Brian Doherty: Libertarian Candidates, Moderated by Penn Jillette, Debate in Las Vegas

John McAfee, Gary Johnson, Penn Jillette and Austin Petersen (Photo: Adam Kokesh)

From Brian Doherty at Reason.com, May 17th, 2016:

The Nevada Libertarian Party worked hard to put together a prominent forum for the three leading presidential hopefuls in a debate held yesterday in Las Vegas. The debate, featuring former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, movement activist and Libertarian Republic founder Austin Petersen, and antivirus software legend John McAfee, was moderated by noted stage magician and libertarian Penn Jillette, known professionally as just “Penn.” (The event, whose attendance I estimate at around 300, was also a fundraiser for Penn’s favorite charity, Opportunity Village, which provides opportunities and aid for the intellectually disabled.)

McAfee, after patiently and effectively participating through the multi-hour four-part debate, chose in his closing remarks to attack the very concept of it. “You may think you learned something by watching this debate. I assure you you have learned nothing at all.” He then attacked the polished soundbite culture and canned answers of debates and hinted at the complicated truths they obscured. (He also used language unfit for most TV twice in this closing statement.)

I disagree with McAfee that the average viewer would “learn nothing” from the debate.

It is scheduled to be aired later this week on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network—numerous times, Nevada’s L.P. Chair Brett Pojunis, who wrangled the event, tells me. That audience in particular may learn of an interesting political universe they barely knew existed. One longtime L.P. national committee member told me he hopes via The Blaze that this debate can become a moment of historical signficance for the L.P. and even emulate the political ferment caused by Rick Santelli’s famous summoning of a new “Tea Party” movement in 2009 on CNBC.

25 thoughts on “Brian Doherty: Libertarian Candidates, Moderated by Penn Jillette, Debate in Las Vegas

  1. Andy

    That is cool that Penn Jillette was the moderator, but it is a shame that more candidates were not involved in the debate.

  2. Andy

    Were other candidates not invited, or were they invited but just did not make it for some reason?

  3. itdoesntmattermuch

    I like a lot of the people involved in the debate, but it’s obvious they are trying to showcase someone “NeverTrump conservatives” could throw some votes at. I mean, “The Blaze”? C’mon. You guys know your guy isn’t appealing to that niche. Too bad.

  4. Andy

    Funny, but since the “electable pragmatist” wing took over the LP, the party has elected less people to office, and membership and fundraising have declined.

  5. Andy

    Also, none of these candidates for the LP presidential nomination stand a snowball chance in hell of winning the White House.

  6. Anonymous

    “Too bad the organizers chose to ignore the Libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party instead of getting serious.”

    Sounds like they’re already getting serious!

  7. Andy

    “Matt Cholko
    May 17, 2016 at 21:00
    Perry was there, but not allowed to debate.”

    So Darryl Perry was at the LP of Nevada Convention where this debate took place, and they would not allow him to enter this debate?!?!?!?!? Un-freaking-believable.

    This is disgusting behavior. This is like something that I’d expect from Democrats and Republicans, not from Libertarians, and not against a fellow party member like Perry.

    Why was Darryl Perry not allowed in this debate?

  8. Steve Scheetz

    McAfee, after patiently and effectively participating through the multi-hour four-part debate, chose in his closing remarks to attack the very concept of it. “You may think you learned something by watching this debate. I assure you you have learned nothing at all.” He then attacked the polished soundbite culture and canned answers of debates and hinted at the complicated truths they obscured. (He also used language unfit for most TV twice in this closing statement.)

    It is funny… One of the candidates has a particular talent in regurgitating the “polished soundbite” canned answer. If THIS is the best the party decides to put forth, it will continue to decline and will, ultimately die due to a lack of distinction between it and the other parties which, at latest, are failing in their own right… It is truly a sad commentary that the LP is walking toward making the same tragic mistakes that members have been critical of the major parties for making….

    Sincerely

    Steve Scheetz

  9. Cody Quirk

    “Also, none of these candidates for the LP presidential nomination stand a snowball chance in hell of winning the White House.”

    Welcome to the world of minor-party politics.

    At this point, the goal should be to get past the 5% mark -which is quite realistic for the LP, this election.

  10. CarolineDavidas

    It is funny… One of the candidates has a particular talent in regurgitating the “polished soundbite” canned answer. If THIS is the best the party decides to put forth, it will continue to decline and will, ultimately die due to a lack of distinction between it and the other parties which, at latest, are failing in their own right… It is truly a sad commentary that the LP is walking toward making the same tragic mistakes that members have been critical of the major parties for making….

    So you think the American people want another four years of politically correct bullshit? Uh, okay.

  11. Thomas L. Knapp

    AmMcCarrick,

    I’ve seen a FEW non-anarchist semi-libertarians get elected or appointed to public office through LP activism, but not a whole lot of them — and and anecdotally not at a greater rate than, or even the same rate as, consistent libertarians, also known as anarchists.

  12. Jay Wildwood

    “Funny, but since the “electable pragmatist” wing took over the LP,”

    Thank you for my first good laugh this morning. I needed that.

    “Also, none of these candidates for the LP presidential nomination stand a snowball chance in hell of winning the White House.”

    And how is that different from every other year? Oh yeah, it isn’t.

    “I like a lot of the people involved in the debate, but it’s obvious they are trying to showcase someone “NeverTrump conservatives” could throw some votes at. I mean, “The Blaze”? C’mon. You guys know your guy isn’t appealing to that niche. Too bad.”

    A Libertarian could take a significantly bigger slice of it this year than in the past, but only if they play their hand right, and assuming of course that you even want to (some of the Libertarians here seem far more interested in ensuring ideological purity in their own ranks and accusing anyone new who shows up of being a government agent). It’s too bad you don’t have a candidate with the issue positions, stage presence and speaking abilities of Austin Petersen and the resume of Gary Johnson. Perhaps Johnson and William Weld could trade the Presidential and VP spots between them and let Weld run for the top of the ticket?

    “So Darryl Perry was at the LP of Nevada Convention where this debate took place,”

    Check your premises. What makes you think it was at an LP of Nevada convention?

    “At this point, the goal should be to get past the 5% mark -which is quite realistic for the LP, this election.”

    Only if you are willing to make some compromises to get there, and many Libertarians would it appears be happier with 0.5% and extremist purism, while some would raise the bar on the extremism even higher, with an apparent of goal of shrinking that 0.5% to 0.05% or 0.005%.

  13. Andy

    Wherever the debate was held, Perry should have been included, and the same goes for Feldman.

  14. Greg Jones

    The debate organizers get to invite who they consider to be significant candidates. There have been various debates with various different combinations of candidates invited. There’s still time for you to host your own debate as well, if you can persuade candidates to attend and arrange other logistics.

  15. Andy

    Yes, the organizers had a choice, either rig the debate by only inviting Johnson, McAfee, and Peterson, or offer a fair contest by inviting all of the candidates.

  16. Jay Wildwood

    “Yes, the organizers had a choice, either rig the debate by only inviting Johnson, McAfee, and Peterson, or offer a fair contest by inviting all of the candidates.”

    All 18 that are listed at LP.org? The dozens at the FEC website? All the ones you like?

    In all seriousness, if a private corporation or non-profit wants to invite as many or as few people, and which ones…it is their business and no one else’s. It is your decision as to whether or how you would advertise on, boycott, watch, attend, comment about, etc., any such event based on their choices, but I wouldn’t call it “rigging” if they choose to invite the candidates who they and many others think may have a real chance at the nomination.

  17. Andy

    Sure, if they want to help rig the nomination process by not allowing hard working Libertarian candidates like Darryl Perry and Marc Feldman to participate in the debate, they can do it, but it does not mean that it was an ethical or just decision.

  18. Zach Foster

    Zach Foster from LP Nevada here. Guess what folks, Darryl Perry and Kevin McCormick were there. They didn’t make the criteria for the televised debate. Sorry. However, they were officially recognized by name by Penn ONSCREEN, as per the script written by *us*. Furthermore, LP Nevada invited the media to interview Perry and McCormick. They were BOTH interviewed by Fox 5, CBS 8, Noize TV, and by freaking Al Jazeera English. So yeah, they didn’t make it into the debate, that’s true. But the Libertarian Wing of the Libertarian Party can thank us bullies in Nevada for getting your guy on Al Jazeera, if you’re not too busy still acting like victims.

  19. Thomas L. Knapp

    Zach,

    You write that Perry did not “meet the criteria for the televised debate.”

    Who set the criteria?

    If it was LP Nevada, then LP Nevada is responsible for excluding the libertarian candidate.

    If it was someone else, then of course LP Nevada is not responsible for the libertarian candidate’s exclusion.

    Either way, thank you for helping the libertarian candidate get some media coverage.

  20. Jill Pyeatt

    Good job with your write-up, Zach! By all accounts this was a highly successful event! I love that it helped a charity that has nothing to do with the LP.

  21. Andy

    My comments here were not meant to get “my guy” into the debates, but rather to promote fair debates.

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