The Libertarian Party Has Nominated Johnson-Weld — What Next?
By Avens O’Brien
June 1, 2016
On Sunday, the Libertarian Party selected its ticket. Governor Gary Johnson as their presidential nominee, and Governor William Weld as their vice presidential nominee. I was there, and yes, I was on a different “team.” I watched both win on the second ballot, but not by large margins. Johnson only won 55% of the 928 votes, and Weld only 50.5%. Weld won because Johnson pretty much begged us to nominate him. This was not a mandate. This was what appeared to be a begrudging majority. I didn’t vote for either candidate and I’m not going to pretend I’m thrilled with the results.
The fact is, the Libertarian Party is experiencing some growing pains. This convention was the most attended in the party’s history. The world is actually looking at us, since the major parties have opted to choose some of the universally least likable candidates as their nominees. People are flocking in from the left and the right, and the LP is deciding what it wants to be when it grows up.
Choosing someone like John McAfee, as I preferred, would have been a statement on the sheer nonsense of the political process — how our politicians don’t represent us, how the system is rigged against the American people, and how wanting to be like the rest of the political class does dilute the principled message we believe at our core. Choosing someone like Gary Johnson says we’re trying to play the game, and we have faith that the system is eating itself up enough that we have a chance, if we just put up a moderate, non-extreme, non-offensive, safe option for Americans who cannot handle their other two choices.
Which one could work? I don’t actually know. Some of us are jaded enough to believe the system is too rigged and too corrupt to allow us near the presidency, and others think we just need to play their game. I’d say the people deluding themselves are those who think they know for certain which side is right.
However, the Johnson-Weld ticket presents an interesting opportunity. Johnson does have appeal to the left and the right. They aren’t “scary” to the mainstream world. They have executive experience, moderately libertarian views, and they’re trying to prove they can succeed by playing by the rules. Regardless of statements about being a “separate” campaign from the party, and regardless of the criticism that this ticket is just a Republican takeover, the fact is that Johnson is absolutely *more* libertarian than the other two options that will be on the ballot in November. I will vote for him because I want to see my Party succeed by those terms, if it’s possible.
Maybe it’s not possible; maybe everything is broken, but this is great year to find out. We have a perfect opportunity, and if Johnson-Weld can’t perform, maybe we’ll all learn for sure that we can’t win by playing by their rules. Maybe this is the way to convince the delusional that we did everything we could and we still lost or we barely made a dent — maybe this isn’t our game. Or maybe we win. I’m okay with being wrong if it means having Johnson in the White House over the other options on the ballot.
I once had a job that had what I considered to be a stupid process for selling their product. I asked to change the process and my boss asked me to try it their way first and see if I could find success. If my numbers still weren’t performing, he’d be open to trying a different way, but he refused to allow me to deviate from company policy until I’d tried and failed their way. So I did it. I did a month by their rules, and then tried a month by my own, and I presented the results of my A/B test. My boss allowed me to do things my way. I think of that story when I think of this election.
The delegates have spoken and we have our nominees. I’ll try playing by the rules and see where it leads us. I understand if other Libertarians can’t bring themselves to support this ticket, but I wish they’d reconsider. I know straight partisanship is not appealing within the libertarian movement, but I think of my former boss and I think: okay, let’s try your way, and when it doesn’t work and we tried our best, we can honestly say “I told you so” without having been a cause for the failure.
Bio from the Libertarian Republic:
Avens O’Brien is a second-generation libertarian residing in Los Angeles, where she works in digital media advertising, handling Operations & BizDev at Thoughtful Media Group. Prior, she worked for Peter Schiff at Euro Pacific Capital. She’s been active in anti-war protests since 2003, & volunteered on Badnarik’s LP campaign in 2004 as well as Ron Paul’s primary campaign in 2008. She was Vice Chair of the LPNH from 2006-2008. She thinks civil & economic liberty are equally essential to the human spirit. Her goal is through her experience in advertising to assist the libertarian movement in messaging & increasing awareness. She’s a Facebook agitator turned writer, dissident feminist, contributor to Thoughts on Liberty as well as TLR, & articulates life experiences & their inspired philosophical thoughts on her personal blog: Taste it Twice. You can meet her at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas every year, or at Burning Man if you’re that wild.