Two days ago a bunch of pro-Trump people stormed the US capitol, thrashed some offices, and generally tried to disrupt the final certification of the electoral college vote and the confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.  Since then social media has been abuzz with the talk about the details and the implications.  There’s been a combination of frustration, hand wringing, disgust, anger, confusion, and a lot of other things besides.

Suffice to say I have Some Thoughts on the matter.

First off, this was a disgusting action by a bunch of pro-tyranny, often horribly racist idiots pissed that their tyrant didn’t win. 

This was not any great day for freedom or righteous assault on a terrible place.  Had it escalated the worst possible outcome was a civil war with no good sides, rather than a good side and a bad side.

This was not the work of antifa or some false flag operation, and to say so is some of the most ignorant, delusional, and rank stupidity I have ever heard in over 20 years of being politically aware.

Spike Cohen’s call for understanding is admirable, but in one of the few times I disagree with him I think it’s wasted words on people full of hate, bile, and blind cult worship.

This is not a great opportunity for the libertarian movement either.  It’s probably the optimistic minarchist in me, but the combination of a return to more banal, functional evil and a LOT of newly energized people from the Jorgensen campaign ready to run for city council in 2021 is a powerful one.  Massive chaos at the top and an almost inevitable crackdown won’t help advance our cause.

The argument that if the protestors had been black or brown they would have gotten their asses kicked by police rather than allowed to waltz in almost entirely unopposed has a lot of merit.

The whataboutism being drawn by some people over the Black Lives Matter riots this summer is false equivalency.  Black Lives Matter had and has a completely legitimate and gigantic gripe, namely that the state really shouldn’t be murdering people, especially those that aren’t pale skinned.  While I do wish that more of the rage had been directed specifically at the state rather than everywhere, as much as I can I understand that level of frustration, anger, and desperation.  It’s palpable, and real, and justified.  How you can listen to this, for example, and not be moved to tears or blind fury (or both) is beyond me.  The Trumpians’ gripe, on the other hand, is complete bullshit.  Every allegation of fraud was either shut down, often by Republican election officials in states Trump lost, or defeated soundly in over 50 lawsuits, often in front of Republican appointed judges.  And as Legal Eagle pointed out, the gap between what Trump’s legal team said in public vs. what they actually said under oath was staggering.  Black Lives Matter went to war for an ugly truth.  Trump’s cult went to war for a lie.  And contra Slim Charles, fighting on a lie only destroys.  There are serious systemic problems with how we do presidential elections, including precinct consolidation, gerrymandering, the Commission On Presidential Debates, and stuff like I covered here.  But under the rules as they stand Biden won fair and square.  Trumpers need to suck it up and deal, and run a better candidate next time.

The LP’s public statement on the matter, contra the Mises Caucus, were right.  The why, the how, and the who matters.  There are scenarios I can envision where a group would have charged the seat of power like that and I’d cheer.  But again, a bunch of racist wackadoos whining about their cult leader not winning over the other cult leader?  Nothing righteous about it.  And unless you’re really prepared for civil war, with all of the blood and pain that would result AND the highly uncertain outcome, maybe it might be a good idea to let a combination of political reform, growing our movement, and building competing institutions like alternate currencies, direct primary care providers, private education do its thing.

My opinion of the federal government and most of its actions ranges somewhere between my opinion of syphilis and AIDS.  It remains a horrid, murderous, thieving monster that should be opposed whenever possible.  But one of the few things it does well is relatively fair and open elections, with plenty of systemic problems but almost no retail level fraud.  And yes, democracy has its own problems, but those elections still represent a real avenue for potential change and societal improvement.  They shouldn’t be left to the violent whims of easily deluded racists begging for a new king.

The results are in.  The campaign of Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen…did not meet expectations.  We didn’t win, we didn’t get 5%, we didn’t crack into the debates, and it looks like Biden is the major party asshole that one.  We had some infighting over charges of pandering, or of people claiming they were too scared of one major party candidate over the other, or that Spike wasn’t a serious candidate, or that the campaign was poorly run, or that Jo was a bad interviewee.  It’s a lot of disappointment, and some of those charges have some merit.

However, is that really all there is to the story?  Was there no good news for liberty on election night, or in the campaign that preceded it?  There, dear reader, I must strongly disagree.

Note:  I will only briefly address the major party charges of “you should have run sooner” (she was the first candidate to be nominated, and if the LP nominates any earlier they run into legal issues in some states), “you’re a secret plant for Trump/Biden!” (bullshit, and your candidates were terrible anyway), and “you should have run as a Republican!” (ew, the Republican party hasn’t even paid us lip service in a decade, let alone ever actually being a home for Libertarian ideas, and it’s now an authoritarian cesspool completely overrun by racists, nativists, and protectionists).  All of these objections are generally dumb or ignorant.

Let’s start with the negative.  A few of the charges fall apart quickly.  First, the charge of pandering is complete bullshit, as I’ve discussed at length.  And Spike not being a serious candidate?  Sure, his primary campaign was a parody campaign in the spirit of Vermin Supreme, and that’s fine.  But he got deadly serious as soon as he had the nomination, as this interview and this speech (and pretty much any other public appearance he made) will attest.  Jo not being a good interviewee I think is pretty subjective.  For my tastes she definitely was not nearly as firery as Cohen, and she did feel like she was perpetually campaigning in 2000, not 2020.  She came off as someone wasn’t so much angry as disappointed in Ronald Reagan.  On the other hand she was a clear communicator of our ideas, she never compromised the message (see “pandering”, above), she was consistent in every interview she gave, and she definitely got a lot better as the season went on.

The other charges that have been presented do have something to them.  I’ve heard some rumblings that the campaigns did not get along with each other, and the Jorgensen campaign especially was reluctant to integrate the infrastructure of the Vermin Supreme/Spike Cohen campaign and the Hornberger campaign into their own.  I’d welcome clarification from anyone with more information on that.  Certainly anecdotally Jorgensen merch was either not available or very shipping delayed until July or so, which is somewhat damning given that the nomination was secured on May 23 and several candidates ran (for us anyway) strong primary campaigns.

There’s questions of budget and strategy as well, especially concerning TV and social media advertising.  Looking at her campaign’s list of expenditures, the biggest expense by far is to Skyline Media.  What I don’t know, however (and would love to be illuminated on) is whether that covers ad production, ad purchasing, or both.  One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard is that there was almost no social media advertising, let alone tv or radio buys, in favor of retail campaigning and the bus tour.  I can’t tell from the expense report how true or not that is, but it seems to have some merit to it.

There’s also some lingering questions as to why she didn’t do the minor party debates, although from what I understand CPD rules ban you from their debates if you do someone else’s.  It’s lame.

And then there’s the down ballot races.  I really thought Donald Rainwater and Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr. were going to win, or at least put up a lot better numbers than they did. 

That’s the negative.  What about the positive?

First, the vote total.  Sure, 1.2%, which is crap, but 1.8 million votes and the LP’s second best finish ever.  We had an incredible dollar to vote ratio.  We achieved ballot access in all 50 states for the second cycle in a row, despite the usual onerous garbage and even despite the pandemic.  We beat back lawsuits to kick our candidates off the ballot.  That’s nothing to sneeze at, because all of those people that signed are potential talent for the next go around.  Our propaganda game got GOOD.  Next, Jorgensen and Cohen campaigned for down ballot LP candidates like no other presidential ticket I’ve ever seen, and my history goes back to the Harry Browne days.  Cohen’s social media was a daily barrage of endorsements for Congress, state assemblies, county commissioners, tax assessors, and more.   There were regular mailers from the Jorgensen campaign about other candidates.  At campaign stops they were regularly greeted (and gave speech time to) local LP affiliate volunteers and elected officials.  They made perhaps our first concerted effort to have coattails, and to get the other candidates on them.  We won a state house seat in Wyoming, as well as several local races.  And while probably negligible in how much impact the LP had in the races, there were pro-liberty victories across the country.  In California felons will automatically regain the right to vote, and our disastrous AB5, which basically eliminated independent contractors, has been dealt a huge blow thanks to Prop 22.  Gambling was legalized in Nebraska.  And most notably, the war on drugs got kicked in the teeth at the ballot box, with every marijuana legalization proposition passing, Washington, DC legalizing (almost) psychadelics, and Oregon decriminalizing everything. 

Next, lets look at the positives of the candidate choice and the candidates themselves.  The LP finally had a very strong field of presidential contenders this year, with even our satire candidate (Vermin Supreme) and our carpetbagger (Justin Amash) being pretty good.  Very importantly, Jorgensen and Cohen were both homegrown talent, not Republican carpetbaggers.  We had three cycles in a row of carpetbaggers, with Gary Johnson being a nice guy and certainly libertarian adjacent, but not fully bought in to our ideas.  He was the best of the bunch though; Bill Weld and Bob Barr were absolute disasters and had no place in the LP.  This time we fielded our own candidates and the results were much better, because the buyin from the candidates was much better.  Jorgensen and Cohen both campaigned their asses off.  They both hit 48 states on the campaign trail, along with countless appearances on local media and podcasts.  They reached out to groups where libertarians had never even existed, let alone had a positive reaction, such as Black Lives Matter groups and Native American groups, in addition to more traditional constituencies for us like tax protests and gun rights groups, all without ever compromising the message or saying anything that wasn’t libertarian.

Which brings me to the biggest takeaway of the election-what Jorgensen and Cohen inspired.  Johnson voters were “meh”.  Bob Barr voters were desperate.  Jorgensen voters though?  They’re passionate in a way I haven’t seen, maybe ever in the LP or the broader movement.  They believe in Jo, they believe in Spike, and they believe in the message.  And they’re a greater diversity of people than I’ve ever seen in the movement.  When I started out it was seven old white guys, me, and one of the old white guys’ old white wife.  Wonderful people all, to be sure, but not exactly the basis of a mass movement.  When I see the all the “I wasted my vote” posts on Jorgensen groups, or when I went to Jorgensen and Cohen events, it’s an amazing mix of young, old, first time voters, party diehards, white, black, latin, asian, straight, bi, trans, all genders and the whole spectrum of America.  And they all want better for the world. 

They said (depending on how embellished the story is) of both the Velvet Underground and Husker Du that they didn’t sell many records, but everyone who bought one of their records started a band.  Jo Jorgensen voters have the exact same energy.  They are the ones that are going to be the next wave of libertarian thinkers, activists, candidates, and office holders.  They are going to be the ones that change the world.

To summarize:  there are real lessons for next time around.  Whoever the nominees are, the campaigns need to work with each other and everyone in the primary should have a good plan to pass off their infrastructure to whoever the nominees are.  The ground game needs to better.  Candidates for the highest office need to be prepared to campaign as their full time job during the duration of the campaign season.  Figuring out the CPD mess earlier is important.  There are real questions about where money should be spent to have the most impact.  But having real, homegrown talent rather than a carpetbagger was far and away the right thing to do.  So was reaching out to everyone that would hear us, including groups traditionally considered outside of the libertarian orbit.  Taking a vocal, principled stand on the state murdering people not only was the right thing to do, it brought our message to new places and new people.  And whoever did the Jorgensen ads this year needs to be rehired by every Libertarian campaign in the future.

There is light in the darkness.

Next:  how to keep going and do better.  Spoiler alert:  it’s not about 2024, or 2022.  It’s about 2021.


Let’s talk about voter suppression.

No, not voter fraud.  While good ol’ fashioned ballot stuffing still does happen from time to time, it’s so rare as to be statistically insignificant.  And not the kind of voter suppression that happens by moving or reducing polling places, cutting hours, and so on,  although those are awful too and important to fix.

No, I’m talking about the willful suppression of third party candidates.  And it is a real and ugly thing this year.  I hear constantly about how Jo Jorgensen (or Howie Hawkins) “can’t win”, or how they’re too extreme, or not real candidates, or any number of other cliched major party bullshit.  Well…if they’re not real candidates, or just a protest vote, or secretly a vote for the other major party piece of crap, why are the majors trying so hard to rig the game anyway?  First, you have the lawsuits.  It started in Montana, continued into Ohio, and reached perhaps its most egregious apex in Texas, where the state Republican party tried to kick 44 candidates off the ballot and the Democrats pursued a similar challenge against the Greens. 

And before anyone gripes that they didn’t pay filing fees, I would say that they’re a poll tax on third parties.  Oh, and the majors don’t have to play by their own rules either. 

Second, you have Commission On Presidential Debates, and how they determine eligibility for inclusion in what’s arguably still the most visible part of the campaign, the presidential debates.  You may have seen the article going around about how third party support is down this year.  But aside from the fact that article didn’t even mention Jorgensen or Stein, the polls used for determining eligibility aren’t even mentioning everyone on the ballot!  Look at this graphic compiled by @TrackerDebate.  All five of the polls being used to determine debate eligibility only mention half the candidates.

So tell me, major parties:  what are you afraid of?  Ideas?  People that can form complete sentences?  Simple loss of power? 

If you care about real representation in your democracy, and about hearing new ideas beyond just the statist quo, I urge you to contact the Commission On Presidential Debates at (202) 872-1020, emailing them at and tweeting them @DebatesIntl.  Call and email the venues too-

  • Representative for the Vice Presidential Debates at the University of Utah at (801) 581-6261, as well as the university directly at (801) 581-7200, and the ticket office at (801) 581-7100.  Email them at or the
  • Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah: or call at (801) 581-8501.
  • Utah Debate Commission:  (801) 919-6004 or
  • Case Western Reserve University Media Relations Department at (216) 368-4207, direct line (216) 368-2000,
  • Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts:  (305) 949-6722.
  • Belmont University:   (615) 460-6000,

And while you’re at it, check out the #BudBoycott.

The duopoly is a cancer on our society.  #letherspeak



The following articles and posts not linked above were invaluable in putting this article together-