That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.
Antony and Cleopatra,  Act 1, Scene 2

Unsilent Truth
November 15, 2016

Lucy’s football

Some LP results, 2016


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This column is based on numbers provided by the New York Times, not the "official" numbers, which will not be available until ... well, until they appear when the next World Almanac comes out. (It probably comes as a surprise to some to learn that the results reported by the New York Times are not the controlling ones. For you kids dependent on the Internet, The World Almanac is a print-based book that comes out annually in late December. We graybeards still refer to it for information, tending to trust its researchers over the slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am postings on the Internet, where the writers still haven't mastered the use of the objective case after prepositions or the nominative case as the subject of verbs. It has an Internet site, but why use it, when there is a proofread print version readily at hand?)

My topic is: how did the Libertarian Party fare in the recent so-called election?

The answer? Better in certain ways than in the past; pretty much the same in others. It got about 4 million votes, with about 3 percent of the vote, in a contest dominated by what were probably the two most unpopular leading candidates in U.S. history. (Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, also tripled her party's percentage from less than 0.5 percent in 2012 to about 1 percent this year.) The LP candidate was on the ballot in all 50 states. Overall, he came in third, thereby equaling the "achievement" of Ron Paul in 1988 and David Bergland in 1984, each of whom got less than 0.5 percent of the overall vote when they were the standard-bearers. Again, the party won no Electoral votes, and therefore it did not cause the election to be thrown into the House of Representatives, which is always the minimal promise of third-party candidates.

There were some interesting oddities this year. One is that, although he was on the ballot, its candidate was listed without a party affiliation in Ohio, where he was listed with "No Designation" (Jill Stein was listed as "Green"), and in Tennessee, and Alabama, where he and Jill Stein were both listed as "Independent." In those states, he fared no worse and no better than in the states where he was on the ballot as "Libertarian."

As everybody knows, there was a sizable contingent of Republicans and Republican-sympathizers who vowed never to vote for Donald Trump. They supported a variety of candidates. (George W. Bush — had he been reading The Last Ditch? — eschewing both the Lusitania, with its illegal cargo, and the luxury liner Titanic, did not vote for president this year; he left that part of his ballot blank.) One of those candidates was former CIA operations officer Evan McMullin.

McMullin was on the ballot in 11 states, and a write-in candidate in all but seven of the others. He had no party organization behind him, but there was at least one "super PAC" supporting him. McMullin came in third in Utah, with about 175,000 votes. At one point, he polled ahead of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He won 20 percent of the vote in Utah.

Let's think about that for a moment: a candidate with no party structure, who was on the ballot in only 11 states, whose running mate was not even on the ballot, and who declared in August 2016, managed to win 20 percent of the vote in a state.

The Libertarian Party has never had a candidate who polled 20 percent in any so-called national election. It has been in existence since 1972. In its 12 attempts to win the presidency, it has received one Electoral vote, and even that one it did not win; it was awarded it by a renegade GOP elector (who became its candidate for the presidency the following cycle).

The one place the LP candidate did even a little bit well this year was New Mexico, where he received 9.3 percent of the vote. He was well known locally, having been a two-term Republican governor of that state. His running mate, a former governor of Massachusetts (also co-chairman of Mitt Romney's campaign in New York in 2012 and a supporter of Barack Obama in 2008 — such were his libertarian credentials), did not seem to bring in any extra support for the ticket.

As in previous years, there are no senators or congressmen from the Libertarian Party going to Washington next year. (Even when Ron Paul was in Congress, he was a Republican congressman, not a Libertarian congressman.)

And all this in the wake of the exciting, but ultimately failed (Republican) candidacy of Ron Paul for the Republican nomination in 2012.

In 2020, we shall almost certainly hear that the LP has excellent chances of affecting the outcome of that so-called election, assuming it takes place. We shall almost certainly hear that it is an excellent tool for educating the American public. It is even conceivable that its candidate, unlike this year's, will be someone who will pledge to work to repeal the anti-discrimination laws (which is to say, the pro-discrimination, anti–free association laws) of the United States. It could happen.

But looking over the past 12 efforts, one wants to say to the people who will contribute their money, their time, their talents to its efforts, "Is that really the best option you have?" Ω

November 15, 2016

Published in 2016 by WTM Enterprises.

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