It certainly seems odd – and maybe a stretch – to say that the anti-establishment party has an establishment wing of it’s own.
But I think it is so, and it is personified by Gov. Gary Johnson and his supporters.
There is no precise way to define the term establishment; it means different things at different times to different people. One likes to attach the label “establishment” to certain elected officials and would be correct in doing so, but another could claim that every elected political official is part of the establishment simply by virtue of being an elected official.
In a political context, the term is impossible to define precisely. But there is a general underlying theme: that members of the establishment sell out the principles they believe in or on which they were elected to further political power or influence.
But we reach an odd crossroads when we start to see an establishment mindset form in the anti-establishment party. It is a reach, surely? If only.
Without any doubt, Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Establishment personified, as he is willing to compromise many key libertarian principles in order to have some sort of wider appeal.
And many libertarians are quite prepared to humor him, apparently, for a number of pathetic reasons.
The main justification is that he is the most “electable” of the libertarian candidates. Indeed there was a poll which had him in the double digits against Trump and Hillary, an impressive feat for an unknown candidate. But that is the key – he is unknown. People would choose a broomstick over Trump or Hillary, understandably so. Why on earth would we pick a pandering candidate, in this case? If people will truly vote for anything over Trump and Hillary, why not get our ideals out there, instead of changing them for popular consumption that will result either way?
Appeal is not lacking! The appeal of a third party is simply that it is a third party!
Another justification is that Johnson has political experience. Isn’t that the very thing we, as libertarians, want to avoid? Besides, his record as governor of New Mexico isn’t exceptional.
Then there is talk of moderation; I can understand why some would want some form of moderation in this race of extremes. But again, any mainstream support that the libertarian party can count on will be ‘refugees’ that can’t bear to vote for Trump or Clinton, and won’t really concern themselves much with the different shades of libertarian thought.
We must nip this ‘libertarian establishment’ before it goes any further. If you are supporting Gary Johnson because you genuinely agree with him, very well, I can’t fault you for that. But if you are supporting Gary Johnson because you see him as the more “electable” or more “moderate” candidate, then what is the point?
This is not the time to compromise principles for electability.