By this weekend, one of America’s political parties will actually have its nominee.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who served as a Republican, will likely be renominated by the Libertarian Party for president. A frequent guest of our show, Johnson always strikes a chord with his impressive track record as a state chief executive and bare bones ideas for reforming the federal government. He pulled one percent for the LPUSA in 2012.
But there’s never been a moment like this: two major party contenders at historic levels of disapproval, and our trust in leaders and institutions at an all-time nadir. It’s a moment ripe for someone or something that captures that disapproval and distrust, and redirects it.
But is Gary Johnson the man for that moment? Maybe. He’s already showing up as high as 11% in three-way polling with Clinton and Trump.
Could he win a state or two in the electoral college? Unlikely. Could he spoil one or the other of the major party candidates? Maybe, but in two recent polls he pulled roughly equal shares of disgruntled Dems and GOPers.
Something else to consider: the Libertarians have a lot of ideas that appeal to reform-minded folks in both parties, such as ending the “war on drugs” and passing a balanced budget amendment. But they also have long advocated ideas that don’t exactly sound like just what the doctor ordered in 2016: “welcoming all immigrants and refugees” and that government should “keep out of the question of abortion”.
If Johnson gets into the fall debates with the two-party candidates, it would be a big moment, not just for him, but for the battle of ideas and ideals—which elections should be about. Here’s hoping the guv is able to—and chooses to—stay focused and not get dragged into defending some of the crazier tenets of “pure libertarianism”