It’s been almost a year since Trump has been inaugurated as President and the Libertarians still are blaming Gary Johnson for their loss in 2016. The question is was Johnson’s lack of geography knowledge the reason for his demise or was it the fact that Clinton was such a bad candidate. Was she was so entrenched in her evil past that every Republican flocked out to vote for Trump? The answer isn’t simple. There are many reasons why the former Governor of New Mexico couldn’t beat the two of the most unliked candidates in the history of the United States.

It Was Rigged Against Him from the Beginning

For any candidate to be given legitimacy, they need to be given a platform to speak. Gary Johnson’s principal blunder was that he didn’t know how to ace an interview during his campaign. He also faced the issue of the duopoly on control of the national debates. In the Our America Initiative lawsuit against the CPD, he stated that it is impossible for any candidate to be taken seriously unless given the opportunity to debate in front of the country in the form of the nationally televised debates.

His most notable interview blunder was his “What is Aleppo?” moment where he was interviewed at 5 AM and asked what he would do regarding the horrible bombings happening in Aleppo, Syria. Of course, the interviewer didn’t say Syria — he only said the city name. Would the interviewer have given the same question worded exactly to Hillary Clinton? Probably not. It wasn’t fair to judge Johnson based on that soundbite alone because on the previous questions and the next questions he did fairly well on.

The debates were another issue. When it came to the second Presidential debate, Gary Johnson had surpassed 12% in national polls. The Commission on Presidential Debates had set the bar to 15% just two weeks after the poll was conducted, slashing Johnson from the debate. This was his biggest impediment because only the debates would sway the unaffiliated and undecided voters. His travels across college campuses and various other venues were not enough, he needed a bigger platform.

People Only Saw What They Were Given

Various pundits, both left wing and right wing, bashed Johnson from the beginning. They saw him as a spoiler, someone who only ran to run against the big two. Johnson made it very clear that he wasn’t a spoiler. He was someone to vote for instead of against. Media outlets made it a priority to report his blunders instead of his successes. Democrats were spreading every embarrassing video of Johnson they could find to detract voters away from him. He was a threat to Hillary Clinton and she wanted to mitigate that.

People, in general, have proven themselves to be lazy. They will not look into issues or candidates. It’s easier to listen to the pundits and accept their word at face value. Democrats and Republicans abused that fact in 2016, that’s why Gary Johnson did not get above 5%.

Johnson’s campaign was the best campaign the Libertarian Party had ever run. In 2012 and 2016 combined, Johnson had garnered more votes than all of the other Libertarian candidates ever run combined. That, if anything should show the resolve of Johnson and his campaign. Despite his bad image, he outdid all of the other previous campaigns. So for all of the haters, did Ron Paul or Harry Browne amass 4 million votes? No, no they did not.

If we continually apply the “purity test” of being like Harry Browne or Ron Paul then we will never get a candidate good enough to destroy the two-party system. In 2020 I have hopes of Larry Sharpe, Jesse Ventura or Adam Kokesh winning the nomination and being successful candidates. Will we allow it to happen for the good of the party, or will we end up with a stubborn candidate that gains only 200,000 votes?

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Richard is the co-founder of Rational Press. He is a libertarian-leaning conservative and a lifelong tinkerer. Contact: rm@rational.press