by Cinzia Croce
After the crushing defeat of her candidate Ted Cruz in Indiana, Mary Matalin discovered liberty, tore up her Republican membership card and registered as a Libertarian. Despite the timing of her decision, Matalin insisted that it had nothing to do with Donald Trump becoming the presumptive nominee of her former political party and left the door open for a possible return by describing herself as a “provisional Trumper”. She may have discovered liberty, but not enough liberty to abandon the GOP forever.
As a newly-minted warrior for libertarian values, Matalin published an impassioned editorial in the National Review – the tip of the spear of the #NeverTrump movement – endorsing Austin Petersen. She wrote:
“But why support Petersen over, say, Gary Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian party nominee? Because Austin Petersen represents the best opportunity for a principle-based victory this November. Inasmuch as Petersen is a consistent advocate for constitutional government, the free-market economics of Friedman and Hayek, reverence for the dignity of universal human liberty (which necessarily includes unborn Americans), and a classical liberal understanding of the pursuit of happiness — not to mention his next-generation promise — he hits the political sweet spot for millions of fed-up Americans. “
In other words, the same coalition of libertarians and social conservatives that failed to deliver the GOP nomination to Ted Cruz will somehow move the Libertarian Party from the fringes of American politics to the main stage.
Whether or not Cruz supporters want to admit it, Ted’s quest for the White House was over on March 1st, when he failed to carry states like Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas – and , earlier, South Carolina. Cruz needed to sweep the South and reach the top of the leader board early in the primary process as Hillary Clinton did on the Democratic side. Instead, he was reduced to winning his home state of Texas, its neighbor Oklahoma, and far away Alaska — and then having to try to catch up with Trump in much less friendly territory. Cruz fought on, chasing the mirage of a contested convention, but the die was cast — and his loss cannot be blamed on a lack of financial resources. By all accounts, he had the most extensive ground game and the most dedicated volunteers, willing to leave their homes for months, not to mention the data analytics team that so impressed the media (but not the voters). Cruz lost because a libertarian/social conservative coalition is not a recipe for electoral success – if it were, the Constitution Party would be more than a political curiosity.
Matalin was a political operative and part of the GOP establishment for decades. She knows that Petersen would fare no better than Cruz using the same approach. But the objective is not to turn the Libertarian Party into a viable political party; the objective is to use the Libertarian Party to poach enough Republican learning voters away from Trump to cause him to lose the election. Afterwards, the GOP establishment will be roaring back, deliver a big “toldja so” to the grassroots and regain control of the party. Unfortunately for Matalin and the #NeverTrumpers, Petersen lost the Libertarian nomination handily to Gary Johnson. A pro-choice, pro-same sex marriage, pro-drug legalization ticket will be heading the Libertarian Party, which is more likely to poach votes from Hillary than Trump. Both Johnson and his vice presidential pick William Weld at every opportunity railed more against Trump and Republicans than against Hillary and the Democrats. In particular, Johnson vigorously attacked Trump’s plan to deport millions of illegal immigrants and his temporary ban on Muslim immigration. A Johnson-Weld ticket will attract younger voters, especially Latino voters, the very voters Hillary is struggling to win and needs to win in November. Poor #NeverTrumpers. They just can’t catch a break.