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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Libertarian Party no place for #NeverTrump and the Bernie bros

Since the presidential primary race (for both parties) began over a year ago, I’ve made it a point to concentrate on covering where the action was hottest. As a conservative, my focus has been almost exclusively on the Republican contest, though occasionally I’ve commented on the absurdity of the Democrats’ two-person competition to determine who would be the largest distributor of goodies to Democrat constituencies.

Along the way, of course, the #NeverTrump movement arose with its call for a third-party candidate to oppose the almost certain nominee for the Republicans. This ill-defined group consists of a few principled conservatives Donald Trumpand a lot of disgruntled establishment Republicans who at some point decided they no longer would participate in this year’s election.

With #NeverTrump’s failed attempts to find a conservative to run as an independent candidate, they could possibly be exploring another option now: the Libertarian Party.

W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner writes, “The Libertarian Party is gathering in Orlando, Fla., over Memorial Day weekend to choose its 2016 presidential nominee. With unpredictable (some might say quirky) party activists and no real primary system, there's no guarantee what the delegates will decide…

“Democrats and Republicans may scoff, but this is actually an above-average Libertarian presidential field: former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, famed antivirus software creator John McAfee and former Judge Andrew Napolitano producer Austin Petersen, whose pro-life stand and defense of religious liberty has earned him surprising conservative endorsements.”

It’s true, at least about the endorsements. Lead #NeverTrumper Erick Erickson put in a plug for Petersen the other day. In deciding to choose Petersen over the others, who most people likely have never heard of, Erickson indicated Gary Johnson’s naming of liberal former Republican Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld as his running mate just proved Johnson wouldn’t be right for wayward conservatives looking for an alternative to the Trump ticket.

Erickson stopped short of endorsing Petersen as his candidate this year, however, merely suggesting the media personality might make the Libertarians a credible party in 2016.

No matter. I highly doubt there will be any Libertarian breakthrough for a few reasons. First, even though the Libertarian Party will most likely have ballot access in all fifty states, I’m guessing most people have either never heard of the party or have no clue where it stands on the issues.

There’s a reason why the Democrats and Republicans have dominated American politics for so long – they’ve got a brand and some sort of ideological connection, though both have drifted towards big government and essentially just disagree on which constituency gets what favors.

In contrast, ask a person off the street what a “libertarian” is and I’ll bet they’ll start describing a (non-classic) liberal/progressive.

Second, even though this is a year for “outsiders,” there doesn’t seem to be any groundswell of opinion in favor of Johnson or any of the Libertarian Party candidates. Polls have shown people are open to another choice beyond Trump and Clinton, but when a specific candidate is mentioned, will voters automatically default to the unknown?

I don’t think so. Besides, Johnson already appeared on the ballot in 2012 and received less than 1 percent of the vote. He’s a professional politician who’s just running to get on TV at this point.

Lastly, the Libertarian Party candidate can’t possibly hope to compete with the Democrat and Republican nominees in terms of media coverage. For better or worse, media outlets focus on the “winners,” or at least where a story is most likely to grab attention.

I have a hard time believing many journalists will want to risk their column space or airtime with Gary Johnson. Aside from the fact hardly anyone knows him, he’s boring.

And the Libertarian Party candidate won’t get a boost from the presidential debates, either.

Brian Doherty of Politico Magazine writes, “Johnson believes the only way to avoid a repeat of his 2012 showing is getting into a nationally televised presidential debate with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. That’s not going to be easy: The rules of the Commission on Presidential Debates will admit only candidates who are on enough ballots to actually win in the Electoral College (no problem) and who poll at least 15 percent in five different polls.”

Here we have a scenario similar to the Republican presidential debates where the field was so large the event hosts had to divide the participants into the top tier on the main stage and the also-rans in the undercard forum based on poll numbers alone.

Johnson and the Libertarians likely won’t make the cut, especially as Trump continues to consolidate Republican support behind his candidacy.

It’s very possible there could be some kind of strange “alliance” between the #NeverTrumpers and the “Bernie bros” to back the Libertarian nominee, but there’s an awful wide ideological gap for anyone to bridge in order to bring these two groups together.

The Libertarian Party and #NeverTrump have at least one thing in common: they’ll both end up losing in November. That doesn’t seem to bother Libertarian Party members in the slightest, since they’ve basically signed-up to lose just by virtue of their party membership.

I would ask: is there an official Libertarian Party member in America who actually believes they will win an election…anywhere? Sure, you might get a “small l” libertarian election winner under the Republican brand, like Representatives Thomas Massie of Kentucky or Justin Amash of Michigan.

Or even Senator Rand Paul, also of Kentucky. But they’re all Republicans officially.

#NeverTrump, on the other hand, still maintains that they want to win. They want to stop Trump – and Hillary in most cases – but they also want someone to magically take his place as president. Or, in the alternative, create such chaos in the Electoral College that no one wins and the House of Representatives would then assume its constitutional duty to elect a new president.

Again, it just ain’t gonna happen.

It’s safe to say most limited government principled conservatives have a lot of libertarian beliefs. Ronald Reagan himself said of libertarianism, “If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals — if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

But Reagan also knew the home for these libertarian beliefs was in the GOP. Likewise, the Republican Party isn’t a conservative party, but most conservatives are Republicans.

I guess the #NeverTrumpers and Bernie bros are out of luck no matter who the Libertarian Party chooses this weekend.

Leftist protests carrying Trump’s message for him

The week before the crucial Indiana primary, several violent protests broke out prior to Donald Trump campaign events that were covered heavily by the media – or at least the conservative-leaning media outlets.

Regardless of what the commentators said, video viewers saw hordes of hoodlums stomping on police cars, climbing traffic lights, waving Mexican flags and clashing with police. There was also the image of a bloodied guy wearing a Trump shirt who got too close to the mob. It couldn’t have made for a better Trump campaign commercial if they’d paid for it.

The Donald won the Indiana primary in landslide fashion, Ted Cruz left the race and I credited the Mexican flag for Trump’s victory there.

This week has seen similar protests in New Mexico and Illinois. Don’t be surprised if Trump’s poll numbers again receive a bounce because of them. They’re even helping Trump’s detractors sympathize with him – a little.

Dave Scharoun of The Resurgent writes, “[Tuesday night’s] events, coupled with the recent chaos in places like Ferguson and Baltimore, only serve to further engender these voters to Trump’s brand of populist nationalism. These voters feel that their voices are being silenced by a brigade of aggressive left-wing culture warriors who no longer wish to hear opposing views in the public square. In many ways, these people are not wrong.

“I oppose Donald Trump based on his lack of conservative credentials and the flimsiness of his moral foundation. But such tactics from the left cause me to sympathize with his supporters and his message. And I know I am not alone. If such activities are to continue for the next five months, more and more Republicans who would otherwise oppose Trump will warm up to him in order to oppose this Alinsky-style censorship. If the lines on the battlefield are drawn between Trumpian nationalism and anti-American self-loathing, most Americans will gravitate towards the side that at least dares to wave the flag.”

I couldn’t agree more and Scharoun’s article hints at a means for Trump to win over people who otherwise wouldn’t consider him. Trump should make these protestors a central part of his message along with his usual calls for border security and protecting America from Muslim terrorism.

Trump supporters aren’t racists, even if many of the #NeverTrumpers insist they are. They’re people who are outraged when anti-American forces use foreign flags to express their displeasure against a pro-American message.

These freaks would likely be doing the same against any Republican candidate, but the fact it’s Trump helps fan the flames.

Scharoun is right – these fanatics are making the case for Trump, and if he wins, they might just deserve the credit.

Are young people driving the Trump poll surge?

A lot of folks were surprised when Donald Trump crept back to being close to even in the Real Clear Politics average (currently Clinton +1), but it wasn’t exactly clear why there was such a dramatic shift in voter preferences in just the past few weeks.

One of the polls may provide a clue.

Commenting on the ABC survey that came out earlier this week (showing Trump ahead 46-44 over Hillary Clinton), Ron Meyer of Red Alert Politics writes, “Clinton’s support among young voters ages 18 to 29 has dropped 19 percent since March — and Trump has gained 17 percent support from the same demographic. That’s a 36 percent swing.

“While Clinton leads Trump in the demographic 45 to 42 percent, this margin in the general election would ensure a Republican landslide. Mitt Romney lost the youth vote to Barack Obama by more than 20 percent, and even a 10 percent Democrat margin would still ensure a decisive victory for Trump.”

This is indeed a significant development for the Trump campaign. It could mean The Donald has gone from someone who’s “scary” to the highly impressionable younger generation to someone who’s “cool,” at least compared to Hillary Clinton.

I’m admittedly biased, but I can’t see how Clinton’s screechy old lady routine is palatable to younger people. She’s so outwardly phony and obviously a liar. We’re also 20+ years removed from Bill Clinton’s saxophone playing appearance on the Arsenio Hall show. Bill was a sleazebag and everyone knew it…but he was a lovable good ‘ol boy who could relate to people, especially the younger crowd.

Hillary is nothing like her husband. She clearly hates people and her facial expressions and tone of voice gives her away. Even decrepit old Bernie Sanders relates to average people much better than her.

No wonder the youngsters are turning towards The Donald. We’ll see if the good feeling lasts.

Rubio to Trump: Sure, I’ll speak at the convention if you want me to

Finally this week, with all the acrimony during the Republican primary campaign, it wasn’t at all clear whether Donald Trump’s former rivals would be willing to come to the party convention and speak on his behalf.

We still haven’t heard from main competitor Ted Cruz and I’m thinking it will be a while before we do, but “Little” Marco Rubio not only seems okay with the idea, he’d be “honored.”

Jessie Hellmann of The Hill reports Rubio told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “Certainly, yeah. I want to be helpful…

“I don't want to be harmful because I don't want Hillary Clinton to be president. My policy differences with Donald Trump — I've spent a lot of months talking about them, so I think they're understood.”

There have been a lot of rumors lately that Rubio is reconsidering his decision not to run for reelection to his Florida Senate seat (deadline to file is in about a month). His offer to speak at the GOP’s huge Trump celebration could be a signal he’s looking to hook on to the Trump bandwagon for such an effort.

Or who knows, maybe Rubio just wants to see the band Journey, which will appear at the post-convention party.

Whatever the reason for Rubio’s change of heart, with Donald Trump in charge of the festivities, it should be one heck of a show.

Here’s hoping everyone has a happy and meaningful Memorial Day weekend!

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Rand Paul Boost Trump as VP

Libertarianism has some of the same principle as the Tea Party, so a Rand Paul choice as a VP running mate could possibly boost a Trump win to the White House. Rand has fought for Pro Life issues harder than anyone. He's got Libertarian values which is to keep out Federal over reach, and, unlike his Father, Ron Paul, has a more realistic idea of what the military should do here and abroad. He has made overtures to Israel, which is a necessary ally in the middle east. I doubt if Trump would choose him because of their frackus at the debates, but Trump can forgive and forget, and Rand said he would support Trump if he is the nominee.