Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother Jones checks out the Libertarians

Meet the Long-Shot Candidates Who Hope to Benefit From the GOP's Trump Meltdown | Mother Jones - Tim Murphy:

May 5, 2016 - "An hour before the Libertarian Party presidential debate in New York City on Saturday, the cybersecurity guru John McAfee, one of the candidates, was smoking a cigarette outside the venue, a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village, and explaining how he could win in November.... McAfee, who is 70 but has a goatee and frosted tips that give him the profile of an over-the-hill Backstreet Boy, was shadowed by a gaggle of photographers and filmmakers as he loitered on the sidewalk....

"McAfee may draw most of the cameras, but his path to the nomination is a difficult one. There are 17 Libertarians running for president, four of whom participated in the debate at the New York Libertarian Party convention.... The front-runner for the nomination, which will be decided by delegates at the party's convention in Orlando later this month, is [Gary] Johnson, who won a record 1.3 million votes under the Libertarian Party's banner four years ago. Between presidential campaigns, Johnson was the CEO of a Nevada-based marijuana company that specializes in candy and creams....

"Johnson is anti-war, socially liberal, and fiscally conservative, but rather than laying out his positions, he'd rather talk about a website he found,, which purports to match your political views with the corresponding candidate.... — the quiz shows that a lot of people agree with him at least some of the time, including Bernie Sanders supporters. In a year in which a large portion of voters in both parties don't like their first choice, Johnson wants to be their second.... His literature asks voters simply to 'be Libertarian for one election'....

"McAfee and Johnson shared the stage with two other candidates, Darryl Perry and Austin Petersen. Perry is a Free State project activist from New Hampshire whose campaign conducts business exclusively in Bitcoin and precious metals.... He recently picked up the endorsement of the Libertarian Party Sex Caucus. His platform states that the US government 'as it exists today, should be abolished,' which would render moot any questions about his lack of experience. (His biography mentions his work at a college radio station.) At the debate, he called the federal government 'the world's largest terrorist organization,' and he identified himself, in contrast to Johnson, as a member of the 'libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party.'

"Petersen is a suit-and-tie libertarian who previously worked for FreedomWorks and Fox News host Andrew Napolitano. He raised money for Ron Paul's presidential campaign and name-drops Republican elected officials he considers allies, such as Michigan Rep. Justin Amash and Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie. Boyish and a little overeager, Petersen refers to himself as the 'freedom ninja' and contends that the party needs a fresh face who can 'bring along those Never Trump conservatives who are just dying to vote for a pro-life libertarian.' He was also the only candidate who suggested that McAfee's past might hurt the party in November, but in the same breath he called McAfee a 'badass' and said McAfee had offered to drop acid with him. (McAfee said this was a joke and that he hasn't used drugs in 35 years)....

"Petersen called Trump a gift to the Libertarians — 'we are now seeing massive immigration into our open borders of our party' — but he contended that there was something worth emulating about the celebrity billionaire, in style if not substance. 'He's got the showmanship and the qualities and performance that we're gonna need to take this message to the masses,' he said. 'Not this same sort of egghead intellectualism that we have.'

"This is, in part, the appeal of McAfee; he's a candidate for people who don't like the old way of doing things. Derrick Michael Reid, a long-shot candidate who participated in a JV debate that preceded the main event, put it to McAfee as they huddled outside the restaurant. 'If Johnson gets nominated, the country just goes through a big yawn — "oh, the goofy governor," and that's it,' he said. 'They nominate you or me, they go viral.' At the very least, it'll get them on Spike TV."

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