(Los Angeles Daily News columnist, Susan Shelley, wrote this after visiting the LP State Convention last month)
“When Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson filed a lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates last September, he couldn’t have known that in April, the Democratic and Republican party frontrunners would have unfavorable ratings of 55 percent and 63 percent, respectively. Those polling numbers alone are a good reason to allow the Libertarian into this fall’s presidential debates.
Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico, was the party’s nominee for president in 2012. More than a million people voted for him, even though he was excluded from the presidential debates by the rules of a commission that is controlled by Republicans and Democrats.
The lawsuit on behalf of Johnson and 2012 Green Party nominee Jill Stein contends that the debates are an illegal monopoly. Campaigning for president is a multi-billion-dollar business, attorney Bruce Fein argues, and the debates are to the election what the Super Bowl is to the NFL — a highly viewed television event worth an estimated $1 billion to each candidate. But minor-party candidates can’t get into the commission’s debates unless they can reach 15 percent in five unspecified national polls, and the major-party candidates are barred from participating in debates sponsored by anyone else. Fein says this is “anti-competitive” and illegal.
Still, Johnson might be on the debate stage regardless of the lawsuit. He has already reached 11 percent in the Monmouth University poll’s hypothetical match-up against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and he’s not even the nominee yet. The Libertarian party will make its choice on May 29 at its national convention in Orlando.
Although a dozen candidates will appear on the Libertarian ballot in California, the state’s June 7 primary is too late to affect the outcome. But the state party did host a presidential debate during its recent convention at an LAX-area hotel, where 10 candidates, including Johnson, offered a political philosophy that some of them described as, “Don’t hurt me, and don’t take my stuff.”
Another Libertarian candidate for president is John McAfee, founder of the computer security and anti-virus software company that bears his name. McAfee is sounding the alarm over U.S. government incompetence in the field of cybersecurity. “We are decades behind the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians,” McAfee said, pointing to a series of hacking incidents including the breach of government employee records in the Office of Personnel Management, a sequence of attacks on power plants, and an attempt to control a dam in New York which failed only because the systems were off-line for maintenance. “Our government refuses to hire the best people,” McAfee said, “because the best people have purple hair, tattoos and piercings, and they want to smoke weed while they work. So the Russians are hiring them.”
McAfee also questions the truthfulness of the FBI’s assertion that it had no way to break into the San Bernardino shooter’s phone unless Apple weakened the security of the iPhone’s operating system. In an interview with Forbes, McAfee said the FBI could have unlocked the phone “immediately” with a device in their possession, a Cellebrite UFED Touch. They didn’t, he believes, “because they wanted to use this opportunity to gain a legal precedent.”
Libertarians favor strong protections for privacy and civil liberties. They also support a non-interventionist foreign policy, greater economic freedom, and some degree of drug legalization. It’s anybody’s guess whether a candidate with those positions would take more votes from a Democrat or a Republican, but in November, the Libertarian candidate for president will be on the ballot in all 50 states. The voters deserve to hear what he has to say.”