Austin Petersen put up one hell of a fight against Gary Johnson during election season for potentially earning the nod as Libertarian Presidential Candidate. Austin was often described as young, brash, bold, and furthermore, during campaign season for the nomination, Austin pressed Gary Johnson every step of the way. Despite the fact that Austin did not walk away as the Libertarian nominee, the fact was he was effective in his debate. The Libertarian party votes in their nominee based on a threshold, and the first round of voting Gary Johnson failed to secure it. Austin Petersen effectively played a key in making Johnson have to fight to win the nomination.
Austin also left an impression in many people. As things were heating up, talk radio and podcasters were bringing in the third party as large portions of listeners were seemingly showing frustration with the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee (now President) Donald Trump. I was one of the many who were incredibly puzzled, annoyed and genuinely frustrated at politics on the Federal level and was certain I was not going to cast a vote for either of the main party candidates.
So Austin starting making appearances, several of which came through The Blaze affiliates, Glenn Beck’s media network. That included Austin on The Glenn Beck Program, as well, exposing him to a wider audience than most Libertarian individuals are used to. John Stossel gave an entire two episode block to hosting the first televised Libertarian debate, featuring Gary Johnson, John McAfee, and Austin. More audience reach, more exposure.
Despite not winning the LP nomination, Austin Petersen did not merely fade away or disappear. He went to work. Austin maintained open lines of contact with his followers, even so far as personally calling them (Yes, Austin maintained a policy of “Send me your number and I will personally talk with you). He says that is exactly what helped him determine what his next political steps would be, what ultimately solidified his decision to run for Senate under the banner of the GOP.
Now, Libertarians are kind of torn on the matter. The Libertarian Party did experience a significant growth over the course of the 2016 Election cycle, with Gary Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld capturing well over 4 million votes and 3.28% of the vote overall. It may seem insignificant, but compared to Johnson’s 2012 campaign when they only scooped up a million votes and just shy of 1% overall, well…that is a staggering difference. Fundraising and money was another big boost the Libertarian Party saw, and to boot, they took no debt.
Why leave now, AP!? Simple, in an statement that was shared by libertarian Reason.com, Austin states
For the last eight weeks, I’ve spent six hours a day calling my supporters to ask them their thoughts on how I might best advance liberty. I took the time to listen to every single persons’ opinion about a potential opportunity to seek a seat in the U.S. Senate here in my home state of Missouri.
Of the thousands of people I spoke to, all encouraged a run, hundreds donated, and the vast majority offered their opinion regarding which party I should align with. Over 98% of them, including registered Libertarians, independents, Republicans, and even Democrats, said to run GOP.
Sadly, I must depart for now. I go with no ill will, and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Just as I witnessed many in the Libertarian Party pick apart Gary Johnson’s campaign for President and more specifically William Weld, I am seeing some of the same things come out as Austin Petersen steps away. Some are still supporting Austin, seeing it as an opportunity for a liberty-minded individual to potentially work his way into the Senate and join a growing body of names like Rand Paul, Mike Lee, who while not Libertarians often catch support for erring on the side of liberty.
Some individuals feel as though Austin is taking the wrong route, thinking that the idea of taking Libertarian ideals and principles to the Republican Party to try to veer it onto a better course is an idea that while noble, simply won’t work as the current state of the Republican party is to preach about small government and liberty yet surprisingly back policies that are contrary to that sentiment.
For someone like me, I have never towed a party line, outside of the Libertarian Line, and even then, I am weary to play a game of party appreciation. For example, just because somebody is a Libertarian does not mean they automatically win my vote. I always put principle over party. I have had disagreements with Libertarians, the same as I have had disagreements with Progressives and Democrats, the same as I have had disagreements with Republicans and Conservatives.
In the case of Austin Petersen, I think he did right by his supporters. At the end of the day, I do not believe he hack, a sell-out, or disingenuous. I feel he is an ardent patriot waving the banner of freedom and liberty. And I support that over anything else.