draft re The 2016 Election Opportunity

One of the popular topics currently in the US is the 2016 elections. Many people focus on the Presidential election, although there are thousands of other elections for federal, state, and local positions which will be coming. We’ll get to those.
For simplicity, I will focus briefly on the Presidential election first. Obviously, casting a vote for President is one of the most diluted ways of exercising power, since each vote is only one of several million. The impact of casting a single vote is typically much bigger in a jury or even in a local race (in which it is not unusual for elections to be decided by less than one hundred votes).

In contrast, the US President is not even directly elected by a popular majority vote. Points are obtained by winning individual states.

Further, consider the primaries of each party (in which several candidates seek to be the single nominee). While the Democratic Party has attracted a lot of criticism for their “super-delegate” system which further concentrates influence in an inner circle of elites (away from the individual members of the Democratic Party), the Republican Party also has rules which allow for the party to nominate a candidate who did not actually win in the primaries. Voters in party primaries USUALLY will be the ones who choose the nominee, but not always.

So, what is most unusual about this year’s US Presidential race?  Obviously, there are many “party loyalists” in the Democratic and Republican parties. However, the percentage of “party loyalists” seem to be much lower now than in recent decades.

Looking at several decades of data on the amount of people who strongly support a major party nominee, we see that Trump and Clinton are the two lowest in recent history:


On the other hand, we see that the portion of people who reported “strongly disliking” a candidate has also never before been this high:


In particular, the support for Donald Trump is BY FAR the weakest in recent history for a Republican nominee and the opposition to him is BY FAR the greatest. For Hillary Clinton, she is also polling as the least liked and most disliked Democratic nominee, but not to the extremes of Trump.

So, the candidate with the most support outside of the two big parties is a former Governor running as the nominee of the Libertarian Party. His name is Gary Johnson and his VP candidate is Bill Weld.

Note that the majority of eligible voters in the US are not registered with either the Republican or Democrat parties. Many register as “Independent” (or with another smaller party like the Green Party or Libertarian Party). Of course, many eligible voters do not even register.

Not only is Johnson attracting support from his own party and from independents, but from people within the two major parties. One group of people that is especially supportive of Johnson are active-duty members of the military. Further, military veterans also make up a large part of the support base for Johnson.


In a recent study of thousands of US military personnel, researchers reported that 39% of active-duty soldiers support Johnson, which was higher than Trump and much higher than Clinton. Why is that? One factor is Johnson’s commitment to keeping US troops out of lengthy foreign occupations.


Another group that might not be expected to be so supportive of Johnson is young people who formerly supported the very prominent Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders. As of July 14, among the “millenial” age group, Johnson is slightly more popular than Trump (at 22%) and, among independents, the spread is even closer. Johnson is in second place, only 9 percentage points behind Trump.

Note that Gallup polls have recently established that Independents have been the biggest group of voters for a very long time. In 2012, there were two polls (out of dozens) in which there were more Democrats than Independents. Other than those slight exceptions, neither major party has even come close to the number of Independents.

Further, in September of 2014, Independents almost reached a majority (47%). 26% reported being a Democrat, 25% reported being a Republican, and 2% reported some other party (such as the Libertarian Party).


So, even though there are not many registered Libertarians currently, Johnson is still emerging as a potential contender. With huge numbers of Independents eligible to vote, and with no Presidental candidate currently attracting even 1/3 of the Independent vote, libertarian-leaning independents are the core of Johnson’s supporters. Johnson’s total support among all voters was recently polled at 13%.

Of course, that is way behind either of the other two candidates. However, if Johnson’s support can reach 15% in time, then he will be included in the nationally-televised debates.

Since a very large number of people in the US are not very familiar with Johnson yet, getting in those debates could be very big for his publicity. Will he defeat both Trump and Clinton outright in the main election? For now, that seems unlikely, depending on how bad the scandals and controversies surrounding the other two candidates get.

Some of us will remember 1992 when alternative candidate Ross Perot polled as high as 39% (and eventually received 19% of the popular vote). However, there are two major differences this time.


First, Perot had a massive amount of money to spend on publicity, so people knew about him and had the opportunity to study his platform for months prior to the elections. Johnson really has little chance of getting a lot of attention from the mainstream media unless he makes it in to the TV debates.

How Groups Voted in 1992

Second, in 1992, only 27% of voters were Independent. There was not the intensity of disappointment that so many people in the US currently have with the two major parties. Again, Gallup polls not long ago suggested that the main two parties are polling even lower than Independents in 1992 (at 25% and 26%). Further, the percentage of independents has repeatedly approached 50%… and that is still without much media publicity for the existence of Gary Johnson.

So, the question is this: do people want to see a debate between just Trump and Clinton, or are they open to a third candidate being in that debate? Under current rules, it will take pollings at 15% or higher for Johnson to trigger a legal obligation by which the major TV networks will not be able to exclude him.

I totally accept that Johnson, even if in the debates, might not appeal to enough people to win the Presidency. I am not even going to take a position to say that I have studied his platform and personal record enough to ensure my vote. However, if I saw him as a serious contender, I might be much more motivated to research him (and his running mate, Gov. Weld).

So, because I am at least curious about him, I will report that I support him if polled. I like the idea of him getting at least 15% and being included in the debates.

But everything I have written so far was to give context to this point: the Libertarian Party can achieve great success this election even if Governor Johnson is not elected President. Why? Because if he gets enough national media coverage, then he can raise issues that are not being addressed by the other two candidates.

Is the national government doing their job(s) well? What are their essential duties and how well are they doing them?

What if Libertarians won 15% of the US Senate races? Consider the implications that would come from winning just 15% of one house of congress. The fiscal restraint of a just a few Libertarians could radically alter the political trends in DC.

Again, my vote for President is one of many million. However, there are only 100 US Senators and they each have a significant amount of power in their votes. Many Senate votes are decided by only a few votes. Having 15 or 20 Libertarians in the Senate would radically alter the distribution of power in Washington. If the Senate does not approve of an appointee to the US Supreme Court, then another appointment must be made of someone who is less extreme.

Further, what about state elections? What if there were 15 or 20 Libertarian Senators in several states? If that happened in even just one state, isn’t it possible that Libertarians would be able to initiate an intriguing experiment with their principles?

There have been many elected officials who are “libertarian-leaning Republicans.” Ron Paul and Rand Paul are not the only ones.

But what if there were 15 US Senators who were truly conservative in their position on the role of government? What would that do to the trends toward corporate welfare and global colonialism being created by both major parties and their lobbyist allies?

Of course, there is nothing magic about the number 15. If 80 US Senators were Democrats and 15 were Libertarian, those 15 would not have much influence. The issue is the “swing vote.”

If Libertarians were smart enough to target establishing a “swing vote,” they might be able to halt the merger that is underway between the Democrats and Republicans. The parties may pretend to be fierce opponents, but once one party has secured a 51% majority, all the following votes are rather trivial, right?

To me, the issue is not winning any particular issue or race. The issue is shifting power from the two “corporate” parties toward a plurality. End the marginalizing of the 47% of voters who are independent. Bring the focus back toward personal accountability.

Force politicians to actually address their core responsibilities. Alter the way that the media and the public relate to their public servants. Give the masses the opportunity to reject partisan divisiveness and to hire politicians based on individual merits, not just party affiliation.

As it is, much of politics is about stirring controversy and pandering. There is a pumping of confusion and hysterical animosity instead of dignity and diplomacy and respect.

Many politicians do not respect the masses. They pander to the masses, but that is just about manipulating emotions.

Even Bernie Sanders, whom many people considered a sincere and honorable person, radically reversed his positions recently. He repeatedly said very harsh things about the lack of merit in a particular candidate, then after a few weeks of silence, he mysteriously endorsed that candidate.

Many people were stunned that Ted Cruz, who had been second to Trump as a potential Presidential nominee for the Republicans, recently declined to endorse Trump. Trump is one of the most controversial candidates in US history.
Imagine that the corporate media loves for Clinton and Trump to be at the center of personal controversies and scandals. The media love to keep people stimulated and excited. They keep the focus to the specific issues that the media approves. They keep the focus away from simple issues.
Here is where I could transition in to a “statement on principles.”

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