Jonathan Adler over at Volokh posts about assessing Gary Johnson. I think it’s a damned shame this guy disappeared from politics for so long, because when the GOP field first revealed itself, he was my guy. His candidacy didn’t last long, and to be honest, I didn’t expect it to. Dropping off the political scene entirely for ten years is essentially an end to a political career. Nonetheless, Johnson was a very successful and popular Governor of New Mexico, which is a tough state to be a Republican in.
This election he’ll be running on the Libertarian ticket now, which essentially means he doesn’t stand a chance of doing anything save winning Obama another eight years. I know when I say things like that, it pisses off a lot of Libertarian folks, but that is reality. I agree he’s the best Libertarian candidate I’ve seen in my lifetime, in terms of being a mainstream politician with actual executive experience at the state level. Presumably since he’s been a successful two term Governor, he also knows how to fund raise. But there are unfortunately, not enough libertarians in this country to carry a candidate to victory in a three way race. I could get excited about Johnson if the Democrats were fielding centrist candidates, but a surging Libertarian movement through the Libertarian party is going to mean the left get several more decades to drive the country closer to a European-style social democracy, which over the not-so-long run is going to mean the country goes bankrupt, and people will be burning money for warmth long before that.
The only way Libertarians can win elections in a winner-takes-all system is to coalition within one of the major parties. If we had a parliamentary system, that would happen as part of the government. In our system, it happens in extra-governmental political parties. Ron Paul was never going to accomplish that. Gary Johnson could have ten years ago, but not in 2012. I’m still waiting for our White Buffalo; someone who can carry libertarian principles and still hold on to social conservatives in the GOP, or someone who can forge a new movement for libertarian ideas in the Democratic party. That would take courage from a species of man who is normally uncourageous. It would take leadership from a type of people who are poor leaders. It will also take a willingness of libertarian-leaning people to understand there aren’t enough of them to carry majorities without forming coalitions with other interests. Can it happen? I think it could. But not this election.