After the Circus, Consider Your Options

Libertarian Party Logo
Libertarian Party Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe I don’t get out enough, but among people I’ve talked with about next year’s presidential election there’s a deep feeling of disgust. Watching the Republicans debate and the Democrats speechify, their feeling so far is “Really? We can’t do any better than these clowns?”

I feel their pain — and, I suspect, yours too. I wouldn’t leave my wallet alone in a room with any of the guys or gals running for president on a “major party” ticket. But then, I usually feel that way.

What’s changing is that more and more people are agreeing with me. Since 2004, according to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who think we need a “third party” has risen from 40% to as high as 60%. The percentage of Americans who think the Republicans and Democrats do an “adequate” job has fallen from 56% to 35%.

So, enjoy the circus for now, I guess, but as Donald Trump pedals his giant tricycle around and Hillary Clinton juggles disappearing email servers, keep the “third party” thing in mind …. and don’t forget that there already IS a third party working hard to earn your support.

The Libertarian Party boasts 152 currently serving elected public officials, ranging from city council members to fire and water district representatives.

The party has yet to elect a governor, congressmember or president, but not for lack of trying. The first woman to receive an electoral vote wasn’t Geraldine Ferraro; it was the Libertarian Party’s first vice-presidential nominee, Tonie Nathan, in 1972. The party has elected hundreds of local officials and a few state representatives. It’s clearly a serious political player. If you’re unhappy with the “major party” offerings, why not take a closer look?

Darryl W. Perry, Cecil Anthony Ince and Marc Feldman have already declared for the Libertarian Party’s 2016 presidential nomination. Rumor has it that the elephant in the room (pun intended — he’s the former Republican governor of New Mexico), Gary Johnson, may throw his hat in the Libertarian ring again and try to top his 2012 total of 1.6 million votes.

Pay attention. Explore. If you’re not a libertarian, check out the Greens, the Constitution Party, heck, even the Prohibition Party. There ARE alternatives to the “major party” freak show.

Or you can keep on doing what you’ve always done and get what you’ve always got. Because that’s worked so well in the past, right?

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.




  • Certainly polls keep saying more and more people believe we need a “third party”. As you pointed out, though, there are plenty of political parties and the last time one had a very credible candidate in past two term Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Yet he only got around 1% of the vote. People don’t often have that sort of choice but, when they do, they still vote RepDem.

    Back in 2013 I wrote about the issue, hoping to come up with something so enlightening and hard hitting I’d have Reason and Liberty magazines begging to publish it. Nope. Not even close. It’s all very simple and you can read it here, assuming this will accept links. It didn’t, so here’s the tiny url:

    • Fred,

      That’s a good piece! So now I have to chew you out: For the love of God, when you write something like that, LET ME KNOW so I can show it to RRND’s readers!

  • And, fwiw, I’ve said for months I’d consider voting for Rand Paul but thought he had little, if any, chance of winning the Rep nomination. With his seeming to move toward the War Party as of late, I guess it’s Gary Johnson this next time.

    • Johnson hasn’t even formally announced whether or not he’ll be running again, and there are other candidates for the nomination. Personally, I’m still supporting None of The Above.