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Dark Horses

Editor’s commentary
by Stephen Kaye
Tue May 31st, 2016

Although the Huffington Post concluded this morning that the Libertarian Party is unlikely to poll more than two percent of the vote, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson was in New York City rustling up money for his presidential campaign. Libertarian insiders are predicting that their once-obscure party will attract significant donations. The Koch brothers are known to be supporters and could swing their patronage into a major media event. 

The country may be ripe for the emergence of a third party—and maybe a fourth if Bernie Sanders starts a Socialist-Liberal Party to draw off the liberal fringe.

What is really at stake in this election is the centrist, independent voter, conservative by nature but shunning a conservative label. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal is the brand that needs a party. The Libertarians, in the form of Johnson and William Weld, may be it. They will have to prune off the Libertarian branches that have turned away most thinking voters. Their aversion to land use laws, the Environmental Protection Agency and most of the regulatory agencies will have to be tempered with a dose of practicality, although political practicality has been a plank missing from Libertarian doctrine since the movement was founded. We would guess that two former governors (Johnson, New Mexico; Weld, Massachusetts) who had to deal with their legislators know something about compromise and practicality.  

What the Libertarians offer is a new approach to old subjects. They are distinguished from the Tea Party by their level of thoughtfulness, the policy papers generated by the CATO Institute and their preference for government that works on a business model—with budgets, accounting standards, transparency and measurable results. They are distinguished from present-day Republicans by their stand on social issues such as abortion and gay rights, and by their practical view of immigration. 

Most of all, they want to balance the books. Unlike the Tea Party members who talk about it, the two governors in the race have done it.  

There is more to find out about these two darkish horses making their way to the starting gate.