The 2016 presidential election cycle got a lot more interesting on September 8 when John McAfee announced his candidacy under the banner of a newly formed “Cyber Party.”
McAfee, whose eponymous computer security software made him a multi-millionaire, sports a long record of public eccentricity that I need not waste words on here — you can look up if you’re interested. What’s important about his eccentricity is that where it touches on politics, he generally supports two important values: Freedom and privacy.
I’m definitely down with those twin emphases, and so far McAfee seems like the only bright light in a pretty dark and dismal presidential field. If the election was held today, he’d have my vote from among the declared candidates. But the election is 14 months away, and I have a few suggestions to offer McAfee for making the most of those months.
First, I hope he’ll forget his plans for a new political party. If he’s serious about freedom and privacy (and I believe he is), there’s already a party ready-made for his candidacy: The Libertarian Party.
Libertarians substantially agree with McAfee on the issues he cares about.
The Libertarian Party has a long record of securing ballot access for its candidates in all, or nearly all, of the 50 states. That alone would save McAfee millions in campaign costs versus establishing a new party (I speak from experience — in 2006 I founded a new political party; that party was only able to get on the 2008 presidential ballot in four states).
Additionally, the Libertarian Party will run hundreds, if not thousands, of down-ticket candidates in 2016 — candidates who also substantially agree with McAfee on the core issues. He doesn’t need to create a new movement. There’s a movement already in place and awaiting his leadership.
Beyond affiliating with the Libertarian Party instead of going it alone, I hope McAfee will identify freedom as the core issue and clearly mark out privacy as an emergent property of that issue, not a separate issue per se.
A well-known, reasonably well-financed Libertarian candidate who takes the US government to task for its depredations — in particular warrantless searches and wiretaps, wholesale eavesdropping on telecommunications, and imprisonment or exile of heroic whistleblowers who expose government abuses (Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, to name two) — could tear this presidential race wide open. And that’s something we desperately need.
Thomas L. Knapp 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.
- “Election 2016: Can John McAfee Change The Game?” by Thomas L. Knapp, Ventura County, California Citizens Journal, 09/10/15