This year I’ve been selected as a delegate from New York for the National Libertarian Party Convention, which means I’ll be one of a select group that has the opportunity to vote for who is the Presidential nominee in 2016, a responsibility I take quite seriously.

There are several factors that should be considered in picking a nominee probably in this priority:

– Do they represent faithfully the spirit of the values of the party.

– Do they have broad appeal beyond the parties base supporters.

– Do they effectively present the ideas of liberty in compelling and accessible ways

– Do they have an effective team to take advantage of media and marketing opportunities

– Does the candidate show an ability to be a benefit to the party beyond the election cycle (will they stick around and stay involved)

Now this year has to be one of the most impressive fields of candidates the Libertarian Party has put forth and I’ve had the pleasure to meet and interact with many of the candidates and can safely say that all of them are individuals I can enthusiastically support and plan to be supportive of whether they are the nominee or not in any of their future endeavors, but alas I can only vote for 1.

Without a doubt three candidates seem to be the most likely nominees and they are of course Gary Johnson, John Mcafee, and Austin Peterson and each of them are strong candidates that offer three very distinct paths for how this year may play out, none of them being a bad one.

Gary Johnson/William Weld
PROS: No one can deny that a ticket with two popular two term governors espousing generally libertarian positions is by far the most electable ticket. This has several benefits as even if Johnson/Weld does not win the big prize it may bring enough cross over votes for electoral wins down ballot. Johnson/Weld would definetley be the choice that is respectable to the media talking heads and the Washington establishment. I do not take the imperfections of both of their Governorships as faults as the pressures of any politician is much more complex than we often give credit for and it’s truly hard to separate what is truly in their control and what isn’t. I’ve met Gary and he seems to be a honest nice guy who believe in what he is doing, Weld I haven’t met and don’t know as much about.
CONS: Out of all the candidates Johnson is by far the least able to articulate libertarian principles in a coherent philosophy mainly using utilitarian arguments (which admittedly have more mass appeal) to make his case which raises the concern if people who listen to Johnsons message will actually become anymore “libertarian” than they were before. Also if Johnson/Weld do not win I doubt Gary Johnson would run again in 2020 so this is likely the swan song for Johnson and Weld before a what I think would likely be a retirement from electoral politics. So if this were to be Johnson and Welds last campaign we’d be investing money and time developing the name ID and recognition of two individuals who may not stick around to take advantage of that investment.

John Mcafee/Judd Weiss
PROS: I absolutely love listening to John Mcafee talk, his campaign is utter libertarian porn hitting all the right buttons for a hardcore libertarian such as myself. His approach is direct and disruptive which may get through to some, mainly young burgeoning radicals who have yet to discover where to channel their radical energies into. These new entrants would be active and likely loyal additions to the party. Also, nothing expresses a comfort with our libertarianism than nominating a no apologies candidate like Mcafee which is the opposite of trying to beg for a seat at the big kids table by nominating “traditional” candidates, it would instead be flying a very large middle finger at the table saying we will build our own table thank you.
CONS: Mcafee would also reaffirm many mainstream voters worst fears about libertarian stereotypes which is unfortunate. It may grow our appeal with young radicals but I’m not sure if it may also build a ceiling to our appeal outside of that. I absolutely enjoy Mcafee, him and Darryl Perry are probably closer to my personal views on most issues than any of the other candidates but as presidential candidates fail to meet much of my above criteria, but I really hope he sticks around I think he has a lot to offer in energizing the base and being an effective media personality. Regarding Judd Weiss as VP, I just really want to be in one of his awesome photos.

Austin Petersen/Larry Sharpe
(Austin has not declared that he wants Larry to be his VP pick, but I think he’s the natural choice)
PROS: Austin Petersen has been quite impressive, and I didn’t expect much when he initially declared. Austin Petersen effectively emulates a very Ron Paul type message and delivery, and has been able to get some very young and enthusiastic support that very much reminds me of my younger self supporting Ron Paul with an almost fevered joy, and that’s the kind of enthusiasm I like to see a candidate inspire While Petersens libertarian message finds a nice spot in between Gary Johnson super soft libertarianism and John Mcafees hardcore libertarianism. Petersen has been extremely successful at using social media to his advantage and garnering media despite having a lot less name recognition than Mcafee and Johnson. If Austin Peterson teamed up with a fellow youthful marketing maven in Larry Sharpe (Who is also a veteran) can prove to be a powerful mix of great presentation with a message that isn’t too diluted. I can see investing time and money developing Petersen/Sharpe as household names paying real dividends as they are sure to be involved in the party probably for decades to come. If any team can exceed expectations it would probably be Petersen and Sharpe, and it would probably set them both up for what would be a strong and fascinating battle against each other for the 2020 nomination (with two individuals whose name ID will be well established from our work this year).
CONS: While I see no downside to Sharpe, Petersen does bring along a few concerns. While Petersens positions and presentation of his ideas are quite consistently libertarian his rejection of the NAP can be quite confusing and offputting as it muddys the water unnecessarily and will make for some work as his converts find their place within the party. While Austin Petersen is a success in his own right, his accomplishments which are great especially at his age can be a little stark in contrast with his older competitors in the LP and in the major parties.

So who do I endorse?

I endorse Austin Petersen for President, and Larry Sharpe for for Vice President

Why?

John Mcafee is too bold of a candidate to achieve what I hope can be achieved in the general election and Gary Johnson feel more and more too light of a candidate despite on paper being the best candidate. Austin Petersen is essentially the goldilocks candidate who isn’t too bold and isn’t too light, on paper he should be the worst candidate (inexperienced, lower name ID, not as personally wealthy) but Austin has been able to overcome all those hurdles to exceed expectations time and time again while on paper Johnson should be the best candidate but has continually been not meeting those expectations in practice and I have no reason to believe either trend will not continue.

Again, I do not want to give the impression that Johnson or McAfee would not be amazing candidates that I adore and would enthusiastically support (as I would Perry, Feldman, Sterling, etc.) but when it comes to what I think is in the long term best interest of the party a Austin Petersen and Larry Sharpe ticket just makes the most sense for it’s ability to educate, inspire and grow the movement to a broader movement with the message intact. I also hope this post serves as a thoughtful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the different candidates so they can all think about how capitalize on their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses, because the liberty movement needs them all at their best.