Before we start, credit is due where credit is due. I am due an overwhelming amount of credit for not swapping ‘misses’ for ‘Mises’ in the title and making an awful pun. You are welcome.
Anyways, we are fighting a culture war, and quite frankly, Reason keeps missing the point. Click the banner below to buy the hottest libertarian shirts, bound to brew up exciting conversations with anyone you come in contact with!
Okay, so I’ve insinuated that Reason misses again, yet I provide nothing to back my views, but fear not, Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief at Reason, will help me. Now, before I get started, I will say that I do personally like Nick, besides the way he feels it’s his duty, in every debate, to tell the audience that he is indeed both Italian and Irish. In his latest blog post on Reason, entitled Thank You, Gary Johnson, For Being the Best Thing in 2016 he attempts to salvage Johnson’s overly disappointing run. Barf. But Nick explains,
First, he was the first politician in forever who had the temerity to say what we all know to be true: That most Americans are socially liberal (or tolerant) and fiscally conservative (i.e. responsible). Libertarian purists will denounce such a formulation as lazy or incorrect or insufficiently Misesian or Hayekian or Randian, but the way that Gary put it is exactly right in political terms.
I will concede the first point that Nick points out, to a degree, but I hope he isn’t forgetting Ron Paul, or how a shift in messaging – to say, you know, being vehemently anti-war and anti-corruption – would indeed be more palatable towards the general public – you know, the same general public who selected Donald Trump almost exclusively because he was relentless on those two issues. He even indirectly acknowledges the strength of that message when he references the Gallup poll which suggests that 54% of Americans think government does too much, yet they’re not voting for the anti-government party.
Further, another Gallup poll suggests that libertarian is the single-largest ideological bloc at 27%, beating conservative, liberal, and populist at 26%, 23%, and 15% respectively. I’m not sure if Gillespie realizes it or not, but he’s actually making the case against Gary’s messaging. Why would you try to cater to the conservatives or liberals, when libertarian holds the single-largest ideological bloc. Swing and a miss!
The greatest irony hasn’t even been discussed yet: Gillespie’s smugness when confronting ‘purist’ libertarians. Gillespie attempts to denigrate ‘purists’ by saying,
[A]nd from the “thin libertarians” who said they bailed on him the minute he refused to start every answer to every question with a recitation of the non-aggression principle.
This kind of smug virtue signaling, and complete lack of self-awareness, is the kind that really rubs me, and Eric July, the wrong way. First, none of these so-called ‘purists’ wrote Gary off when he refused to ‘answer every question with the NAP’. How intolerable and annoying that would get. Rather the ‘purists’ were either Austin Petersen fans, or John Mcafee fans, both of which spoke minimally about the NAP, or libertarianism drawn out to it’s logical conclusion, which is anarcho-capitalism. Many of these ‘thin’ libertarians were not even ancaps, but just people who understood basic marketing strategies – like how product variation is a good thing, and we’re supposed to be the free market connoisseurs?
It wasn’t Gary’s many gaffes, which to Nick’s credit he did mention, or to his lack of yelling the NAP whenever posed with a question. The reason why Gary did so poorly in hindsight is his lack of passion, his lack of charisma, and his lack of entrepreneurship of forecasting what was happening in the political realm – people were dying to hear an anti-war and anti-corruption message. The people wanted an outsider, they did not want some ideologies from the left and some from the right, they were hungry for something different.
It seems Gillespie is completely ignorant that Donald Trump actually won the presidency, yet Reason is supposed to be the ‘sensible pragmatists’ who believe change will happen through the political process. Well, here’s a pro-tip for Gillespie and the rest of the staff at Reason – that is not going to happen if you continue to elect guys like Gary Johnson who has inspired nobody to dig deeper into the philosophy, which will aid in the cultural change needed before political change is possible.
It is obvious that both Petersen and Mcafee would’ve presented voters with another real outsider option. Both have their similarities to Trump, which would have paid dividends in the 2016 election. Petersen had the in-your-face debate style much like Trump, and Mcafee is a common household name already due to his antivirus software – can you imagine if Mcafee was our candidate with all these alleged ‘Russian’ hacks surfacing? Instead of scaring people away from libertarianism – like my grandma, who told me she was going to vote for Johnson but then didn’t because he was an idiot – either of these candidates would’ve invited people in.
Both would’ve been better at reaching the anti-Trump conservatives and the anti-Hillary liberals than Johnson, yet the pragmatists at Reason can’t fathom that. They are happy to say Johnson tripled his percentage from his 2012 run, yet fail to realize this is not because of Gary Johnson, but rather a bigger testament to how awful Hillary and Trump were as candidates. It’s a shame being satisfied with a candidate who almost reached 15% and got into the debates, only to crash and burn the message of liberty in the last few weeks, not dissimilar to falling off of Mount Everest.
Gary Johnson was honestly one of the worst things in 2016, and far from the best. 2016 was our year to stand out from the crowd, to make a palatable case to the general public, and to finally see libertarianism win some political battles. At first, it seemed like we were making waves, but all hope faded each time Gary Johnson opened his mouth, whether he talked with a tied tongue, or not.
Reason needs to open their eyes if they want be the pragmatic group that they claim to be. Un-Reason yourself by learning from people who understand both pragmatism and reality with Tom Woods’ Liberty