Why So Serious?
At the New York State Libertarian Party presidential candidate debate this weekend Gary Johnson made a slip. In recent weeks it had become increasingly obvious that among the talking points issued to Johnson campaigners were instructions to cast Johnson as the only "credible" candidate. Johnson suggested as much, and in doing so he implied, though did not state, that all of the other campaigns were silly.Like any seasoned politician, Johnson left it for others to state this outright. It is a time-honored practice in politics, defined for me as the lustful pursuit of power over others. Send out your attack dogs to say the really insulting stuff, then sit back and reap praise for running a clean campaign. Alexander Hamilton would definitely approve.So when messaging this himself, the Governor confined himself to stating that it is time to "get serious" and nominate a "credible" candidate. Those are his words. But even Governor Johnson cannot escape the icy death grip of logic, and for every obverse there is a necessary and implicit reverse. In this case, the implication is that the other campaigns are not credible or serious. So we should dismiss them.His supporters are more explicit on this point. According to Andy Craig, who works with the Johnson campaign, "the Petersen and McAfee campaigns were always a bit silly." if Mr. Craig considers the two biggest threats to his candidate's nomination to be silly, imagine what he must think of the rest of the candidates and their campaigns!Looking at the other 3 candidates that debated Johnson in New York, I fail to see any of the silliness Mr. Craig references.Instead I see Darryl Perry. I see a highly-principled young man that is a tremendous orator and communicator. His refusal to yield an inch on principle should stand as a sober reminder to all Libertarians what they are doing here in the first place. I see a gentleman that has the courage to endorse as his running mate another highly principled individual that is also a practicing Muslim. Given the unfortunate cultural climate in America that takes guts.Nothing silly to me there. So let's move on to Austin Petersen. Thomas Gustin, a Johnson supporter, recently mused that "we Libertarians have labored in obscurity for so long that the attention we're receiving of late is a little intoxicating." It is fascinating that he therefore thinks so little of an individual that is a large part of the reason why. Surely it wasn't silly when Petersen helped to broker the Stossel debate, although I agree it was kind of silly when the Johnson 2016 Facebook page claimed that Johnson "made the debates happen."Finally we have John McAfee. Surely that campaign must be silly. And I must be silly as well, having put my life on hold to support that campaign in any way that I can. Libertarians don't enjoy hearing about the threat of cyberwar as much as other topics, but there is certainly nothing silly about that. The destruction of our infrastructure threatens any hope of restoring Liberty and building a bright future. There is also nothing silly about bringing unprecedented media opportunities to the party, or in committing to run a campaign such as the world has never seen.John McAfee has the clarity of vision, as an outsider to the party, to look at what has been done and to unemotionally determine what has not worked. Those invested in the party, with their money, sweat and tears, have a hard time perceiving this reality. It is painful to accept that wasteful work has been done, but as with all things the only useful thing is to accept it and change course. None of this makes the man, his campaign, or his words in the least bit silly. Quite the opposite.But I do agree there is some silliness in this nominating cycle. And since Johnson and his supporters have been so generous in diminishing and ridiculing the efforts of others, I must be allowed to return the favor. Let's look at the Johnson campaign.Dr. Jill Stein is very well known, and respected, within the Green Party. Of this there can be little doubt, as they stand ready to run her again in a quixotic presidential run. Few people outside the party know who she is, and fewer care. She had her opportunity to gain attention for herself and her party and she failed, being instead relegated to the pile of by now perennial also-rans. Try getting anyone in the Green Party to admit this.So it is with Gary Johnson. Outside of the party very few people know who Gary Johnson is, and fewer people care. I hear "Gary who?" so often when I mention his name that I've begun to wonder if he has a Tardis in his crawlspace. Libertarians are a more prickly bunch, and many do see the reality. But many do not, and are instead victims of the echo-chamber and confirmation bias.In opening his 2012 campaign, Johnson messaged about an unprecedented opportunity, much as he is doing now. He talked about the deficiencies of the other two candidates, much as he is doing now. In fact, if you go by Johnson's descriptions at the time, it seems there was very little difference in his outlook for 2012 as for 2016.I have not been a Libertarian - I dislike politics. But like John McAfee, I have sought to live as one should, and the principles held dear by the party match my own in almost every way. So I say this as much out of love as I do in amazement. It is remarkably silly to me that there is a portion of the Libertarian membership that is seriously, soberly and unabashedly advocating a repeat of 2012, with the exact same candidate and exact same approach. More than that - they are expecting different results!Strikes me as silly.