Tuesday, May 31, 2016
two-time New Mexico governor Gary Johnson has just been nominated as the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential candidate, to the surprise of none. (Well, to the surprise of no one paying attention to this particular corner of the political fringe. I imagine it *is* to the surprise of many asking "Wait, there's a third party?") (L/l)ibertarians of every stripe are going apeshit, while the mainstream media is -- weirdly enough -- actually paying some attention this time, if only because the Sanders/Trump campaigns betray a nationwide longing for an anti-establishment candidate, and you can't get more anti-establishment than a party that has never held that particular office.
Which is why it's weird that the party picked its most establishment nominee. I mean, perhaps not all that weird -- this is the same party that, in a burst of dadaist madness, nominated disgruntled Republican and drug warrior Bob Barr in 2008. But that's always been one of the many tug-of-wars in the movement -- that there's the half that wants to try to win with a well-groomed, soft-spoken white guy in a suit. I call this half the Republican Lites (greater taste, less killing), the ones who are desperate to appear both moderate and presidential, the ones who quiver in horror and barely-concealed rage at members that regularly pull shit like this.
It's this Urkel-like outsider craving for majority approval that leads us to nominate the Barrs and Johnsons. I mean, to be clear, I don't hate the guy. There's much about him to admire: he's a legitimate athlete and adventurer who has conquered every one of the Seven Summits, square-jawed, heroic: he's Captain Fucking America.
My skepticism is that I don't think we can ever win this battle. Voters who want establishment will vote establishment. They don't want to watch us ape Republican respectability when they can get the real thing for free. (Incidentally, *I* don't want to watch us ape Republican respectability, because I loathe both of those things.)
The one advantage that an alternate party has in a fight is that we *don't* have to obsess over every word, gesture, and costume faux pas. We don't have to watch our electability with a microscope, because, well...we don't have any. There isn't going to be a President Johnson in 2017. (Which does not render the campaign pointless! The goal is to grow the party to the point at which it does become a viable alternative, not to win every election immediately. Though, that said, I'm troubled by the notion that growing the party to that point means throwing out every principle that defines it.)
The other half of the tug-of-war is the rockstar libertarians -- the ones who say, fuck it, let's drop those truth bombs and who gives a shit if it alienates the suburban demographic? The Republican-Lites claim that embracing this is frivolously throwing away our credibility. I say that *not* embracing this is frivolously throwing away the single unique thing we have to offer the country. It's not about pretending the circus doesn't exist, it's about stepping up to be the ringmaster.
The champion of the rockstars, in my view, has been none other than charming eccentric John McAfee, the unapologetic coke 'n' whores candidate. I mean, what's not to like? He's the libertarian fantasy, a billionaire playboy tech genius -- oh. God. Oh God.
He's Tony Stark.
So why keep backing these alternate-party losers? If we accept that the goal isn't to *win* this year, then the goal is to *grow*. That requires media attention, and that's the thing that Team Iron Man is particularly good at. Especially in a campaign as carnivalesque as this one, media attention is everything. Who else do we have that's prepared to take on this shady, balding billionaire with a pathological hatred of illegal aliens -- oh. Oh, no.
Oh God no.
Hey hey! Updating this dusty blog because, once again, it's an election year, and, once again, I'm hitting the road with some political comedy. In the coming week, I'll be performing at the Atlanta Fringe Festival. If you're in the Georgia area, I hope to see you there -- if you're not, check out my political humor collection!