In a hard fought second ballot, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson’s pragmatic message secured the Presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party with the support of 55 percent of the delegates.
In the second round voting, Johnson voiced total support for free trade, opposition to minimum wage, elimination of Medicaid, and abolishing the Federal Reserve. But he parted with the purists by supporting some laws against children’s drug use, replacing the IRS with a flat tax, and requiring auto drivers must pass a competency test.
Libertarian purists marched and chanted for a last-ditch “Never Johnson” joint ticket featuring youth radio sensation Austin Petersen and high-tech pioneer John McAfee.
But despite the old-guard ideologues’ rabid enthusiasm, about 65 percent of delegates and attendees to this year’s convention are recent refugees from the Democrat and Republicans parties. They actually want the Libertarian Party to be capable of winning national office and demonstrating their competence in governing.
In his acceptance speech, Gary Johnson emphasized growing acceptance by the American public that government is increasingly their enemy. He credited his 2016 polling support from 18 million registered voters is the natural progression from receiving a record 1.3 million votes as the 2012 Libertarian Presidential candidate.
Johnson’s nomination comes on the same day that a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that only 4 percent of Americans say they have a “great deal of confidence in Congress”, while 46 percent have hardly any. The Executive Branch fared just marginally better with 15 percent saying they have a lot of confidence, but 33 percent have hardly any.
The only federal institution that generated broad support in the AP-NORC poll was the military. About 56 percent stated they have a great deal of confidence in the military, while only 17 percent stating little support.
Libertarian Party members have historically been suspicious of government’s intrusions into the lives of Americans and see federal spending as usually counter-productive. The increasing public sentiment that government is the problem favors the Libertarians in 2016 as the first viable third party insurgent movement since Ross Perot’s 1992 candidacy gave Bill Clinton the Presidency with just 43 percent of the vote.