote nationwide, but without winning a single state, nor an electoral vote. In fact, the last non-major party presidential candidate to win a state was in 1968, nearly half a century ago, when Alabama Gov. George Wallace took five southern states largely on a campaign to end forced busing, which was imposed by court order to alleviate racial segregation in public schools.
But there is another means by which a man or woman can be elected president of these United States. If no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, that magic mark of 270, the contest moves to the U.S. House of Representatives, where each state casts a single vote — making Wyoming’s vote equal to California’s — and can cast that vote for any of the top three electoral vote recipients.
Yes, that’s right, any of the top three.
What if Johnson were to win his home state of New Mexico with its five electoral votes? It’s a big if, certainly. In 2012, he got only 3.6 percent in the Land of Enchantment.
But Johnson faced much more popular major party candidates in Romney and Obama. And having no foreseeable shot, he received no media coverage to speak of in 2012. This year, if voters are reminded that he’s a somewhat viable alternative, the state’s former governor could tap into vast Republican and Democratic disillusion with their nominees, and arguably convince a majority of independents.
By the way, the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, is now openly feuding with the popular Republican governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez. At a rally in Albuquerque last week, he called her out, saying, “She’s not doing the job.”
Still, Johnson would have to grow his vote percentage ten-fold to get to 36 percent in a three-way race. But at 36 percent, Johnson could prevail.
With a longshot Johnson/Weld victory in New Mexico, along with Mr. Trump carrying enough swing states — say, Colorado, Florida, and Ohio — to keep Mrs. Clinton from reaching 270 electoral votes, the whole shebang . . . would be thrown into the House of Representatives.
Of course, who in their right mind trusts Congress to choose responsibly?
As I submit this column, the Libertarian convention has yet to finally choose its standard-bearer. Perhaps, the fiercely independent delegates will decide to nominate software entrepreneur John McAfee or media-savvy millennial Austin Petersen, instead of a team comprised of two former Republican governors, offering more actual executive branch experience than the Republican or Democratic tickets . . . combined.
One thing is for certain, however, Americans are looking for an alternative. And the Libertarians are offering an epochal game-changer: more freedom and less Big Brother government.
Think liberty, America.
Paul Jacob, May 29, 2016
This column first graced the pages of Townhall.com.