"HE'S GOING TO finish certainly no worse than second, and maybe first," Libertarian Party (L.P.) 2016 vice presidential nominee Bill Weld enthused about Massachusetts state auditor candidate Dan Fishman in mid-October. And once Fish-man grabs all those votes, Weld declared, "[We're going] to make a list of every campaign for whatever office this year that Libertarians fare no worse than second, and then we're going to take that and publicize it strongly. I think that's going to be a crevasse in the two-party monopoly."
It looked like Weld might be onto something two weeks later when The Boston Globe took the highly unusual step of endorsing the L.P. candidate for a job that's been held, in all living memory, by Democrats. "Fishman would bring a sorely needed independent streak to the office," the region's dominant newspaper proclaimed. "Give this Libertarian a shot."
Massachusetts voters declined the advice. When the smoke cleared on November 6, the would-be Libertarian auditor for the government of Taxachusetts finished not first, not second, but a distant third place, with a desultory 4.2 percent of the vote. The effort was enough to give the party automatic statewide ballot access for 2020--no small achievement--but not enough to stave off the national wave of nausea that afflicted many libertarians on election day.
President Donald Trump, who was rebuked when the House of Representatives flipped Democratic yet emboldened by the Senate getting more Republican, chose in his three weeks of closing arguments not to campaign on the libertarian-friendly grounds of tax cuts, judicial appointments, regulatory reforms, and the economic growth that has thus far accompanied all three. Instead, by his own admission, he opted to whip up fear of a distant caravan of northbound asylum-seekers, asserting without evidence that there were likely terrorists among them and making daily noises about massing troops along the U.S.-Mexico border and unilaterally revoking the privilege of birthright citizenship enshrined in the 14th Amendment. His final commercial, about a deranged illegal-immigrant cop-killer, was rejected on content grounds by Fox News.
Democrats, on the other hand, campaigned hard on Medicare for All, even though our current Medicare-for-seniors system is projected to run out of money by 2026. With the annual federal budget deficit zooming back north of the ominous $1 trillion threshold despite nine years of economic growth and a booming...