Why the Libertarian Party Might Spring a Surprise in the Upcoming US Elections

Share markets have settled a little. Gold has retreated a touch. The UK pound has gained some strength.

The Brexit LEAVE camp has surrendered some of its lead in the polls and the markets are reflecting that news. Perhaps the REMAIN scare campaign has done its job.

The polls still have it too close to call due to the undecided vote…but I feel it is not as undecided as they make it out to be.

The bookmakers are showing a decisive win to the ‘REMAIN’ camp. Outsiders can and do win against the odds, but, when push comes to shove, I think people will opt to go with the devil they know. We’ll know soon enough.

Speaking of devils; what about the US presidential candidates?

Here in New York — the heart of Clinton AND Trump territory — my contacts tell me fair-minded, thinking people are seriously lamenting the Republican and Democratic presidential choices they have. ‘How did we (as in, our nation) let it get so bad?’ is the question they are asking themselves.

Outside of their rusted-on supporters, both Trump and Clinton are despised by the broader electorate. Which is the lesser of two evils? Both are recognised as consummate liars who will say and do anything for power and money…and that’s saying something in the world of politics.

A vote for Clinton guarantees that the Oval Office door (and political favours) will be open to those with the fattest chequebooks. A vote for The Donald guarantees shoot from the lip policy and chaos…the backlash from a hostile Congress will put the US into a permanent state of suspension.

While the US president is perceived as the most powerful person in the world, the reality is a little different. Obama has been powerless to stop US federal debt from doubling during his presidency.

When Obama took office in January 2009, US government debt was a touch over US$10 trillion. When he leaves in January 2017, he’ll be known as the ‘$20 trillion man’. It took the US nearly a century to create the first US$10 trillion in debt, and it only took Obama eight years to add the same amount…well done Barack.

In March 2006 (10 years ago), as a US senator, Obama had this to say about the US’ burgeoning debt (which at the time stood at just over US$8 trillion):

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills… I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.’

If managing debt responsibility is the benchmark for leadership, Obama’s term as president has been — to use his words — a failure. In truth, it has been an abject failure.

However, it appears Americans are prepared to cut Obama some slack. His most recent Gallup Poll approval rating was 53%. His low point was in November 2014, with an approval rating of just 40%.

Everything is relative. My guess is that Americans are looking at what’s on offer (with Clinton and Trump) and have decided that spendthrift Obama looks pretty good by comparison.

The election of Trump or Clinton will not stop the accumulation of debt. If I was a betting man, my money would be on Clinton adding significantly more debt to the pile than Trump. But, then again, what’s a few trillion more or less in the scheme of things?

What most Americans do not realise is that there’s an alternative to the Republican and Democrat nominees. People with a proven track record in cutting government waste and trimming budgets.

Let me introduce you to Gary Johnson and his running mate, Bill Weld.

Gary who and Bill who?

Watch this space, because if momentum keeps building behind these two, you’ll start to hear their names mentioned more often. Even in Australia.

Gary Johnson was the Republican governor of New Mexico from 1994–2003. During his term as governor, he was named the ‘most fiscally conservative governor’ in the country.

Bill Weld was elected the Republican governor of Massachusetts, presiding in the seat from 1991 to 1997.

They are not political novices. They appreciate how the game is played.

Johnson and Weld are the president and vice president nominees for the Libertarian Party in the 2016 US election.

The Libertarian Party has as its creed — minimum government. Maximum freedom.

There’s a message that should resonate with voters — except, of course, with those who believe big government — with its stifling bureaucracy — is the answer to all our problems.

According to the Libertarian party’s website:

Johnson brings a distinctly business-like mentality to governing, believing that public policy decisions should be based on costs and benefits rather than strict ideology. Johnson is best known for his veto record, having vetoed more than 750 bills during his time in office — more than all other governors combined. His use of the veto pen has since earned him the nickname “Governor Veto.” He cut taxes 14 times while never raising them. When he left office, New Mexico was one of only four states in the country with a balanced budget. Term-limited, Johnson retired from public office in 2003.

From what people connected to the Libertarian party have told me — and I accept they would say this — Johnson and Weld are the real deal. Apparently they have the political, business and legal pedigree, common sense and experience to curb Washington’s wanton ways.

The polls are showing this message of an alternative candidate may be filtering out to the public.

Clinton is polling around 36%, Trump at 29% and Johnson at 12%. While 12% puts them a long way behind the celebrity frontrunners, they have garnered this support in a matter of weeks.

The critical support level is 15%. If Johnson can get poll numbers at 15% or better, he earns a place on the presidential debate podium next to Clinton and Trump.

The hope is that, if the public get to see and hear a contrast between liars and legitimacy, maybe, just maybe the poll numbers for the Libertarian party can climb.

Winning the election may be a bridge too far for a party that is as woefully outgunned as the Libertarian party is — in financial and human resources. But stranger things have happened…like Trump being the Republican presidential candidate.


Vern Gowdie,
Editor, The Gowdie Letter

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Markets and Money.

Vern is a contributing editor to Money Morning — Australia’s biggest circulation daily financial email. (To have Money Morning delivered straight to your inbox you can subscribe for free here).

Vern has been involved in financial planning since 1986. In 1999, Personal Investor magazine ranked Vern as one of Australia's Top 50 financial planners. His previous firm, Gowdie Financial Planning, was recognized in 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007, by Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) magazine as one of the top 5 financial planning firms in Australia.

Vern has been writing his 'Big Picture' column for regional newspapers since 2005 and has been a commentator on financial matters for Prime Radio talkback. His contrarian views often place him at odds with the financial planning profession. In his leisure time Vern remains active with triathlons and pilates.

Money Morning Australia