34 thoughts on “Post-Election Townhall with Gary Johnson

  1. Matt Cholko

    I was pretty happy with the GJ campaign. However, if he is going to talk seriously about winning the presidency in 2016 as a Libertarian, I hope he does not run. That kind of crazy talk does nothing but create burnout.

  2. George Whitfield

    I have decided to focus my donations only on Libertarian Party candidates in the future. So if he runs as a Republican I will just be watching and waiting but not donating.

  3. Austin Cassidy

    If he can find a SuperPAC backer in the next couple of years to fund a $40 million campaign — who knows what could happen in 2016.

    The parts where he talks about 95% of the campaign’s activities being a waste of time is really dead on. He did a lot of small time events and minimally impactful fundraisers. In some of the places he traveled, he got no media coverage because the local LP did zip to support the campaign.

    Flying back and forth across the country to meet with a couple of dozen supporters here and there is a waste of time and money.

    The campaign needs major cash to run significant advertising to generate real excitement, to then generate real crowds for these events.

    Talking about winning might sound crazy, but that’s what will excite regular people.

  4. Andy

    I watched the interview and I noticed a small error in something that Gary Johnson said. When he talked about Ross Perot and Ralph Nader getting more votes the first time they ran than the second time they ran, this was not an accurate statement about Ralph Nader.

    Ralph Nader’s first run for President was in 1996 and he received 685,297 votes.

    Ralph Nader’s second run for President was in 2000 and he received 2,883,105 votes.

    Ralph Nader’s third run for President was in 2004 and he received 463,655 votes.

    Ralph Nader’s fourth run for President was in 2008 and he received 738,475 votes.

    So he went up, and then down, and then up again.

  5. Andy

    “The campaign needs major cash to run significant advertising to generate real excitement, to then generate real crowds for these event.”

    I really think that the Gary Johnson campaign should have spent some money on TV ads earlier on and then used them as a tool to raise more money. They could have said something like, “Look, we put this ad on TV in __________ (insert name of market in blank) in this market. Please donate today if you’d like to see us continue running this ad on television.”

    I think this would have helped them raise more money, and I also think that it would have resulted in more votes.

  6. Chuck Moulton

    Matt Cholko wrote (@2):

    I was pretty happy with the GJ campaign. However, if he is going to talk seriously about winning the presidency in 2016 as a Libertarian, I hope he does not run. That kind of crazy talk does nothing but create burnout.

    Yep. And he apparently burnt out himself with his own crazy talk.

    Austin Cassidy wrote (@5):

    The parts where he talks about 95% of the campaign’s activities being a waste of time is really dead on. He did a lot of small time events and minimally impactful fundraisers. In some of the places he traveled, he got no media coverage because the local LP did zip to support the campaign.

    Flying back and forth across the country to meet with a couple of dozen supporters here and there is a waste of time and money.

    It’s not a waste of time at all. Johnson doesn’t get it — and Austin doesn’t either. The point of the presidential campaign is to open new minds to libertarianism and build the party. If an event in the middle of nowhere draws only 3 people, but one of those people gets excited about libertarianism and becomes a solid activist donating time and money to future campaigns and helping to build the party infrastructure, then the event was totally worth a trip across the country and the cost of a plane ticket.

    Here in Virginia we’ve brought several enthusiastic new activists into the fold due to the Johnson campaign. That’s a win for us.

    Johnson talks as if the campaign is all about him. That’s pretty sad. It highlights another big difference between Johnson and Ron Paul, as Paul frequently emphasizes that the movement is about spreading ideas and Paul himself never seems to mind the small things. (Many Ron Paul fans seem to view the movement as a cult of personality, but I don’t see that as the fault of Paul himself, who is invariably humble.)

    Here’s a Ron Paul story from the comments of a friend’s Facebook post:

    Christopher Lawless: ok here is one of my favorite RP stories…back at the revolution March a few of us went over to this office building.

    We were stopped by security. We called upstairs. ron himself came down (no one else was in his office to do so)….the guard said we had to go to the metal detector and Ron said.. oh they are with me… and they probably will refuse to go through if you ask them they would rather stay outside….

    On the way out the guard said that Congressmen NEVER come down themselves to let people in. And that the guards like Ron because he was a real person.

    I hear stories like that about Ron Paul all the time. To be fair I’ve heard similar stories about small encounters with Gary Johnson. The difference is I can’t imagine Ron Paul complaining about them.

    What it boils down to is I like Gary Johnson, but let’s not pretend he’s bigger than the Libertarian Party. If he’s going to go down the road of Bob Barr and Wayne Root and others leaving the LP for the Republican Party or demanding the red carpet and tens of millions of dollars, then (although he’ll still be a friend and I appreciate all he’s done for liberty) don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    I’m going to keep working for liberty and for Libertarian Party candidates myself. To the extent that Johnson directly and vocally discourages people from staying involved with the LP, he’s a net negative.

  7. Robert Capozzi

    CM, I dunno, I did hear RP complaining a bit, for ex., about his lack of media coverage and about the GOP’s machinations to deny him delegates. And then there’s NewsletterGate 1.0 and 2.0.

    GJ doesn’t always get things tonally perfect, either.

    Relisten to GJ’s acceptance speech at the Nat Comm, the bit about tap dancing classes in his youth. I may read TOO much into that, but he may have some hesitancy about being in the public spotlight.

    I’d still like to see GJ consider running for Congress. His home district seems in broad strokes like a good platform him doing so, and possibly even winning as a L.

    The real question in my mind is: Does he like the day-to-day of politics? Does he like to be the Pied Piper of liberty?

    It’s understandable if the best thing that can come out of his candidacy is the LP growing by 10K. While that’s all well and good, politics is a numbers game, and skiing Taos might be more satifying than that. Having Big Dreams is not a crime, but the means have to be plausible.

  8. NewFederalist

    I lived in Albuquerque for 13 years and I don’t see much likelihood that Johnson could win in that district as a Libertarian. If he chose to run in the northern district (where he now lives) it could be worse since that one is overwhelmingly Democratic. If a strong Green nominee stepped up (as has happened in the past) then perhaps. If he wants to go to Congress (either house) one would have to ask “why would he diminish his chances by running as a Libertarian”? I don’t see it happening.

  9. Robert Capozzi

    NF, thanks for the feedback. I see the district being D as an upside, actually. If handled correctly, perhaps the Rs would not bother to even field a candidate.

    I’m just thinking out loud here, but I’d want to see if the incumbent D is vulnerable. Lujan’s hardly an institution, from what I can tell. And a R has been elected to Congress from there in recent memory.

    I see Richardson repped that district, too.

  10. Robert Capozzi

    more…

    there may well be more winnable districts, perhaps in MT, maybe NH, but if GJ wants to run to win, maybe Congress is the better option.

    Getting one MC seems to me pivotal to the entire LP experiment. That’s how it starts. If an Independent can get elected to Congress, why NOT a L? Why NOT a former guv in his home state? If not now, when?

  11. NewFederalist

    You are correct that a Republican did represent that district in the not so distant past. He was a very far right fundamentalist pastor who won in a three way race against an unpopular Democrat and a very strong Green. It was a special election to fill a vacancy created by Bill Richardson joining the Clinton Administration. When the seat come up on the next cycle, he was crushed by a much more popular Democrat who won a primary rather than being appointed the nominee by local party hacks as was the case in the special election. Just for what it’s worth.

  12. Robert Capozzi

    NF, I don’t pretend to be an expert is such things, but the data you share suggests even more that that’s a district that is among the riper for a breakthrough L to win one. The LM is more likely to fund a GJ for Congress in a consequential way. If the Green runs again, for ex., the broad outlines look even riper to me.

    It would not be easy…not at all. GJ could do what he did in ’12, though, running to the left of the D on some things, to the right of the Rs on others, while being his chill, measured self all the while.

    Lujan’s a young-in, one who’s cage probably can be rattled.

    There may be a non-starter I’m not seeing, but my guess is that GJ’s chances of being elected prez in 16 might be 1:1000, but might be 1:20 to getting elected MC as a L. Further, my guess is his chances of getting elected as a R might not be much better, but my guess is he’d rather ski.

  13. wredlich

    @Chuck:
    “If an event in the middle of nowhere draws only 3 people, but one of those people gets excited about libertarianism and becomes a solid activist donating time and money to future campaigns and helping to build the party infrastructure, then the event was totally worth a trip across the country and the cost of a plane ticket.”

    Wow! I completely disagree. Your statement ignores the opportunity cost of what else could have been done with the same money and the candidate’s time.

  14. Eric Blitz

    @wredlich

    The discrepancy between your and Chuck’s views flow from different goals. Chuck’s stated goal is to grow/support the LP. Your view is consistent with the goal of winning a campaign.

    I think the goal of the LP in running a presidential candidate is to build the party and to educate the general public (especially on issues, less so on the conceptual libertarian theory as electoral campaigns are ill-suited for that). However, I think the goal of every candidate of the party should be to run the campaign to win. You will not build the party or do much to educate voters if LP campaigns set out with suboptimal, compromised goals. Setting the goal of winning a campaign is necessary to obtain results in skills-building, organization, money, activist recruitment, building durable contacts with media and relevant issue advocacy groups, etc. The Party needs to recognize that when campaigning, the people involved need to focus on what wins elections, a dynamic and process which can be instructive to the party activists.

    @Andy

    TV=money is a classic chicken or egg first issue. There was no money early on to run TV. And the idea of saying ‘we’ll run this ad if you help pay for it’ was tried, with very limited results. Convincing people to vote their values instead of who they are told has a chance to win is tough, but it is doubly hard to convince them to donate funds when they view the candidate as not having a chance, and from that absence of money comes a reinforced perception of a low chance to win.

  15. Marc Montoni

    I might take issue with the 3 people / 1 super activist numbers (I’d say it was a poorly-planned event), but overall Chuck is right.

    All LP campaigns, unless they have the financial and volunteer support to win their race, should be looked upon as a way to recruit new libertarians into membership, and get them active.

    Regarding opportunity cost, well, if there had been other events where he could have gotten more eyeballs and ears, that would have been one thing — but I suspect the alternative opportunities were incredibly slim.

    Harry Browne was widely criticized for not appearing at local events. He cited the usual poor planning at the local level aspect as his reason. This was one reason why his second campaign was so dominated by radio interviews.

    Of course, most of the people criticizing him were either 1) Libercops; or 2) people who, if asked to set up a local event and get bodies there without renting them from a morgue, would slop together an event resulting in three people attending.

  16. Marc Montoni

    @ Eric Blitz:

    However, I think the goal of every candidate of the party should be to run the campaign to win. You will not build the party or do much to educate voters if LP campaigns set out with suboptimal, compromised goals. Setting the goal of winning a campaign is necessary to obtain results in skills-building, organization, money, activist recruitment, building durable contacts with media and relevant issue advocacy groups, etc. The Party needs to recognize that when campaigning, the people involved need to focus on what wins elections, a dynamic and process which can be instructive to the party activists.

    Except even with all of your goals in mind, if we jump into a race with 1/100 of the supporters of the D’s and Rs, there is NO WAY the candidate is going to win.

    Candidates, unless they can generate the funds and volunteer support that the major parties bring to the field, should *always, always, always* have as their goal finding new libertarians, getting them to join the party, and get them active and investing in the Party.

  17. Andy

    “And the idea of saying ‘we’ll run this ad if you help pay for it’ was tried, with very limited results.”

    I’m not talking about “We’ll run this ad if you help pay for it,” I’m talking about actually running the ad somewhere, and then saying, “We got a great reaction for this TV that we ran in ____________ (insert name of place). Help us keep this ad on the air so we can keep the great reactions coming in and so we can run we can run the ad in your state.”

    If the ads were actually on the air, I think that more people would donate.

  18. Andy

    “And then there’s NewsletterGate 1.0 and 2.0.”

    You know, I’m really sick and tired of hearing about all of the irrational hysteria about the Ron Paul Newsletters.

    Investigative journalist Ben Swann debunked this story months ago. It turns out that the so called “racist newsletters” were written by a guy named James B. Powell. Yes, that’s right, the offending comments were not written by Ron Paul or by Lew Rockwell, they were written by JAMES B. POWELL.

    Watch this segment:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE9VXaRYbFI

    It was known by the people who turned this into a controversy the entire time, but they withheld this information because their intention was to smear Ron Paul, facts be dammed.

    The fact of the matter (as Ben Swann points out) is that the offending comments only appeared in a small number of the newsletters which were put out under Ron Paul’s name, a very small number when you look at the total number of newsletters put out under Ron Paul’s name, and the comments were in fact written by James B. Powell.

    Who is James B. Powell?

    Well, apparently he’s a high level director at Forbes Magazine now. Check out the link.

    http://www.revolutimes.com/2012/01/05/breaking-author-of-racist-content-in-ron-paul-newsletter-discovered-a-director-at-forbes-magazine/

  19. Jill Pyeatt

    Andy, thanks for the info at 21. I had never heard this. I’m going to keep it in case I hear someone going on about the newsletters again.

    Apparently the elder Dr. Paul isn’t planning a quiet retirement. He plans to keep writing and speaking about his pet issues. I’m pleased to know that.

  20. Robert Capozzi

    21 A, thanks for the info. It doesn’t seem definitive that Powell wrote ALL the hate, only some of it. I don’t think RP wrote any of it, actually, but my guess is Rockwell and perhaps Rothbard did write some of it. I seem to recall someone in the know in those circles “outted” Rockwell as the author, but I’d need to check who that was…IIRC, it was Rockwell’s successor.

    But, if it WAS Powell, I still remain perplexed why RP allowed the mystery to continue. It made no sense to me UNLESS he wanted to protect the true author.

    It all won’t matter in a year or so…just an obscure footnote. It remains a cautionary tale, IMO, in that Ls should steer clear of haters and crypto-racists.

  21. Andy

    Robert Capozzi said: “I don’t think RP wrote any of it, actually, but my guess is Rockwell and perhaps Rothbard did write some of it.”

    Oh geez, here we go again! The only evidence points to James B. Powell. The writing style sounds the same. I’d have to watch the Ben Swann videos about this again, but I think he said there were only 9 issues of the newsletter that contained the offending comments. 9 issues over the long period of time that Ron Paul newsletters were published is not very many.

    Isn’t it blatantly obvious that a big deal was made out of nothing? Some guy named James B. Powell mouthed off in a newsletter years ago. So what?

    “But, if it WAS Powell, I still remain perplexed why RP allowed the mystery to continue. It made no sense to me UNLESS he wanted to protect the true author.”

    Maybe Powell was a friend. Before anybody gets up in arms over this, hasn’t everyone had friends or family members that made some comments that you find to be embarassing at some point? We all probably have.

    Or maybe Powell was a friend of a friend. Or maybe Powell, or somebody else who Powell is friends with was in a position to seek some kind of retribution if the finger had been pointed at him.

    I don’t know. What I do know is that nobody got hurt, except perhaps a few people had their feathers ruffled.

  22. Steven Berson

    @ 21 – what the Ron Paul Newsletters with very questionable content showed to me – as well as the embezzlement by his campaign manager in the 1988 LP Presidential effort – and the very poor bang for buck of the 2008 and 2012 campaigns – is that Ron Paul was just an extremely poor and in fact lax administrator. As such he might be good for legislative office where there is little need for him to be an administrator ever – but a very poor choice for executive office – where administrative skills are a great part of doing the job well. Obviously OMMV in this perception.

  23. john c jackson

    Never heard of this James Powell thing, but the fact is Ron Paul remained loyal to the guys responsible for the Newsletter stuff and continued to allow them to make money off him for 2 more decades. As others have mentioned ( for years), I don’t think Ron Paul wrote any of that garbage, and I am happy he didn’t. However, this opens up questions about his management/leadership and judgment when it comes to associates. Some of his best friends are/were passionate advocates of state violence against certain groups of people while laughably claiming the mantle of libertarian purity and putting down others who are insufficiently anarchist based on some bizarre criteria and exceptions.

  24. Green_Liberal

    I was disappointed by Johnson’s comments on electoral reform. Does he support any kind of electoral reform, or is the goal to make the Libertarians one of the 2 major parties?

    On a related topic, Ron Paul asks us

    “Why is democracy held in such high esteem when it’s the enemy of the minority and makes all rights relative to the dictates of the majority?

    So this makes me curious as to the stance of Libertarians on democracy and democratic reform. I was pleased to see that a few Libertarians support Gravel’s National Initiative proposal. But do the majority of Libertarians support things like electoral reform, voter registration reform, transparency in elections, etc?

  25. Matt Cholko

    GL @30 asks “…do the majority of Libertarians support things like electoral reform, voter registration reform, transparency in elections, etc?”

    In very general terms, I think it is safe to say yes, we do support electoral reform, and transparency in pretty much everything, including elections. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by voter registration reform though.

  26. Green_Liberal

    MC, by electoral reform, would that include proportional representation?

    Johnson’s criticism of IRV (that it has helped Democrats in California) seems pretty short-sighted to me. But maybe taking that path is political reality for him if he’s mulling a return to the GOP.

  27. Green_Liberal

    By voter registration, I guess I’m asking whether Libertarians support universal registration or same-day registration or things of that nature.

  28. Matt Cholko

    I’m not going to speak for all Libertarians if we are talking specifics.

    As for me, I’ve given almost zero thought to voter registration issues. However, with about 30 seconds of thought right now, I’d say that registering to vote is unnecessary. If you’re 18 and you’re here, you can vote. No reason to require registration that I can see.

    I’m not familiar enough with alternative voting systems to speak about IRV in particular. But, I certainly support damn near anything over our current system. I THINK that most Libertarians feel the same way.

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