By Steve Sadowski
Now that Donald Trump has avoided a coup of faithless electors, and has officially taken the oath of office, he is now the 45th President of the United States. It would have been so much better to have had Gary Johnson take the oath of office quietly in some back room at the capital, but alas, I am a Toby Keith fan, so I guess my extorted tax dollars paid for some good entertainment.
The question now is, “What Do Us Libertarians Do?” As a third major party, we have the ability to put our candidate on the ballot in all 50 states without having to collect millions of signatures, so as long as we choose wisely, our candidate will appear on the ballot alongside Donald Trump, whomever the Democrats select (probably Cory Booker) and whomever the Green Party nominates (probably Jill Stein) in 2020.
Who shall we choose? First, and foremost, that person must be able to withstand the inevitable “hammer.” What is “the hammer?” The hammer is a tricky “What….is…A….Leppo?” question. Progressives in the media are still operating, and will probably keep operating under the assumption that all of us Libertarians are merely republicans who like to smoke pot. To them, we are the hipster version of the G.O.P., so who better to draw votes away from the republican, Donald Trump? Our candidate will be booked solid on every left-leaning TV show from May until September, that is, until they figure out that our candidate is drawing equally, and slightly more from the Democrat candidate. Once the polling confirms this, you can expect “the hammer.” If our candidate flubs the question, expect the look on their face to be plastered on every web site for 24 hours and the echo chamber to condemn our candidate as “unqualified.” The good news is that we know this will happen, so whoever serves on our delegation, an unflappable candidate should be your primary target. No stammering ideologues, no wonks that go over the time limit, no potheads, or burnouts—just a solid and steady candidate with keen debating skills. At least this way we can avoid, “the hammer.”
However, if the hammer doesn’t get us, the sickle will (See what I did there?). “What’s ‘the sickle,’” you ask?
“The sickle” is not an old–school WWF wrestling move, “the sickle” are the polls that always start–out asking registered voters their choice for president, but change right around September. During this time, our candidate should be at around 10%, especially given the fact that Trump will definitely be the candidate and someone not as dynamic and historic as Obama will be the Democrat nominee. But right around September, pollsters stop asking registered voters, and they start to ask likely voters exclusively. Our poll numbers will tank. Since this will coincide with “the hammer,” it could spell the death knell for our candidate. However, now that we know that this too will happen, our answer to the inevitable question, “Why are your poll numbers tanking?” must be at the ready, so that we don’t give a politically obfuscating answer like, “We feel that the polls are swinging back in our favor…” or “Who believes the polls?”
As Libertarians, we should start assembling a rapid response team now, and this team should start going over scenarios, strategies, and counter–strategies. We can’t play checkers; we have to play chess. This team should prepare for the obvious dismissals such as, “If your candidacy ends up getting one of the other two candidates elected, which one would you want it to be?”
Or my favorite, “Isn’t a vote for you a wasted vote?”
If we can assume that the system is rigged against us, and that the same bias will be levied against us in 2020 that was levied against us in 2016, including a non–invite to all 3 presidential debates regardless of our poll numbers, we will be able to avoid Gary Johnson’s fate.