Tag: President

Bill Weld Announces 2020 Presidential Run

John Keller | @keller4liberty

Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.

Continue reading “Bill Weld Announces 2020 Presidential Run”

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Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

Jack Shields | United States

Donald Trump did not win the 2016 election. This isn’t some article telling you about how Russia rigged the election. I recognize that Trump became President fair and square, winning 304 electoral votes. But Trump did not win the election so much as Hillary Clinton lost the election. Trump got lucky and won the Republican primary because he was the most unique candidate in the field of 17. While campaigning, Trump would say or do things that would completely destroy any other candidate’s chance of victory. From making fun of John McCain for being captured in Vietnam to a tape being leaked of him bragging about sexually assaulting women, it seemed impossible for him to become the 45th President of the United States. Yet Hillary Clinton was so unappealing, so corrupt, and so strangely unable to visit the mysterious lands of Wisconsin, that Trump was able to win the election in spite of himself.

With Trump’s approval ratings at historic lows, no wall built, and the Blue Wave in the 2018 midterms, you would think that the Democrats would have learned their lessons from the 2016 election and would be preparing for their easy path to the White House in 2020. But the Democrats have learned all the wrong lessons from both their defeat in 2016 and their victory in 2018. And it is because of this that they are set to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and ensure the reelection of President Trump.

Learning the Wrong Lessons

Coming away from the last two elections, the Democrats believed that they needed to become more radical. To them, Hillary didn’t lose because she was unlikable and corrupt. She lost because she was moderate. This mindset has caused the party to go sprinting as far left as they can. Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has been quoted as saying she wants to do away with private health insurance. Another candidate, Elizabeth Warren, has proposed a wealth tax. New York recently legalized late term abortions, and the Democratic Virginia Governor is supporting infanticide as a bill is proposed legalizing late term abortions in his state. And many are supporting Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez’s Green New Deal, which is Marxism with a hint of environmentalism. This is the exact opposite lesson than the one Democrats should learn. Americans may hate Trump, but this does not mean they love socialism. Most people do not like socialism. Polls show that most Americans do not support late term abortions. And the results of the 2018 Blue Wave consisted of suburban voters leaving the Republicans for moderate Democrats, not radicals. The American people want a moderate, not a Harris, not a Warren, and certainly not a Sanders. If they have the choice of Socialism or Trump, they will do just as they did with Clinton in 2016 and re-elect him. As Ben Shapiro said on his show, “All [the Democrats] had to do was not be crazy, and they can’t do it.”

This radicalism has resulted in former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz seriously considering running as an independent. An independent has a serious chance of performing at the level Ross Perot did in 1992, costing President George H. W. Bush his reelection with the unpopularity of both parties. But as seen in the 2000 election with the defeat of Vice President Gore, a third party candidate would only need about 3% of the vote to derail a candidate. If the Democrats picked a candidate perceived as a moderate such as Beto O’Rourke or Joe Biden and pitched the candidate as a return to normalcy, they’d be set to cruise to the White House. But instead, they seem hell bent on alienating moderates and giving Trump a second term.

The next mistake the Democrats have made is their embrace of intersectionality. The idea that what victim groups you fall into determines how important your opinion is has consumed the Democratic base. Just recently, a Women’s March in San Francisco was canceled due to the fact that too many of the participants are white. Your skin color or gender is now one of the most important qualities in determining if you will be the Democratic nominee. The best example of this is Beto O’Rourke. I’m not big on giving the Democrats advice; I want them to lose. But if I was a Democrat, I’d want Beto to be the candidate. He ran a close campaign as a Democrat in Texas, and now the GOP is worried about losing the state in 2020. He would easily defeat Trump with suburban voters turning on the Republican party. But they won’t do that. The Democrats are already criticizing Beto for being a white male. The base will not let a non-intersectional candidate win. While that might work in a primary, it will not win you the general. As long as the media push Kamala Harris because she is the intersectional candidate, Trump’s chances get better every day. With Democrats caring about skin color and gender so much that they will throw away their best chance at flipping Texas for a Senator who has accomplished nothing in the Senate and jump-started her career by sleeping with a 60-year-old married man simply because she is black and female, get prepared for four more years of Trump.

2020 should be a blowout for the Democrats. Come January 20, 2021, we should be talking about the brutal beating Trump suffered and how the parties have realigned in favor of the Democrats with Texas and Georgia now officially going blue. All that needs to happen is for Democrats to pick a moderate and focus on Trump’s behavior. But they just can’t help themselves. Democrats are allowing their party to be consumed by socialism and the religion of Intersectionality. It is looking more and more like when 2021 comes, we will be talking about how once more the Democrats managed to find a way to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.


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It’s Time to Replace the Electoral College

Jack Shields | United States

The 2016 election was a showdown between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton. The fact that the leader of the free world was going to be one of these individuals, both of whom were under FBI investigation, shows that our electoral system is in need of reform. Further compounding this need is the fact that Donald Trump received 2.8 million votes fewer than the loser, Hillary Clinton. The Electoral College is clearly a disaster which does not do an adequate job in achieving any of the noble goals presented by its supporters. However, the solution of going to a popular vote, by far the most popular idea, would be even worse. The Electoral College must be repealed and replaced with a ranked choice voting system, rather than relying on the popular vote.

The Failure of the Electoral College

The Electoral College was a disaster from the start. The system went unnoticed during the first two elections as George Washington was running, so it was really more of a formality than an actual election. Its flaws, however, became apparent in the election of 1796 between Federalist John Adams and Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson. At the time, the Electoral College operated under the rules prescribed in Article II Section 1 Clause 3, which gave each elector two votes for President. Whoever had the majority of votes became President, and whoever had the second most became Vice President. Adams won, becoming President, but rather than fellow Federalist, Thomas Pinckney, receiving the second most to become Vice President, Jefferson of the opposite party did. This made the Executive branch split ideologically for the only time in American history, causing tension and inefficiency. Problems continued in the election of 1800 when Democratic-Republicans Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received 73 electoral votes and the outcome of the election went to the House of Representatives. It was a brutal political battle that took 35 deadlocked votes before Alexander Hamilton convinced a minority of Federalist Representatives to back Jefferson in the 36th vote, making him the third President of the United States (a decision that would help lead to Burr killing Hamilton in a duel). Both sides understood our electoral system was a mess, so to remedy this the Twelfth Amendment was ratified in 1804, making each elector now have only one vote for President and one for Vice President.

While certainly an improvement, ratifying Twelfth Amendment was like applying a band-aid when surgery is required. Many more problems have surfaced since regarding Presidential elections and more and more band-aids have been added.

With electoral votes being what matters and not the votes of the people, the right to vote in a Presidential election was not and is still not guaranteed. The Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-sixth Amendments had to be ratified, along with the passage of countless laws, to at least clarify which characteristics can’t be used to prevent Americans from voting.

The Twenty-third Amendment was ratified in order to actually let American citizens in our country’s capital have any say in who would be running the nation. For 172 years they were spectators in their own country. Today, millions of Americans are unable to vote for who should be their Commander in Chief simply due to the fact they live in territories rather than states.

There have been five elections in which the winner of the popular vote was defeated. Additionally, small states are disproportionately represented in the Electoral College. Both of these are hailed by supporters of the Electoral College as its benefits. Small states should be represented and the tyranny of the majority should be kept at bay. The problem is that neither of those has really happened. When is the last time you saw a presidential candidate visit Wyoming or Vermont? Small states have not been represented, while swing states receive large amounts of media and campaign attention. Rather than a national election, the Presidential election is an election of Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. This is not how it should be. While power should be decentralized and overall, states should have more powers and influence in the lives of the American people, when we are holding an election for the head of the national executive the entire nation should be involved. The idea that we need a system that checks the tyranny of the majority is absolutely true. The Electoral College just isn’t the way to do it. Checks and balances, a small list of enumerated federal powers, decentralization of power, and state legislatures picking Senators were effective ways to check the majority. We have abandoned many of these ideas as government has grown bigger while our rights have shrunk, and the Electoral College hasn’t been able to stop any of this. The way to change course and keep small states powerful and the tyranny of the majority in check is to stick to checks and balances and decentralization of power, not have a terrible electoral system where someone can become President with only 27% of the popular vote. We should keep powers limited to protect the states. We should keep the amount of positions people get to elect limited to check the tyranny of the majority. But once we’ve decided to allow the people to vote, as we should do when deciding who gets to be the powerful man in the world, we should treat it as any other vote: winning 51% of the vote means winning the election.

The final supposed benefit of the Electoral College was it would protect us from the ignorance of the masses. It did this through the Electors, which are in no way constitutionally bound to vote for who the people of their state picked, although many states have laws requiring them too. But has it at all checked the people’s ignorance? The reality TV star who cheated on his wife with a porn star is President right now. President Wilson (re-segregated the federal government), President Roosevelt (put Japanese people in camps and appointed a former KKK member to the Supreme Court), and President Johnson (helped filibuster civil rights legislation) all were elected without any opposition from Electors. In fact, the only time the Electors have had any significant impact was during the election of 1872 when the Democratic nominee for President, Horace Greeley, died after the popular vote but before the electors cast their votes, causing them to split their votes between four other Democrats. Just like the tyranny of the majority, the ignorance of the majority should not be checked by the way we hold our elections. The way to check it is to limit the power of the federal government and what positions we get to vote for.

With the Electoral College being the disaster it is, many have proposed we move to a popular vote. In this system, whichever candidate receives the most votes becomes the next President. But this cure is worse than the disease. There have been eight elections in which the winner won with a plurality of votes, and this system exasperates this problem. It requires there to always only be two candidates, stifling many viewpoints and competition. The clearest example is with Bill Clinton’s election in 1992. Clinton won with an electoral landslide despite winning only 43.01% of the vote. This was because the third-party candidate, Ross Perot split President George H. W. Bush’s base. A Democrat won the election despite the fact that 56.36% of the electorate chose a conservative-leaning candidate. This is a problem that will continue to occur with a popular vote. A different solution is clearly needed.

Ranked Choice Voting

A Ranked Choice Voting System is the best way to elect the President. In this system, rather than picking just one candidate, a voter ranks his or her favorite candidate 1st, the second 2nd, and so on. If when the votes are tallied in the first round, none of the candidates received above 50% of the popular vote, then the candidate in last place is eliminated and the votes for those who voted for the now-eliminated candidate go to their highest ranked, non-eliminated choice. This process continues until one candidate has above 50% of the vote, making them the next President of the United States. President Bush would’ve been able to win in dominant fashion in the second round of the election under this system; giving the American people a President most closely aligned to the wishes of the electorate. That should be the most important goal of any electoral system, and none do it better than ranked choice voting.

While ensuring the majority of the American people actually voted for the next President is the most important goal, there are many other goals that are achieved by Ranked Choice Voting.

The candidates will be less radical. Primaries allow radical bases to select candidates not in line with mainstream America, causing most Americans to choose between the lesser of two evils as seen best by the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Under this system primaries are weakened and may even become totally irrelevant and eliminated as multiple people from each party would be able to run without destroying any chance of victory as with the elections of 1912 and 1992.

With more candidates being viable the American people will have more options and more opinions will be represented. With votes transferring, the idea of ‘wasting your vote’ will be a thing of the past. All voters will get to vote with their conscience for the candidate most representative of their values without having to pick the least worst option.

The presidential candidates will have to campaign everywhere. Democrats in Texas and Republicans in California will finally have their votes matter and the need to campaign nationwide rather than Florida-wide will be the new path to victory.

Millions of American citizens living in territories such as Puerto Rico will be able to have a say in who their President will be. All Americans will have their votes matter now that we will have a system which ensures citizens do get to vote for President and there is no Elector who can go against the will of the people.

Lastly, this system has the potential to make elections more civil and unifying, something badly needed in this country. Most Americans disapprove of negative campaign ads, but their use is increasing. It is much easier to prove someone else wrong than to prove yourself right. A ranked-choice system creates negative consequences for disparaging your opponent and incentives to be civil; voters aren’t just voting once, they are now ranking candidates, so every detail of a campaign matters. And while not everyone is going to make a candidate their first choice, the candidate will want them to rank him or her second. A voter is not likely to rank a candidate anywhere on their list if the candidate is in a calling the other candidate’s supporters deplorables who are racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, and xenophobic. Candidates will now have to play nice if they hope to stand a chance should the election go to round two.

With an electoral system that has failed us from the beginning, many Americans are turning away from the Electoral College and looking for alternatives. While this is a necessary first step we must be careful not to stumble upon the first alternative and end up with an even worse electoral system. Ranked Choice Voting is by far the most efficient and beneficial system, making it the obvious choice for the Presidential electoral system of the future.


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The Danger of Giving a Good Man Power

Jack Shields | United States

I recently re-watched Black Panther, and it’s a solid 7/10. Good but not great. Someone had to say it. The Dark Knight is the best superhero movie ever, and that is a fact not an opinion. And anyone that says Black Panther is the best MCU movie desperately needs to rewatch Ironman, The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, and Infinity War. But besides being a good movie, Black Panther shows us the dangers of allowing a good man to have power; teaching us that we need to preserve our system of checks and balances despite our desires to have items on our own personal legislative agenda passed.

The movie begins with T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) becoming the king of Wakanda after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani) in Civil War. T’Chaka was a good king, and it appears T’Challa will follow in his footsteps. In fact, Wakanda has been blessed with an abundance of good kings. Through their wisdom and intelligence, and a fair bit of Adamantium, Wakanda has built itself into secluded paradise superior to all other countries with technology that makes Tony Stark’s suits seem crude and elementary. This paradise becomes disrupted by T’Chaka’s cousin, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who successfully challenges T’Chaka for the throne, becoming the new king of Wakanda. Overnight, Wakanda goes from a peaceful, isolationist nation to power-hungry nation preparing for war. Despite many powerful people such as General Okoye (Danai Gurira) wishing to stop Killmonger from pursuing his evil goals, they were not only helpless to do so but forced to comply. It wasn’t until T’Challa miraculously reappears after escaping death and taking back the mantle of the Black Panther that peace is restored. How could a country go from paradise to nightmare, to paradise so quickly? It had a weak system of government that gave the man in charge too much power. T’Challa was an absolute monarch. A tyrant. A benevolent tyrant, but a tyrant all the same. The system was foolishly designed to give the king absolute, unchecked power and pray he uses it wisely and mercifully.  As soon as a king came into power with malicious intent, there was nothing that could be done. Because the mechanisms which were necessary to properly restrict liberty and impose tyranny were already in place.

Black Panther is, of course, a comic book movie, and it’s not likely as much time was spent making sure Wakanda’s government was designed to protect liberty as was spent making sure Black Panther looked awesome when he punched someone. But the lesson that we shouldn’t create mechanisms which can be used to impose tyranny when a good person is in power stands and is further supported upon examination of the most brutal dictatorships in human history, the most extreme example being Adolf Hitler. Germany under the Weimar Republic was not some free paradise which turned into a genocidal nightmare as soon as Hitler showed up. The mechanisms Hitler used were already there albeit used to a lesser extent. As reported by National Review’s Stephen P. Halbrook, “In 1931, Weimer authorities… authorized the registration of all firearms and the registration thereof, if required for ‘public safety.’” In 1933, Hitler and the Nazis took charge and promptly used this law to conduct mass searches and confiscations of the firearms of political dissidents and Jews. From there the Nazis were able to revoke the gun licenses for Social Democrats, ban independent gun clubs while arresting their leaders, and prohibit Jews from being given firearm permits, all without having to change a single law. Hitler was also able to gain absolute political power with the laws of his predecessors. As shown in Nazis Conspiracy and Aggression Vol. I, Ch. VII on February 28, 1933, the Nazis were able to use Article 48(2) of the German Constitution to suspend Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 which were the rights to personal freedom, inviolability of the home, protection of the secrecy of letters and other communications, freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and the right to private property respectively. From there the constitution was utilized to make the executive power infallible and uncheckable, and Germany became a one-party state. The stage was set for the horrors to come. This was all because the German people created a government with too much power and relied on the fact that their leaders would be too nice to use the power to its full potential.

In a less extreme example, this problem is relevant to how we as a nation are treating the Presidency. The President is becoming more and more powerful and is now seen by many as our great leader who will solve all our problems for us as we cede him more and more legislative power. Want tariffs, immigration reform, foreign agreements, or to attack a sovereign nation? Forget Congress, the President will do it! This has led to an epidemic of having an unstable quasi-monarch instead of a President. President Obama had “a pen and a phone” which was used to blow up Libya, create DACA, join the Paris Agreement, and create the Iran Deal. All while Republicans sat there horrified and Democrats cheered. But a legacy built by a pen and a phone can be torn down by a pen and a phone as we are seeing currently. President Trump has chosen to use his pen and phone to impose tariffs, blow up Syrian military bases, consider ending birthright citizenship, get out of the Paris Agreement, and get out of the Iran Deal. All while those once cheering Democrats sit horrified and the Republicans have their time to cheer. A system of instability has been built wherein major policies with huge implications are rewritten based on the opinions of one man every four to eight years, as they amass more and more power. A worst case scenario where the Presidency is growing more and more powerful, and instead of getting another Obama type or Trump type we get a Hitler type, who now already has the mechanisms at his disposal to successfully implement his desired tyranny.

Any system, no matter how poorly designed, can survive and quite possibly thrive under a Washington, Lincoln, or T’Challa. But when designing a system of government we ought to strive to create one that can endure a Hitler, Stalin, or Killmonger. We have a natural urge to get things which are important to us done, and if we like the guy in power we are willing to give him the power necessary to do just that. But the positive consequences of a good man wielding absolute power are clearly outweighed by the negative consequences of a bad man with such power. Those Republicans and Democrats who cheer when their guy does something they like should think more long-term and realize that eventually the other guy is going to be in power and will also be able to wield that power- and they aren’t going to like how he uses it. When wondering if a leader you like should have more power, consider their rival, and if you would not be comfortable with both of them having such power, don’t give it to them. Keep the President only having the powers absolutely necessary to run the executive and nothing more and you keep your freedom. Because you’re not giving the power to Trump, you’re giving it to the Office of the Presidency, and you may not always like the President and he may not always like you. Learn to love the gridlock. Love checks and balances. We have been blessed with the greatest system of government ever devised which has kept tyranny at bay. Let’s keep it that way.


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The Libertarian Party: A History From Hospers to Johnson

John Keller | United States

The Libertarian Party

John Hospers (1918-2011) was the first Libertarian presidential candidate. He defined Liberty best in 1971, during his campaign for President in 1972, that “Liberty is the absence of coercion by other human beings.” The Libertarian Party began forming on July 17, 1971, with a meeting of David Nolan, John Hospers, Ron Paul, Tonie Nathan, Edward Crane, and others. The new political party was officially announced January 31, 1972. The first platform of the party focused on ensuring a gold-backed currency and a return to the classical liberal thoughts held by many of the Founding Fathers of America. The Libertarian Party’s goal was, and is, to shrink government and return rights and liberty to the citizens of the United States of America.

“The only proper role of government, according to libertarians, is that of the protector of the citizen against aggression by other individuals. The government, of course, should never initiate aggression; its proper role is as the embodiment of the retaliatory use of force against anyone who initiates its use.” – Dr. John Hospers

A Brief Introduction to the Philosophy

The philosophy of libertarianism is rooted in texts from the Age of Enlightenment (1685-1815), such as the theories of John Locke (1632-1704), in his The Second Treatise of Civil Government, written in 1689 as well as the philosophies and writings of Thomas Paine (1737-1809), who wrote Common Sense in 1776.

In addition, the Libertarian Party has been influenced by many modern-day philosophers as well. The most notable of these philosophers is Ludwig von Mises (1891-1973) who wrote Human Action in 1949. His philosophies dominate the Libertarian Party’s economic platform, and his work was so influential the Mises Caucus formed within the party. After his death, the Mises Institute was founded in Auburn, Alabama in 1982 with the mission, “To advance the Misesian tradition of thought through the defense of the market economy, private property, sound money, and peaceful international relations, while opposing government intervention as economically and socially destructive.”

History of the Libertarian Movement (1972-2000)

The Libertarian Party has historically been the strongest third party in the 20th century. In 1972, John Hospers received 3,674 votes. In 1996, the presidential ticket of Harry Browne and Jo Jorgensen received 485,759 votes.

As the presidential election began to get started in 1976 there were serious doubts in the minds of conservative voters on the integrity of the Republican Party following the Watergate Scandal in 1972. The Libertarian Party become a place to vent frustration with government, and with their message for smaller government and personal accountability attracted many new voters.

The 1976 presidential ticket consisted of former state representative of Vermont Roger MacBride for president and California lawyer David Bergland for vice president. His campaign focused on issues, such as ending the Federal Reserve and returning to a gold-backed currency, as well as non-interventionist foreign policy. Democratic nominee “Jimmy” Carter spoke of being an outsider “untainted” by the politics of Washington D.C. while Republican nominee Gerald Ford focused on his ability as the chief executive, relying on his incumbent status to help carry the election in his favor.

By the end of the campaign, Roger MacBride and David Bergland had won over 172,557 votes, almost 170,000 more votes than the first ticket just four years prior and having ballot access to thirty-two states.

In 1980 the Libertarian Party hoped to capitalize on the moment of the previous year and nominated Ed Clark, who had received almost 378,000 votes in his campaign for Governor of California in 1978, for the presidency. David Koch, a successful businessman and vice-president of Koch Industries. The election began heavily contested.

President Carter faced immense backlash for his foreign policy in the Middle East and many Americans had deemed it improper for an actor to be president. The Libertarian Party and the Libertarian presidential ticket was seen as a viable third option. Although Reagan won in an electoral landslide, the Libertarian ticket received almost one million (921,128) votes.

The Reagan Administration proved to be very popular, and in the 1984 election, it showed. Former vice presidential candidate, now presidential candidate, David Bergland was only able to generate a quarter million votes.

One of the most iconic, although not the most successful, presidential runs of the Libertarian Party took place in 1988. Former congressman Ron Paul of Texas received the nomination and Andre Marrou, a former member of the Alaska House of Representatives, was nominated as the vice presidential candidate. The campaign Ron Paul ran was described by one reporter as a “Kamikaze Campaign” for being so dedicated to the issues while he stood, according to the journalist, “as much chance as I” at becoming president. Ron Paul focused on non-interventionist foreign policy, ending the Federal Reserve, getting the government out of education, and focusing on returning the American dollar to the gold standard. On top of these key issues, former Congressman Ron Paul made a pillar of his campaign the War on Drugs.

Although unsuccessful, the Ron Paul for President Campaign raised the campaign standard and redefined the Libertarian Party, highlighting the power and ability of a grassroots campaign as he raised over $2 million in donations.

In 1992 Ron Paul’s former running mate, Andre Marrou, took the nomination and continued the message of Ron Paul, but faced limited success as Americans flocked to Ross Perot, an independent from Texas who attracted over 19,000,000 votes.

Following the success of Ross Perot, the Libertarian Party knew that large success against the two-party duopoly was possible. Harry Browne received the 1996 presidential nomination. As a veteran, he pressed Bob Dole for claiming “My generation won [World War Two]” and his strong ties to the past and not to the future. When election time came he had attracted nearly half a million votes – losing votes to the popular Ross Perot who gained over 8,000,000 votes for the Reform Party.

In 2000, Harry Browne again took the nomination and ran a similar campaign to the campaign run in 1996. He won nearly the same number of votes but served a larger role.

In the controversy over the election in Florida, where Ralph Nader arguably detracted enough support from Al Gore to allow George W. Bush to win the state, the story in the state of Washington is often forgotten.

Harry Brown’s campaign attracted enough votes, alongside Pat Buchanan’s campaign for president, to swing the state away from George W. Bush and in Al Gore’s favor, ensuring the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party, Al Gore, took the state, winning him an additional 11 electoral votes.

As the century turned and George W. Bush took the White House, the Libertarian Party began to go through a reformation process.

New Age Libertarianism (2004-2012)

In the twenty-first century, the Libertarian Party began to reform its priorities in its platform. The reformation became highlighted in the 2004 Libertarian National Convention as it became the most contested presidential primary in the thirty-two-year history of the Libertarian Party.

The three leading candidates were Aaron Russo, Gary Nolan, and Michael Badnarik. Aaron Russo was leading in pre-convention polls for the nomination. He was running his campaign on criticizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and ending the War on Drugs.

Gary Nolan, polling second, focused his campaign on Anti-Bush doctrine. He planned to focus campaigning on his home state Ohio with the goal of swinging the state away from Bush and winning the state for the Libertarian Party. His platform consisted of repealing the USA PATRIOT Act, ending the war in the Middle East and bringing home the troops, while rallying against the income tax.

Going into the convention Michael Badnarik was predicted the least likely of the three major candidates to win the nomination. His campaign was built on the principles of laissez-faire economics.

With Aaron Russo in the lead, it seemed clear that the Libertarian Party was beginning to switch away from the Ron Paul Era of economic focus and begin focusing on social issues, with economic policy on the back burner; however, a surprise came at the 2004 Libertarian National Convention.

On the first ballot, the vote counts for the nomination were all within twelve votes of each other; with Russo gaining 258, Badnarik 256, and Nolan 246. On the second nomination ballet, Nolan was eliminated and surprisingly endorsed Badnarik. In the final vote for the nomination, Badnarik took the nomination 417 votes to 348 for Russo, with six delegates voting “None of the Above”.

Although the focus on economics continued in this election cycle, a focus on social issues was beginning to grow within the party. Badnarik began his run immediately, trying to build off the momentum of the convention, but he struggled at first getting the Libertarian Party on board, especially those who had supported Aaron Russo who felt “cheated” at the convention.

By election day, the highest poll for the Libertarian ticket was at 5%, a poll conducted in New Mexico. On election day Badnarik, who held high hopes, pulled in about 400,000 votes, only about 0.32%. Following the results, he pursued, with support from Green Party candidate David Cobb, a recount in the state of Ohio, which President George W. Bush had won by about 100,000 votes. If the recount had been “successful” then Ohio would have swung to be a blue state, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) would have been president.

In 2008 the election became key as there was a rejection of the Bush intervention policies. Former congressman Bob Barr was nominated by the Libertarian Party to run for president. He held high hopes going into the general election as many conservatives were growing tired of the pro-war leanings of the Republican Party, and the dedicated hawk candidate John McCain (R-AZ). However, Barack Obama (D-IL) came out as a strong anti-war candidate and supported social liberty and Barr began losing support. He tried to shift focus towards an economic policy where he believed he held the edge over the other candidates, but the American people were more focused on issues regarding foreign policy, and Barr was only able to gain a half million votes come election day. As the election cycle wore down the Libertarian Party began to strategize for 2012.

Libertarianism in the Modern Age (2012-Present)

In 2012 the upcoming nomination for president at the Libertarian National Convention was projected to be a toss-up between former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Libertarian Party Vice Chair R. Lee Wrights. Going into the convention, Gary Johnson was being seen as an unlikely choice. He was a former two-term Republican governor in the state of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. He had joined the Libertarian Party December 2011, just six months before the national convention after he failed to gain any traction in the Republican New Hampshire primary. On the other hand, R. Lee Wrights had been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2000 and had served for two years, prior to the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, as Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party (2004-2006).

Just as in 2004, the convention turned out to be an upset. Gary Johnson, on his platform of fiscal responsibility and social equality, won a surprising landslide victory at the convention, receiving 419 delegates (70.4%). Jim Gray, a California judge, received the nomination for vice president. The pro-immigration and anti-intervention ticket won considerable support as anti-war Republicans who could not support Mitt Romney voted Libertarian. Gary Johnson, on election day, made Libertarian Party history by receiving 1,275,971 votes.

Gary Johnson continued to fight for the Libertarian message and in 2016 sought to be renominated for the Libertarian presidential ticket. He was renominated in a landslide, gaining more than 30% more delegates than the runner-up Austin Petersen. Bill Weld, a former Republican governor of Massachusetts, was selected as the vice presidential nominee.

The 2016 election proved to be pivotal. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld began speaking throughout America on the message of peace and prosperity, speaking to the people about pro-immigration policy, low taxes, balanced budgets, and more. In short, the campaign rested on the idea that the government should stay out of your wallet and out of your bedroom. Bill Weld ran a strong campaign under Gary Johnson, and together they received 4,489,235 votes for the message of peace and prosperity.

Leading to the 2020 Libertarian National Convention much is unknown, but it is clear that even if there is not another Bill Weld or Gary Johnson, the idea and message of Libertarianism will spread. As the message spreads and more and more people are informed of the principles of peace and prosperity, it is clear that the breakout year for the Libertarian Party is coming soon as momentum grows.


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