HAWAII, July 7, 2012 – Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson is not your father’s Libertarian presidential candidate. Put away the PowerPoint slides explaining the difference between big Ls and small Ls and the World’s Smallest Political Quiz and instead pass an iPad with Johnson’s YouTube channel loaded.
In Johnson’s latest ad, a rowdy electric guitar solo blasts the ears and the viewer is asked, “Want government the hell out of healthcare? Baby, I’m with you. And I’m running for president.”
While Johnson’s high profile candidate defection from Republican red to Libertarian gold drew the ire of many policy archlibertarians who insist he isn’t a Ron Paul, the presence of Johnson in the LP has boosted the party’s street cred and raised the bar for third party candidates.
Polling as high as 7 to 12% in some parts of the country, Johnson is the first “blue chip” Libertarian of the 21st century: a candidate who possesses the right combination of charismatic moxie, electoral savvy and prior elected experience to make independents and disenfranchised voters crossover to third party in 2012.
The Democrat and Republican parties have perfected campaigning to an art, blurring the lines between Hollywood and Capitol Hill with the latest generation of candidates and campaigns. Third parties have historically had trouble competing on a national stage not so much because of ideological inferiority to the major parties but because their presidential candidates are an enigma to the general population at large.
Johnson is a qualitative shift, taking massive strides which place the Libertarian Party closer towards being a mainstream ballot option. Purists may complain about Johnson, but his candidacy marks a new era of third party quality and an example for future candidates to follow.
The souring economy, the pressures of staying in business and the large number of retiring officers and enlisted returning home from wars abroad presents a significant potential supporter base for Johnson in 2012 and a candidate recruiting field for the 2014 midterm elections.
While it is clearly unlikely that the Libertarian Party will win the Presidency in November, it should actively encourage its state committees to seek out local leaders in business, retired military and even pop culture to acquire an army of blue chips candidates to challenge the status quo. Acquiring defections of incumbent Democrats and Republicans who are popular in their district but isolated by legislative leadership should also be a top priority of the national Libertarian Party.
How do you recruit a blue chips team? Simple: invest in them. Promise blue chips candidates the maximum state and national donation allowed for their contest and bundle large donors for them and you’ll have competitive races all across the nation.
Libertarians for the most part have the message to be competitive. All they need now is the candidates who can bet big and beat the two-party system at their own game. History demonstrates that times such as what America is facing now are often the catalyst for a new political order.
We are witnessing a dynamic change in the political atmosphere. The emergence of elected partisan Libertarian congressmen and even the presidency may in fact be just around the corner.
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