Is This the Libertarian Moment?

As the Libertarian Party’s convention nominates former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson for president, some are saying that the Libertarians’ time has finally come, that 2016 could be the Libertarian moment. I very much doubt it.

A few years ago, I was invited to the George W. Bush Library in Dallas for a conference on the economy. While there, I was also part of a small group that met with Governor Johnson. As a libertarian of sorts, like most American conservatives, I looked forward eagerly to what Johnson had to say. But when he was introduced to the group, the first thing (and principal thing) Johnson talked about was legalizing drugs.

No doubt there are voters whose top priority is easier access to meth or heroin, but their numbers are, I think, small. While lots of voters are attracted to the idea of libertarianism in general, there is a reason why the Libertarian Party has never drawn much support. Look for Johnson to continue that tradition.

Meanwhile, Bill Kristol, who has remained adamantly opposed to Donald Trump, tweeted yesterday that in this year’s election, there will be an independent candidate with a “real chance.”

So perhaps voters will have four choices on the ballot. I remain skeptical that a still-unidentified independent candidate can get traction between now and November, but I suppose (s)he (or Gary Johnson, few as his voters may be) might earn enough support to flip a state or two to Hillary Clinton. We will see. In any event, I don’t expect anyone to be talking about a “libertarian moment” once the ballots have been counted.