It has been over 3 months since the Presidential election of 2016. An election that saw one of the most tumultuous events in American history with the election of Donald J. Trump to the White House. Many people cheered, many cried, and others were just plain pissed off at the process.
The Libertarian Vindicator spent considerable time and devotion over the summer and fall months to the promotion of Libertarian ideals and particularly our endorsement of Gary Johnson’s campaign in the primary and general election. We feel it has been an appropriate amount of time to provide an analysis of what happened and the good and bad that came out of the 2016 election cycle for the Libertarian movement.
While there are many within the Libertarian Party that were, or are, upset about the Gary Johnson candidacy it is undeniable that he was able to pull off one of the greatest feats that the Libertarian Party has ever seen. With well over 4 Million votes cast for Johnson, the Libertarian Party put itself into a position to become a major player on the political stage.
During the Libertarian Primary process, we received a lot of praise and criticism of our endorsement of Gary Johnson to be the nominee. While there were flaws with his candidacy we based our decision on good faith that he was a true Libertarian and would gather the necessary media attention to bring the Libertarian principles to light for a citizenry that had no idea about our party.
While there were other capable candidates that were worthy of the nomination we took the information we had from reliable campaign sources that if anybody other than Gary were the nominee then the major media outlets wouldn’t even have paid attention to the Libertarian candidate. This same line of thinking applied to Bill Weld being selected as the Vice-Presidential candidate. Reliable campaign sources were telling us that the major networks would not give air time to our party if Weld wasn’t included on the ticket.
While many could argue this point with us or others that supported Johnson it was proven that the media attention was there and that it did help spread the word that there was another choice in the election. This was one of the most pivotal elections in our time and the fact that the Libertarian Party was receiving national media attention was a big deal!
Overall, Gary Johnson did an admirable job selling the Libertarian philosophy to the American people at every turn he got. Twice CNN did town halls with him and Bill Weld and millions of people were exposed to the Libertarian thinking process and ideals that shape our great party.
Yes, there were moments that had all of us thinking “What the hell Gary!” (cough***Aleppo***cough) but beyond those instances, Johnson was able to pull out the largest victory ever seen by a Libertarian candidate. No, he didn’t achieve the 5% nationally we were all hoping for, but came pretty damn close. Yes, he did achieve the 5% in many states that have now gotten the Libertarian Party ballot access for the next couple of election cycles.
Libertarian became a household name in the 2016 election cycle. Before, many people had no clue what it was or what it meant. Today, if you walk the streets and stop random strangers and question them on Libertarianism they are more likely to have an understanding of its name and nature.
Libertarians are known for attacking their own viciously and we still see this today. It seems that we are never satisfied and that appears to be our nature. But seeing past the anger and resentment that many still have you will see success and history being made. Gary is not like the others that have come about and run in our party. He is not Bob Barr who was sucked back into the Republican Party and then supported Donald Trump this year. Gary has run twice in the Libertarian Party and has pledged that he will stay true and be a member for life. He has already said that he will not run again and will do whatever it takes to help the movement grow in the future.
Thinking about the what comes next it is important to give credit where credit is due. Despite his flaws, Gary Johnson grew the Libertarian Party for the better. Beyond vote totals, in the 2016 election, the party has seen a rise in membership at the national and state levels. The growth is paramount and a lot of the credit should be given to Gary Johnson and his campaign for President.
Now the real work starts!