Election 2024: The More The Merrier, But Candidates Should Stay In Their Own Lanes

Photo by Gage Skidmore. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Photo by Gage Skidmore. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr.,” Politico reports, “is in talks to run on the Libertarian Party presidential ticket — a move that could translate his popularity into becoming a near-guaranteed choice on ballots in all 50 states.”

Kennedy also plans to announce his choice of running mate, likely tech lawyer Nicole Shanahan, on March 26. Presidential and vice-presidential candidates can spend unlimited money on their own campaigns and Shanahan’s a multi-billionaire, meaning that a  Kennedy/Shanahan ticket could go toe to toe with Joe Biden and Donald Trump when it comes to campaign finances.

However, I see some major problems with the idea of a Kennedy/Shanahan as a Libertarian Party presidential ticket.

First, a disclaimer: I’ve been involved with the Libertarian Party since 1996.  In 2022, when what I deemed a Republican “infiltrate and neuter” operation (my opinion) operating as a PAC/caucus “took over” (their own words) the party’s management, I withdrew from involvement. I am, however, back, and will attend the party’s national convention in Washington, DC over Memorial Day weekend. I hope and expect that actual libertarians will regain control.

Problem One: Kennedy is not a Libertarian. I don’t intend that as an insult. Some of his policy positions do align with the party’s, others don’t, and some completely contradict the party’s platform. Political parties should nominate candidates who support their platforms and policy positions. Candidates who don’t support a party’s platform and policy positions should run as independents or seek the nominations of parties they’re more representative of.

Problem Two: Being “in talks” to run on the Libertarian Party’s ticket is a meaningless claim. Unlike the major parties, the Libertarian Party has “unbound” delegates. More than a thousand of them. They vote as they choose, not as they’re required to by e.g. primary election results. If Kennedy wants the nomination, he’ll have to have some great “talks” with those delegates. And since most of them are already selected, he’ll have to do so AT the convention.

Problem Three:  Getting the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination is far from becoming “a near-guaranteed choice on ballots in all 50 states.” The party HAS managed to get 50-state ballot access before. But not always … and at present, after two years of destruction at the hands of the aforementioned the party is a shell of what it formerly was. Fifty state ballot access isn’t impossible, but it’s not “near-guaranteed.”

RFK, Jr. is a poor fit for the Libertarian Party’s objectives, and the party really doesn’t have as much to offer him as the Politico article implies.

Which is not to say he shouldn’t run for president. That’s his call. But he should run in his own lane instead of trying to get the Libertarian Party to run itself off the road for him.

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