With the inglorious backing out of Bernie Sanders (so much for taking it to the convention) it would make some sense, on the surface, to try and pick up some support from the so called “Bern Victims” for the Libertarian cause. But only on the surface: actually there seems to be an enormous divide between Sanders and Johnson politically, one that cannot be bridged unless Johnson does some serious pandering. This, however, would seriously undermine the integrity of libertarian principles. And, no matter how much he panders, it will not at all be well received by the disenfranchised Sanders supporters.
We must remember that Bernie Sanders supporters felt the way they did because they find themselves, politically, on the ultra-left. This explains their disdain for Hillary; they see her as the embodiment of the corrupt right wing. Which, for those who find themselves on the right wing, can be a hard concept to swallow: Hillary Clinton a member of the right wing?
We can argue back and forth on if it really is so; but the point here is that is how she is perceived on the far left.
During the nomination process, I was convinced that Gary Johnson tended too far left, and that might turn to the detriment of the party and the platform. But to those on the far left, he is ultra-right wing, simply because he supports the free market. Truly, politics is just a matter of perspective.
For Bernie Sanders supporters, it is not enough to believe in social liberalism. No, one must oppose the free market and how it operates, because they see free markets as a conspiracy that only makes the wealthy wealthier and oppresses the poor, and all evidence to the contrary is ignored. Any candidate that supports a pure free market, or even partly so, will not make any meaningful headway on this part of the political spectrum.
Being a libertarian is more than just being for weed legalization and being for the legalization of gay marriage. No, it relies mostly as a philosophy on faith in the free market to better the condition of mankind. While I try to avoid saying, well, if you don’t believe in such-and-such, you must not be a libertarian (as some obnoxiously do) it seems to me that some sort of faith in the free market is a cornerstone of the entire philosophy.
So unless Johnson wants to repudiate the free market (which would be an entirely disgusting thing for any libertarian to do) we cannot hope for a significant wave of support from Bern victims. And perhaps that is for the best. Not that we won’t accept their votes in November, but I cannot see how they will exactly fit in with the libertarian movement as a whole.
So if Hillary won’t get their support, and Gary Johnson won’t, who will?
Well, I can imagine a lot of them will stay home. But there is another independent candidate who is very popular among this crowd, one who makes Hillary sound like a Republican: Jill Stein, green party candidate. What does her rhetoric look like? Always some variation on “dismantling” the “oligarchy” of the billionaire class, the evil of fracking, and so on. Bernie Sanders intensified.
Of course, the green party is not on the ballot in all fifty states, as the libertarian party is. Meaningful opposition to the establishment is always a hard thing to scrape together, and especially so when the opposition vote is split. Not that I would never discourage someone from voting on principle; this is nothing more than an observation. So the question remains: can the American people scrape together some form of meaningful message against the continuance of the two party system?
After all, the libertarian victory in this election will not come in the form of majorities. It will come in the form of exceeding the 2.5% threshold to fight another day, later down the road when we, as an organization, are a little more prepared.