After a rough week for conservatives, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson probably looks REAL GOOD right now!
Considering both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have historically low favorability ratings as presidential candidates, there are probably many voters looking into the idea of supporting third-parties this election cycle. In that context, events like CNN’s Libertarian Town Hall suddenly make so much more sense. For many Americans, last night was the first time they met Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his running-mate Bill Weld. More importantly, it’s the first time many considered a third-party presidential candidacy since this guy.
Here are some of our takeaway’s from last night’s Libertarian Town Hall.
That Sweet, SWEET 15%
The Libertarian Party is at an interesting position in this election cycle. Traditionally a third party has little to no mobilization when it comes to the general election. But with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton being polarizing characters, the Libertarians brand of socially liberal/fiscally conservative ideology could be enticing to some.
Then again, if you were to look at the latest Real Clear Politics poll, Gary Johnson is currently hovering around 8%. While that may be commendable if you were to consider past third party nominees, it’s nowhere near enough to even be invited to presidential debates (traditionally candidates would have to break the 15% mark to get invited). Basically, Gary Johnson has some work cut out for him.
Something like the CNN Libertarian Town Hall could go a long way of, at the very least, getting their names out there. The only hope is that this doesn’t start happening leading up to November:
If that conversation starts taking place, no amount of publicity will help them.
Gun Rights as a Rorschach Test
The above video will have one of two reactions from those considering Gary Johnson this November. You either:
(a) View Johnson’s comments as irresponsible considering that gun violence is a major problem in the US.
(b) View Johnson’s comments as refreshing, considering he’s respecting the 2nd amendment and not giving a knee-jerk reaction to the problem of gun violence.
The above video might as well be a Rorschach Test for the probability of them voting Libertarian come November. For true Independents, Johnson’s stance on guns could be looked at as concerning. Considering the majority of Independent voters support background checks for all gun owners and stricter gun laws, the Libertarian’s take on the 2nd amendment – we should uphold the 2nd amendment with very little government oversight – could be a huge problem.
However, if you’re a Republican, Johnson is suddenly looking like a viable option considering the way Trump has acted this past week! While it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a Libertarian candidate would share so much overlap in policy with Republican ideology, in a year where many are so unhappy with their party’s pick, going third-party suddenly looks a lot more enticing. Johnson’s comments on gun-control could have made backing him that much easier.
We Prefer the Term “Non-Interventionists”
The biggest challenge that faces the Libertarian ticket is in terms of gaining enough voters to be looked at as a credible option for the presidency. Around 1:04 in the video above, Gary Johnson tries to claim Libertarians “aren’t isolationists, we’re non-interventionists.” While the statement is most definitely an exercise in semantics, it also highlights a critical point about the Libertarian Party is trying to convey to disenchanted voters; we’re a lot like you!
Much like what the DNC did with Hillary Clinton during the Democratic National convention – to try and rebrand her to the American people – Johnson tried a similar strategy at last night’s CNN Town Hall. There has always been this idea that the Libertarian Party was the political party of doomsday-preppers. People who look at the 2nd amendment not only as a right to bear arms, but more importantly believe it’s lawful right to protect themselves from “governmental tyranny.” Their supporters are looked at as those who value “total freedom” regardless to the sense of security gained if they were to give-up just a little bit of it.
This year however, Donald Trump in the Republican nominee. What was always looked at as a fringe political party now has the opportunity to expand their base in ways they could have only dreamed of a decade ago.
So when you see a cleaned up version of the Libertarian vision – both Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are former GOP governors, giving their ticket political street cred – referring yourselves as non-interventionists suddenly becomes much more important.
(Photo Credit: CNN’s YouTube Video)