The Libertarian Party Has a Job Opening

The "major" political parties formally vote to nominate their presidential and vice-presidential candidates separately, but it really goes like this:

The presidential nominee "chooses a running mate," and then the national convention delegates rubber-stamp that man or woman. There have been a few attempts to force a fight (my recollection is that Howard Dean supporters tried to get enough delegates lined up to force a competitive vote and make him the veep nominee whether Kerry wanted him or not in 2004), but for the most part it is a process of coronation by acclamation based on the presidential candidate's desires.

The Libertarian Party does things differently.

In any given election cycle, one or more candidates formally declare their candidacy for the vice-presidency long before we even know who the presidential nominee will be. They campaign. Maybe not as vigorously as the presidential contenders, but they do hold themselves out as candidates specifically for the vice-presidential nomination, and usually without trying to attach themselves to any particular presidential candidate.

The presidential nominee is given five minutes of speaking time to endorse a VP candidate or to share his thoughts on what he hopes the delegates will do, but it's not a coronation.

For example, in 2008, after the presidential nomination had been decided (the nominee was Bob Barr), two presidential candidates switched tracks and ran for VP. Barr endorsed one of them (Wayne Allyn Root), but it took two ballots for him to prevail over the other (Steve Kubby). Unfortunately, the previously announced VP candidates didn't do well in that contest.

This tradition of the LP's has been atrophying over the last couple of cycles.

First, as I mentioned, in 2008 a couple of presidential contenders jumped in at the last minute, pretty much undoing the work of those who had been going for the VP slot from the first. Nothing we can, or really should, do about that, I guess, but it's still a little sad.

Secondly, in 2012 two people -- Gary Johnson and Jim Gray -- ran as a kind of package deal and were nominated with neither muss nor fuss.

It would be good for the LP if we went back to REAL vice-presidential contests.

Right now, to the best of my knowledge, there's only one declared candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2016 vice- presidential nomination [thanks to Thane Eichenauer for the typo catch]. His name is Mark G. Elworth and you can read about him at Independent Political Report.

No, I'm neither endorsing Mr. Elworth nor urging you to vote against him. If you're this far into this blog post, you know how to read and should be able to make up your own mind as to whether or not he's what you're looking for in a vice-presidential nominee.

But I do think the party deserves more than one candidate to choose from.

If you've ever said to yourself "I'd make a good candidate for vice-president" -- or if you're saying that to yourself right now -- why not throw your hat in the ring?

Update: Thanks to Andy Bakker for letting me know that Kerry Douglas McKennon is also a declared candidate for the VP nomination!

Thanks For Asking! -- 02/11/16

This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry (who, by the way, has two endorsements in hand from New Hampshire state legislators -- one current, one former) for his presidential campaign). Getcha some Darryl W. Perry here:

The usual rules apply:

  • Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post.
  • I'll answer in comments, on this weekend's podcast, or both.

Denial Ain't Just a River in New Hampshire

On Monday, Politico ran a story citing "inside sources" to the effect that Hillary Clinton (and husband/adviser Bill) "are so dissatisfied with their campaign's messaging and digital operations that they are considering staffing and strategy changes after what's expected to be a loss in Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire."

Almost immediately, Clinton "responded" to the "rumors": "I'm very confident in the people that I have. I'm very committed to them; they're committed to doing the best we can."

OK, let's cut the crap. The Clinton campaign planted the Politico story, then offered the "response" so that no matter how things come out in New Hampshire tonight, their bases are covered. They've got preemptive explanations for whatever they decide to do.

How do I know this? Because I've been watching the Clintons for a quarter of a century and that's how they always play the game. They're very calculating. Except on one specific issue ...

With not all the results in but it being fairly clear that Bernie Sanders put her down hard, here comes the New York Times:

Clinton advisers gritted their teeth Tuesday night as they dissected exit polls and other data to determine if Mrs. Clinton’s political vulnerabilities stemmed from the particular demographics of New Hampshire, which is overwhelmingly white, or if they reflected deeper unease. One troubling sign: Mr. Sanders was the choice, by a lopsided margin, among voters who said it was most important to have a candidate who is "honest and trustworthy."

For all their expertise in political gamesmanship, they seem to be truly honest in their complete inability to grasp the reality of the situation:

The majority of Americans, including the majority of Democrats, neither like nor trust Hillary Clinton.

The only things that keep her competitive at all are 1) the vestiges of the Hill and Bill machine that seized control of the DNC in the 1990s and still maintains a death grip on it, and 2) the persistent (even after the disproof of 2008) perception among many Democrats that she's "inevitable," and the accompanying conclusion they might as well go with the flow.

Yes, it really is just that simple.  And it always has been. No amount of tooth-gritting or data-dissection can change that, nor are those activities a prerequisite to understanding that.

Concerning Michael Bloomberg

He should really sit down with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to form a completely new political party. The only real issue seems to be whether to call it the Narcissistic Solipsists' Party or the Solipsistic Narcissists' Party.

Sociopaths United would work too, I guess, but would not sufficiently differentiate it from the two existing major parties.

Poll Position

On pretty much a daily basis, I see Facebook posts urging me to "vote" in "polls" regarding the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination. And every week or two, I'll see emails from one or more presidential nomination campaigns touting their performance in these "polls."

They're not real "polls," people.

A brief etymological digression on the word "poll," per Oxford Dictionaries:

Middle English (in the sense 'head'): perhaps of Low German origin. The original sense was 'head,' and hence 'an individual person among a number,' from which developed the sense 'number of people ascertained by counting of heads' and then 'counting of heads or of votes' (17th cent).

The concept of "one person, one vote" is pretty explicit in that etymology and in our modern understanding of what a "poll" is about. And when it comes to what a poll is for, another important element is that the people being polled are plausibly the same people who will actually make the decision in question. That's why telephone polling for political campaigns looks for "likely [insert party here] voters," not just any old respondent.

And those are the two major problems with the Internet "polls" I'm referring to. They're trivial to stuff using e.g. web proxies and so forth, or for a campaign to flash-mob with an alert to people who like the candidate but will not be casting a real vote in the real relevant election.

They are, in other words, un-scientific and pretty much meaningless.

They're also sad, because between 2004 to 2008 the Libertarian Party actually began developing a real organic capacity for conducting and using real scientific polling.

In 2004, Libertarian presidential nominee Michael Badnarik's campaign commissioned several (IIRC, the number was five) polls from a reputable company (Rasmussen) for the general election cycle.

After 2004, Stephen Gordon (with whom I worked on Aaron Russo's pre-nomination campaign and Badnarik's general election campaign) ran a polling operation leading up to 2008 in which actual previous and likely national convention delegates were contacted -- one person, one vote, with an attempt to identify likely delegates -- and polled on their preferences.

And then that growing organic polling capacity just ... disappeared.

In the first century AD, Hero of Alexandria built a steam engine. It was apparently briefly a sensation in the Roman/Egyptian royal courts.

Then the steam engine just ... disappeared, for about 1600 years, before re-appearing as a world-changing thing.

I hope it's not that long before Libertarians return to a serious interest in polling.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 65: Anybody But Johnson, and Yes, That Means McAfee

This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this week's episode:

  • Thanks for Asking! (The British are coming and they don't give a damn about American football);
  • Libertarian Party 2016 presidential nomination analyisis -- John McAfee.

Show links:

Update note: Sorry about the crossfade between segments, folks -- not sure if I screwed something up or if the app I use for connecting segments went nuts.

If John McAfee Campaigns ...

... hard, every day, as loudly as possible, like he does from about the 30-minute mark to about the 35-minute mark here ...

... I'd put his chances of getting the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination at about 70%.

Can he close the deal?

Well, he's moving fast in that direction. The latest version of his web site's "issues" page is missing a couple of questionable elements (questionable from a libertarian vantage point, I mean) from the previous platform. My impression from the start was that those elements, which seemed out of sync with his long record of public advocacy, were "Cyber Party" boilerplate. We're starting to see something that comes off a lot more like The Real McAfee of yesteryear.

Developing ...

The Latest on my Biden Bet

"Joe Biden to win the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination" is currently trading at six cents per share on PredictIt, versus the five cents per share I paid for the 100 shares I hold. So in theory I could clear out now and make a whole dollar (in theory because there are fees deducted from PredictIt withdrawals).

I've got a sell offer out there of 50 cents a share, firm. But I'm thinking about pulling that offer and waiting to cash out at the full dollar per share value when he's nominated.

Why am I bullish on the shares' prospects today? See  this Washington Post op-ed and this Reuters story.

The Case for Rubio

Mickey Kaus makes it in spades:

Rubio's not going to drive Jeff Sessions from the capital. But you can count on the combination of President Rubio and Speaker Ryan to quickly pass an amnesty bill that (like the Gang of 8) contains only the most chimerical guarantees of new enforcement measures. You can also expect them to promote and defend trade, including "trade in services" that involves foreign workers performing those services on American soil."

Of course, Kaus considers that an attack on Rubio, not a plug for Rubio.

And of course I've never voted for a Republican for president, don't intend to ever vote for a Republican for president, and wouldn't rank Rubio very highly if I did consider voting for a Republican for president.

But damn, look at Kaus's argument: "This guy is the only even remotely likely nominee of either party who's in the same neighborhood as the ballpark of a sane, reasonable, pro-freedom border/immigration policy that's in any way even the tiniest bit consistent with American values. He must be stopped!"

Kind of sums up how FUBAR this whole election cycle is, doesn't it?