Monday, November 30, 2020

How the Libertarian Party Can Gain Serious Attention and Influence

By Robert Wenzel

Well, it was another dismal performance for the Libertarian Party in this year's just passed election, especially at the presidential level.

The Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Jo Jorgenson, received approximately 1.8 million votes (roughly 1.2% of the vote).

It was a yawner. There aren't even many post-mortems in the media about the vote. No one cares.

This is a tragedy given the close elections these days between the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. 

The races are close because internal polls of the major party campaigns have gotten very accurate in determining what candidates should say to voters and thus the vote will tend to be extremely close. 

These close races are a great opportunity for the Libertarian Party because often in key swing states the margin between the loser and the victor can be less than the number that will vote Libertarian. Walter Block's Libertarian Voting Rule, that in states with close races you vote for the major party candidate that is less evil and that in races that aren't close you cast a protest vote for the Libertarian Party candidate, can be applied with a powerful result if it expanded as a Libertarian Party policy.

In 2024, whoever the Libertarian Party candidate is, the candidate should announce to the country that libertarians should only cast protest votes for the Libertarian presidential candidate in states where it is clear who the Republican or Democratic presidential winner will be.

The Libertarian nominee should also announce that in swing states, libertarians should not vote for him but for the lesser of the two evils. The Libertarian Party candidate should also invite on separate nights the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee for live television discussions with the Libertarian candidate on the topic as to which nominee will advance the most libertarian agenda.

Talk about focus on libertarian thinking!

The outcome of the Libertarian candidate announcing, after the discussions as to who he considers less evil between the two major-party nominees and who he recommends libertarians should vote for in swing states, could determine the winner! 

It would be difficult for the mainstream media to avoid coverage of libertarianism and if the questions are designed properly it would introduce to the general population what libertarianism is all about.

Given this would likely determine the outcome of the election, I would expect the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates to act like Greyhound dogs chasing a mechanical rabbit to get the libertarian vote. It would be very interesting to see how they would approach their general interventionist pledges while still attempting to gain libertarian support.

Of course, there is the possibility that the D and R candidates would not participate in such discussions and in that case the Libertarian Party candidate would examine the public proposals of both candidates and still make a declaration of advice as to who libertarians should vote for in swing states. 

In a very important way, the Libertarian Party would potentially have significant influence over who ends up in the White House and at the same time introducing to the general public libertarian ideas--which should be the most important goal. 

Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. Are you really seriously suggesting the Libertarian candidate in2024 annunciate the Walter Block (who I love) Libertarian voting principle? You're in it to win it or go home! It would be like saying only read Target Liberty & Economic Policy Journal if you're not working for the government so your ideas of Statism aren'y changed!

    1. What does "In it to win it" mean? For the last 30 years in the LP it has meant that libertarian principles have been watered down and hidden, and non-libertarian candidates have been nominated. With no wins to show for it.

      The only worthy goals of a campaign when one cannot win are education and outreach. Ron Paul brought many libertarians into the movement with his presidential campaigns. That's what LP campaigns should focus on. If it means playing up the Walter Block voting principle, then do it, hoping that one day we don't have to. Bring more attention to the difference between libertarians and others.

      But it has to be principled libertarianism, not the kind of thing the LP has done. If you bring in new people while hiding your principles, you can't expect them to stay when they learn what it's really about.

  2. I agree with suggestion because it actually gives the Libertarian Party actual publicity, even if the Libertarian candidate announces both are equally disastrous (though this option should be done infrequently). Then the Libertarian Party would be seen more like unions and other voting groups which Rs and Ds actively seek out.

    I think this should start earlier than the general election and start with the primaries which is actually more important.

    I would even suggest the Libertarian Party select the Libertarian candidate very early so this is possible and gives them far more time. Maybe even right after the previous election to maximize the time these Libertarian candidates can get their ideas out.

    1. Yes, if the LP presidential candidate were nominated before the D and R primaries he or she would be there to comment through those long months when Americans are paying attention to politics. There would be objections that the LP would not look "serious" if it did this. Bah! What has looking serious ever gotten the LP? Good idea.

  3. It doesn't matter who you vote for when the vote counters are deciding who gets the votes.

  4. Except that LP is a total joke and a freak show... by now I'm convinced they are a Deep State operation run to discredit the real libertarian movement by association.

  5. Two thoughts on this.

    First, there is no guarantee that a D or R presidential candidate, after sucking up to LP voters, would keep to his promises once in office (or be able to get these past a D+R congress), so the whole game seems ineffective in substance, unless this process magnifies the press coverage of libertarianism, in which case if the LP candidate is as pathetic as they have all been since Harry Browne, then this could be a big negative.

    Second, given what YAL has been able to achieve at the state level this time around, and the fact that state politics impacts our daily lives in a more direct manner than fedgov, it seems to me that this is where the LP ought to focus, and just forget spending time or money in national politics.

  6. My experience has been that Libertarian candidates draw votes from the left and the right of the political spectrum. So, saying "vote for the lesser of 2 evils" would likely mean a wash as about 1/3 of those votes would each go to republicans, democrats and greens. So, in practice, I think this exercise is pointless, and you might as well vote your conscience.

    1. Bob's point is that the Libertarian candidate would tell the Libertarian voters which candidate is the lesser of 2 evils in order to consolidate the Libertarian vote behind a single candidate, therefore making the Libertarian candidate the kingmaker. This could not be ignored by the legacy media. I think it's brilliant!

  7. Having been to the Libertarian National Convention in Orlando this year, I can say that there is at least as much division within the LP as there is between the voting public at a national level. A substantial portion would say without hesitation that Biden is the lesser evil whereas many would have said Trump with a smattering elsewhere. Without getting into the one true Scotsman debate, it’s not at all clear that the LP nomination for President can be a unifying person for the party.

    This year’s candidate, Jo Jorgensen, was lackluster at inspiring the LP members when she wasn’t actively turning off large subsets of us. I was present when she gave her acceptance speech at the convention in which the “we must be actively anti-racist” statement was first made (yes, before the Twitter gaffe). It was not a mistake on her part. She fully owned it.

    Unless and until the LP can return to its principles and quit courting the far left, it will be difficult for the LP candidate to be an accurate representation of such principles, much less a unifying figurehead for the party. This may yet happen. Progress has been made towards that goal, and 2022 will likely be a good bellwether of such progress. I’m currently planning on hanging around at least that far to see if any momentum can be gained.