Gary “What is Aleppo?” Johnson is a doofus but he could mean the death of the Republican Party if he reaches that magical number tonight: 5% of the popular vote.
If the Libertarian Party passes that milestone, they get a whole bunch of money from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. Chances are, the Libertarian Party would forgo that money because it prevents from raising any money on their own, but it would be a clear signal to Republican voters that maybe, just maybe, there’s another conservative party they can jump ship to.
Now that Trump’s deplorables control the Republican Party, moderate Republicans are faced with a set of unpalatable choices:
A. Keep voting for a party that has openly embraced pure racism (and little else) as a core principle.
B. Vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
C. Not vote at all.
But if the Libertarians become even slightly viable, it’s not hard to imagine millions of Republican voters taking over their primary and selecting someone less goofy than Johnson. If you didn’t see Samatha Bee’s segment about the Libertarian convention, watch it and you’ll see how little coordinated effort it would take to co-opt this collection of bellicose dimwits and turn the Party into something semi-respectable.
We already saw this happen after the disaster that was the Bush presidency. Republican voters were so ashamed of what their party had done that they took over the Tea Party and pretended they weren’t Republicans anymore. Eventually, the lunatics ran the aslyum and turned the Tea Party into a racist, anti-government madhouse. It’s unlikely they’ll leave the party of their dreams when the moderates head for the hills.
Even worse for Republicans, it’s also not that hard to imagine the GOP’s big money donors abandoning the dumpster fire that the Republican Party is rapidly becoming. The majority of them are not Hobby Lobby-types that care about gay marriage and abortion. Most of them care about deregulating drinking water so they have someplace to store their toxic waste and the Libertarian Party is made to order. If Big Money senses an appetite among conservative voters for the Libertarian alternative, a whole lot of Super PACs are going to appear.
Sure, a newly-relevant Libertarian Party would peel off a few Democratic voters but not nearly as many as it will from the Republican Party. While the Libertarian positions on abortion and legalizing marijuana are in line with liberal beliefs, their entire economic message is anathema to anyone even remotely concerned about wealth inequality or regulating Wall Street.
Does this mean you should vote Libertarian today? No! Vote blue and vote like you mean it. But keep your fingers crossed that there’s enough disaffected Republican voters to push Johnson over that line. Anything that splits the conservative vote makes it that much harder for Trump’s white nationalist monsters to exert their dangerous influence on the country.