By Mike Tront
Being a libertarian around election time has its ups and downs. On the positive side, election time is the only time when people actually care about what libertarians have to say! On the other hand, being a third party means we have to listen to cries of “supporting your team means the bad team will win!” The “bad team” being the Democrats or Republicans, depending on who we’re talking to.
This election is unique, though. Never have there been two more hated people running for president. This hatred, coupled with the normal derisiveness of politics, pretty much ensures that whomever wins in 2016 will lose in 2020. The cruel fact is that the only person who can lose to Hillary Clinton is Donald Trump, and vice versa! So unless we have a repeat of Trump vs. Hillary in 2020, we’re going to have a new president in 2020.
If Trump Wins
Although it seems like a long shot for him to win now, Trump has come back many times before after being counted out. So what if he does win? What would four years of Trump really look like? Well, if you’re thinking that he will change Washington in any way, shape, or form, you will be disappointed. Just like Obama had every intention of putting his mark of “change” on the country, while failing miserably, so too will Trump. Whether it’s the entrenched bureaucracy, enemies on both sides of the isle, or just simply his own unwillingness to give up the power he just won, government will only get bigger. Not smaller.
Troops will continue to be engaged abroad, thus creating more enemies and more attacks on the U.S. The currency will continue its inflation and inevitable march toward disaster. Unfunded liabilities will only get worse. The debt will continue ballooning. The War on Drugs will continue to rage, thus creating more problems and distrust with police in our inner cities. Trump has no plans to tackle these problems with small government solutions.
In other words, a Trump presidency will be looked at as a failure. This is particularly bad because Trump is seen as a true “outsider.” So instead of blaming the system for the inevitable decline, the country will collectively blame Trump himself. This will lead to a resurgence of the establishment candidates. This will also lead to people generally being gun shy about supporting newcomers and outsiders. The Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders types will have an even harder time after a Trump presidency.
A Trump presidency will not only make things worse during his four years in power, but it will also make it harder to bring support behind an actual candidate friendly to human liberty in 2020.
If Hillary Wins
We all know that Hillary is doing her victory lap right now. The media, and the general public, don’t care about her “pay to play” allegations. And Trump is an increasingly unlikable man for larger parts of the public with each passing day.
So, as my title suggests, how will Hillary bring an even larger freedom movement in 2020? First, she will have the same failures that Trump will have. Increasing war, debt, unfunded liabilities, inflation, police violence, etc will lead to the U.S. being worse off leading into the 2020 election. But with one important distinction. Hillary is the ultimate establishment candidate. Her failures might just be the straw that breaks the camels back.
The big government policies of Bush II led to the Ron Paul movement. Now we actually have a few libertarian republicans in Congress. The big government policies of Obama has led to the Bernie Sanders movement. Even though Bernie is a big government type as well, some of his supporters seem to be friendly to many aspects of libertariansism. In fact, Hillary is so scared of these democratic voters leaving her for Gary Johnson that she’s actually running attack ads against Johnson. Who would have ever thought that libertarians would be relevant enough in politics to run attack ads against? This is great news for our movement.
So what would happen after we have another four years of establishment, big government policies and people running the show? Especially from a president as widely disliked as Clinton? We can only hope this will be enough to push people from both sides of the isle to really look at smaller government solutions. Rand Paul has already shown his desire to become president. In 2020 he won’t have his Senate race to worry about, and hopefully he’s learned that embracing liberty is a much better selling point than his strategy of courting the republican establishment. Justin Amash has also hinted at his desire to run for president at some point in the future. There’s no one more consistent than him in Congress when it comes to defending liberty.
Then of course we have the rise of the Libertarian Party. Gary Johnson, for all his faults, has propelled the Libertarian Party into the mainstream media. There’s a very real chance that he could get 5% of the vote this year, which would be five times more votes than they’ve ever received. This would also mean the Libertarian Party would become eligible for federal matching funds. The combination of more press and more money to campaign with could lead to more libertarian ideas entering the news cycles, thus leading to more liberty friendly candidates getting a shot at the presidency.
Either way, we’re in for another four years of big government. I’m not ready to start a Libertarians for Hillary movement, but there’s no doubt that she’ll create more dissatisfaction with big government, and thus more people seeking out libertarian solutions in 2020.
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