Libertarian Party: The Only Presidential Choice for Liberty Still Standing

From Libertarian Party email blast and press releaselp_logo_bird_pms_lg

With Sen. Rand Paul’s announcement today that he is suspending his campaign, the Libertarian Party nominee will be, indisputably, the only choice for small government in the 2016 race for President of the United States.

Many “small l” libertarians hoped Rand Paul would win the GOP nomination. But the forces of Big Government that dominate the Republican Party won out, once again.

The Republican Party was Lucy snatching the football from Ron Paul in 2012 when they changed the rules in the middle of the game to prevent him from being nominated on the floor of the convention. The only time the elder Paul was on the general election ballot for President was in 1988 as the Libertarian Party nominee.

“We applaud Rand Paul for his principled stance on the Fourth Amendment and criminal justice reforms,” said Nicholas Sarwark, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. β€œWe hope he will continue to fight for these and other liberty causes in the Senate.”

“We welcome all Americans who fear for the nation’s high debt, reckless spending, and heavy-handed and dangerous Big Government policies, domestic and abroad. We invite them to join the Libertarian Party and support our 2016 candidates in giving voters a choice for much less government and more freedom,” he said.

The Libertarian Party will hold its national convention May 26-29 in Orlando, Florida where delegates will select the party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees. Candidates vying for the nomination are listed at the party’s website.

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About Caryn Ann Harlos

Caryn Ann Harlos is a paralegal residing in Castle Rock, Colorado and presently serving as the Region 1 Representative on the Libertarian National Committee and is a candidate for LNC Secretary at the 2018 Libertarian Party Convention. Articles posted should NOT be considered the opinions of the LNC nor always those of Caryn Ann Harlos personally. Caryn Ann's goal is to provide information on items of interest and (sometimes) controversy about the Libertarian Party and minor parties in general not to necessarily endorse the contents.

48 thoughts on “Libertarian Party: The Only Presidential Choice for Liberty Still Standing

  1. Thomas L. Knapp

    I’ve mostly been impressed by the frequency and quality of LPHQ communications since Sarwark became chair.

    But I do wish that he would abandon the unfortunate and counter-productive tradition of trying to appeal to the Paul cultists. The ones who are actually libertarians will find the LP with or without that kind of help. The ones who aren’t, we should be avoiding, not doing a constant strip-tease for.

  2. Andy

    Once again, for the third time in a row, a majority of Republicans have rejected a pro-liberty candidate for President.

    I know that Rand Paul did some things to tick off a lot of the libertarian base that supported his father, which is a big part of the reason that Rand has not done better in this race, and why he is dropping out now, but even so, Rand was still the most pro-liberty candidate in the major party primaries, and I think that his platform was a net positive. Rand was at least injecting some pro-liberty ideas into the major party nomination process.

    The Republicans who did not support Rand, did not support for the wrong reasons. While some libertarians did not support Rand for not being libertarian enough, the Republicans who did not support Rand did not support him because to them, he was too libertarian.

    This is further illustration of how there is such a big disconnect between libertarians and the rest of the population, and this is why I support a libertarian separatist movement, which is basically what my Libertarian Zone concept is.

    Libertarians are incompatible with non-libertarians. We will never achieve a free society so long as we are living in places where we are outnumbered by non-libertarians.

    Check out the Libertarian Zone concept here:

  3. Andy

    Thomas Knapp: “But I do wish that he would abandon the unfortunate and counter-productive tradition of trying to appeal to the Paul cultists. The ones who are actually libertarians will find the LP with or without that kind of help. The ones who aren’t, we should be avoiding, not doing a constant strip-tease for.”

    You need to advertise your product if you want people to come to it, and targeted advertising makes good sense and is why advertising companies do it.

    Now I do not think that the Libertarian Party should limit itself to advertising/reaching out to Rand Paul supporters, but it is certainly one of the demographics to which the party should out.

  4. Andy

    “did not support for the wrong reasons. ”

    Should read, “did not support him for the wrong reasons.”

  5. Andy

    ” but it is certainly one of the demographics to which the party should out.”

    Should read, “but it is certainly one of the demographics to which the party should reach out.”

  6. Caryn Ann Harlos Post author

    I do get concern for the Republicanization of the Party but I am confident we can bring these folks in and they will be attracted by actual Libertarian ideas. This is an exciting time!

  7. Andy

    “Caryn Ann Harlos Post author
    February 3, 2016 at 12:59

    I do get concern for the Republicanization of the Party but I am confident we can bring these folks in and they will be attracted by actual Libertarian ideas. This is an exciting time!”

    This has been an issue ever since the party was founded. Why? Because a) Libertarians do not do enough outreach, and b) a disproportionate amount of the outreach that does take place is geared towards Republicans/conservatives.

    There should be more outreach to the left, and especially to independents and non-voters (I have long said that independents and non-voters are the biggest potential support base for libertarians).

    I am not opposed to Libertarians reaching out to Republicans/conservatives, but if that’s all we ever do, or most of what we do, then we will never reach our full potential, and there we will end up with situations where the party starts to lean too far to the right, or will at least be perceived to be that way by some of the public.

  8. Andy

    “and there we will end up with situations ”

    Should read, “and then we end up with situations…”

  9. Andy

    I have talked to lots of Rand Paul supporters. They are definitely more pro-liberty than the typical Republican.

  10. Pingback: Gary Johnson and Darryl W. Perry respond to Ron Paul’s withdrawal from the presidential race | American Third Party Report

  11. Andy Craig

    Some quick Iowa comparisons:

    11,817 Iowans caucused for Ron Paul in 2008.
    26,036 Iowans caucused for Ron Paul in 2012.
    12,926 Iowans voted for Gary Johnson in 2012.
    20,319 Iowans voted for the Libertarian ticket for Gov/LtGov in 2014.

    8,481 Iowans caucused for Rand Paul in 2016.

    At $11,635,098, Rand Paul ends his 2016 campaign having spent the impressive figure of $1,371.90 per vote received.

  12. Robert Capozzi

    ac, seems odd to compare caucus and general election vote totals. Tell us why that’s apples to apples, if it is.

    I’d think turn out would be much higher in the generals.

  13. George Phillies

    Kudos to Andy Craig for digging up the numbers

    26,036 Iowans caucused for Ron Paul in 2012.
    12,926 Iowans voted for Gary Johnson in 2012.

    8,481 Iowans caucused for Rand Paul in 2016. about a third as many as his dad got 4 years earlier.

    If you believe that those numbers are predictive nationally, so Johnson gets about a third as many votes, then in 2016 Johnson would hypothetically get 400,000 votes nationally.

    I am not claiming that this approach is valid.

  14. Andy Craig

    @ RC. The distinction is something to consider and keep in mind, but it doesn’t make them totally incomparable. And the bottom line, it’s still how many real people you were able to organize and motivate to show up. It’s also more directly comparable, because it’s unlikely that people who voted LP recently, or for Ron in the past, lack the information or awareness or motivation to vote in a primary or caucus (and the IA GOP caucus is a lot more primary-like than the IA Dem caucus).

  15. Andy Craig

    “I am not claiming that this approach is valid.”

    I don’t think it is, because then the real comparison would be that a Paul only get ~8500 votes *nationwide* in this year’s GOP primary, vs the ~2million Ron got in 2012. It’s a safe bet that however the LP does in 2016, it won’t under-perform that radically vs. 2012. I also don’t think it’s true that LP simply picked up leftover disgruntled voters from GOP primary campaigns, rather than both are pulling from the same pool of lowecase-l voters. For example, Browne ’96 did not benefit substantially from the ~1.5million for Forbes’96 (RLC-endorsed), nor did Barr’08 benefit much from the ~1.5 million for Paul’08.

    In the case of Rand that overlap is almost certainly less than it was with Ron, but we’ll never know for sure because Rand 2016 ended before a statistically significant sample size had the chance to vote for him. But I think the LP actually benefits from there not being a “liberty Republican” drawing away support from state LPs and an LP pres. campaign well into the spring primaries.

    This is the first election since 2004, that will have no major “libertarian-ish” GOP candidate running in the spring primaries concurrent with the LP pre-nomination. If you count only the years that had a contested GOP primary, then you have to go all the way back to, I guess, 1988. Johnson 2012 was harmed more than helped by Ron formally dragging out his campaign that long, until the RNC.

    From the perspective that most “liberty Republicans” do more harm than good for the LP, this is a huge blow to our main competition for lowercase-l libertarians, and a massive demonstration that “work within the GOP” is not a viable strategic alternative.

  16. Andy

    Barr did not benefit asuch from Ron Paul because a lot of Ron Paul supporters did not tike Barr, and for good reasons.

  17. langa

    8,481 Iowans caucused for Rand Paul in 2016. about a third as many as his dad got 4 years earlier.

    The only thing this tells us is the same thing that I have been trying to tell you guys for years: Rand Paul’s apple fell very, very, very far from Ron Paul’s tree.

  18. Dave

    I think it was a combination of less interest in Rand, (though I was hearing accolades from his last debate performance, but to most people it was too little too late) and many former Paul supporters being attracted to other “outsiders” such as Sanders and Trump. I know several Ron Paul supporters who are now backing Sanders. The average voter can be contradictory in who they like.

    But yes, interesting to note that Iowa had the highest turnout this year for their caucus, and Rand still did worse than his father. I suspect he’ll try again in 2020, so it will be interesting to see how he markets himself that time.

  19. Shane

    It really is laughable when I hear some libertarian express concern about “infiltration” by Republicans . . . or anyone else.

    With membership numbers not increasing since 2007, I don’t think we should have a concern . . . the opposite actually.

    On Rand, he and his family continue to ride the revenue stream as America’s libertarian figurehead. Old Ron is pimping for Stansberry and gold companies and Rand was just trying to hold down the fort.

    There is no reason to pander to the Paul clowns. Their supporters (what’s left of them) are cultish anti-establishments. Most have split for Trump and Cruz.

    Move on and let the Paul family take their place as an asterisk in political history.

  20. Robert Capozzi

    sc, you miss the point. Anyone who doesn’t genuflect to the Absolute Truth of the NAP; who don’t wake each day praying, Lord, give me the strength to challenge the cult of the omnipotent state; who don’t imagine as tangible a world in which government is in fact not “instituted,”; all are infiltrating interlopers!

    I do sense that the True Believers are sincere that they are OK with lessarchists being in the LP, but I believe they’d prefer some sort of “associate” designation, vs. their “cadre” standing.

  21. Andy Craig

    “If you believe that those numbers are predictive nationally,”

    One additional point: Ron did much better in Iowa (21%) than he did nationwide (~11%), whereas Iowa was a below-average state for Johnson in the general.

  22. Andy

    Andrew Napolitano stated that he was not going to run for President in 2016 because did not want to interfere with Rand Paul’s campaign, whom he was backing. Now that Rand Paul is out of the race, I wonder if there is any chance that Andrew Napolitano could be recruited to run for the Libertarian Party’s nomination.

    I bet that if Andrew Napolitano jumped in the race for the LP presidential nomination, he’d win it on the first ballot.

  23. Thomas L. Knapp

    Napolitano is an interesting guy, and would probably get even more interesting if he ran for president.

    People in general, and Fox News in particular, tend to treat him as at least as much a “conservative” as a libertarian, but when you take a closer look, he’s pretty hardcore on a lot of things. I would have thought that when he came out with his arguments in support of ending marriage apartheid (and specifically rejecting the “states rights” position), the Fox bubbas would have thrown his own sexual orientation back at him as a discreditor, but if that happened I never saw it.

  24. Thomas L. Knapp


    I wouldn’t say I’m “alleging” it so much as just mentioning it.

    Two men, who remained unmarried to women, lived together. One of them was Andrew Napolitano. The other was James Sheil. When Sheil died in 2013, the person listed first among his survivors in the obituary was his “good friend” Andrew Napolitano. Napolitano dedicated his next book to Sheil with the words “my happy dreams turned dark last year when Jim Sheil, my alter ego to whose memory this book is dedicated, died suddenly on March 19th 2013, as we were working on this book. Jim and I shared much of our lives with each other. Among that which we shared was a love of the printed word. Yet our philosophies and politics were like oil and water.”

    The math just isn’t that hard.

    And that’s one of the things I admire about Napolitano. The easiest thing in the world for him when the issue of same-sex marriage came up would have been for him to argue it “as a gay man.” Which, of course, isn’t an argument. He made real arguments, without reference to his own sexual orientation. And, oddly, the Fox people didn’t take the easy way out there either and try to knock his arguments down because of his sexual orientation.

  25. Andy Craig

    That both Napolitano and Shepard Smith are gay has been an open secret at FNC for as long as they’ve worked there. Ailes doesn’t care about it, and neither ever mentions it. But I wouldn’t say either man is exactly in the closet. Smith’s dating exploits make the tabloids with some regularity, and Nap was more or less acknowledged as such when his long-time partner died in 2013.

  26. Thomas L. Knapp


    That doesn’t surprise me. But what DID pleasantly surprise me was that when the specific issue of marriage apartheid came up, neither Napolitano nor the pro-apartheid people on Fox played that card.

    If Napolitano were to seek and receive the LP’s presidential nomination, and get any traction at all, I would expect his sexual orientation to become more of a publicly discussed matter, whether he wanted it to or not. I also expect that he would handle it well. It would be refreshing for it to be well-known that a presidential candidate was gay and for it to obviously not matter, as opposed to being a cheap talking point on either side.

  27. Thomas L. Knapp

    Which base?

    Gay candidate? Sure (IIRC, Hospers, and I’ve heard some rumors that MacBride was also gay).

    Candidate that is openly gay (which might end up being the case with Napolitano if he decides to publicly acknowledge it)?

    Or candidate who becomes fairly widely known to the public to be gay (which will certainly happen if he is nominated)?

    As best I can tell, neither of those things has happened with the LP (or with either of the major parties) before.

  28. Thomas L. Knapp

    I’m not sure what you mean by “fairly widely known.” There probably have never been a thousand people in America who could have picked Hospers or MacBride out of a lineup, let alone told you their sexual orientation.

  29. paulie

    Out of the ones who knew who they were their sexual orientation was widely known. I’m not claiming that they were household names by any means.

  30. Robert Capozzi

    This is interesting. I’m hetero, but were AN to be the L nominee, and were he to “come out,” that would be a built-in interest factor. I’m not big on his literalistic constitutionalism, but it’s coherent enough and reasonably compelling at times. I’d spend the time to vote for him, based on what I know of him.

    Although, there have been reports the Clinton is closeted.

    Could be the Year of the Rainbow!

  31. Thomas L. Knapp


    In those days, Libertarian presidential candidates got, at most, pro forma media coverage. These days the LP’s candidates get at least a little beyond a perfunctory “oh, yeah, those other guys, whaddayacallem, have a candidate too, whats-his-name.”

    In those days, if a minor candidate who was barely going to get noticed at all happened to be gay but not make a lot of noise about it (as opposed to actually being in the closet), it wasn’t going to get mentioned in what little media he got. The only way it would come up is if he positioned himself as “the openly gay candidate,” which neither of them did.

    If Napolitano was the LP’s nominee, it would be mentioned, whether he himself made a big deal of it or not. Which is fine, because he strikes me as one of the few guys who could run for president, be the nominee of the third largest party, and have it not be some kind of central thing about his campaign either from his perspective or the media’s.

  32. Robert Capozzi

    Central, no. Important to the narrative, potentially.

    While there is no “gay voting bloc,” I could imagine that very weak R and D candidates PLUS a gay L might get some sympathy votes, possibly even into the millions.

    My gay-dar has often been quite poor, but this one surprises me. (Smith set off my gay-dar, so I guess it’s not awful.) AN certainly doesn’t come off swishy or overtly gay to me, at least, (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but he certainly has credibility and more than a grasp of the issues. If he’s gay as well, well, that might be a great way to distance Ls from the hater right.

    Politics is mostly about narratives, anyway, not rigorous political philosophizing.

    With GJ spinning out into Sharia-phobia Land on top of his FAIR tax fetish, AN might actually be the better choice, ATC.

  33. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Central, no. Important to the narrative, potentially.”

    That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

    I’m thinking of the MLK “judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin” kind of thing.

    I think it would be neat if the LP was the first party not just to run a candidate who is widely known to be gay, or openly gay … but to run a candidate who is widely known to be gay, or openly gay without his sexual orientation being the story 24/7.

    Because you know, at some point, the likelihood is that one of the major parties will run an openly gay candidate and that 50% of the coverage of that candidate will be about his or her sexual orientation.

    Assuming that Napolitano was an otherwise excellent candidate — and I don’t think he would be a bad candidate, at any rate — the LP could steal their thunder in advance. “Democrats run gay candidate, aren’t they just SOOOOOOO adventurous?” “Yawn … already watched that movie, and it’s not nearly as schlocky and exploitative as your version.”

  34. Robert Capozzi

    tk: steal their thunder

    me: Seems overstated. If AN ran and was openly gay, and got — say — 3-5%, that would still probably not register as thunder-stealing. If he were to get in the debates, and win 10-20% of the generals, that might.

    It’s still pretty much Tonie Nathan-esque recognition until Ls are perceived as serious players on the stage.

  35. Thomas L. Knapp


    As always, it’s odd to suddenly find you and I switching sides of an old divide.

    Ever since I’ve known you, one of your talking points vis a vis Barr and Johnson is that other than Ed Clark they’ve received insane levels of media coverage compared to past LP presidential candidates (in part due to Ron Paul’s GOP campaigns). These days, any moderately informed voter whom I approach and mention “Libertarian” too will immediately respond with a reference to Paul, Johnson, Barr, or occasionally Harry Browne.

    And yet when it comes to this, you seem to think that it’s suddenly 1972 again.

    Back then, they never HEARD about Hospers or Nathan or MacBride, and they damn sure don’t REMEMBER them. So they are surprised if I tell them that a Libertarian was the first woman and (for those who dismiss Goldwater) the first Jew to ever receive an electoral vote.

    These days, they know who the Libertarian candidate is, and maybe even a little bit about that candidate. And if the candidate is “out,” even a little, centerpiece of the campaign or not, they’ll know that too. And in the future if the Ds or Rs advertise they’re running “the first gay candidate,” they’ll know that’s a bullshit claim.

    I had an interesting discussion awhile back.

    It just so happens that the church I attend is known to most people (who know of it at all) as “the gay church” — Metropolitan Community Church, which was established in the late 1960s with a specific intention of ministering to the LGBT community.

    I don’t talk politics at church as such, but I do talk politics with my fellow congregants.

    One of them opined that it was of paramount importance to elect a Democrat this year lest the Obergefell ruling be overturned by a new, conservative Supreme Court.

    My response was “what makes you think the Democrats care about you? Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both claimed to oppose same-sex marriage until 2013. Do you know how long the Libertarian Party has supported marriage freedom?”

    And she kind of tilted her head a little, and someone else — not a Libertarian — popped up with “what, 40 years or so?”

    People know more about us than they did 44 years ago. And they’re going to remember more, too.

    I would not advocate nominating an openly, or at least well-known to be, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender presidential candidate just because that candidate was openly, or at least well-known to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Nor would I advocate making sexual orientation or gender identity a central campaign theme. But if we nominated a good candidate who was also openly, or at least well-known to be, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you’re damn right I’d make hay with that, especially after the fact when the Ds or Rs tried to claim to have been “first” to do so.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    tk, hmm, semantical difference, methinks. There would likely be what I’d call a blip if someone like AN ran, got GJ sorts of coverage and vote totals, and happened to be openly gay.

    A blip is different than stealing thunder. ATC, a positive blip is helpful to the cause of lessarchy, so I like the idea.

    African Americans have run for prez, but Obama is considered by most the first. Women have been veep candidates before, but for most Palin was the first. etc.

  37. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Women have been veep candidates before, but for most Palin was the first. etc.”

    I have trouble believing that any even moderately informed voter hasn’t heard of Geraldine Ferraro.

  38. Thomas L. Knapp

    I’m suggesting that maybe Capozzi had a minor failure of normal recollection there, that’s all.

    I suppose it’s possible that even moderately well-informed voters under, say, 40 might not recall Mondale/Ferraro ’84.

  39. NewFederalist

    “How could I forget GF? Thanks.” – Robert Capozzi

    An overindulgence of alcohol? Perhaps the abuse of some other substance? Old age? Dementia? There are several possible reasons/excuses for this embarrassing lapse! πŸ˜‰

  40. Robert Capozzi

    nf, could be. Although, actually, I was rushed to meetup with some friends, but I wanted to complete the thought. Haste really does make waste, and errors.

  41. langa

    Regardless of his sexual orientation (which, I agree with TK, should not be the main focus of a campaign), Napolitano would be a fantastic LP candidate. He combines a very solid grasp of libertarian principles with the ability (no doubt stemming from his legal background) to eloquently and persuasively articulate those principles. This is a combination that none of the current candidates can match. His (admittedly minor) celebrity status and media connections would just be icing on the cake. I would enthusiastically support him, and I expect that he would win the nomination rather easily.

    Having said all that, I highly doubt he would run. It’s an option that he has been asked about many times before, and he’s never expressed anything more than a perfunctory interest in such an idea.

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