Election 2016: Can John McAfee Change The Game?

Editorial

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By Thomas L. Knapp

The 2016 presidential election cycle got a lot more interesting on September 8 when John McAfee announced his candidacy under the banner of a newly formed “Cyber Party.”

McAfee, whose eponymous computer security software made him a multi-millionaire, sports a long record of public eccentricity that I need not waste words on here — you can look up if you’re interested. What’s important about his eccentricity is that where it touches on politics, he generally supports two important values: Freedom and privacy.

I’m definitely down with those twin emphases, and so far McAfee seems like the only bright light in a pretty dark and dismal presidential field. If the election was held today, he’d have my vote from among the declared candidates. But the election is 14 months away, and I have a few suggestions to offer McAfee for making the most of those months.
First, I hope he’ll forget his plans for a new political party. If he’s serious about freedom and privacy (and I believe he is), there’s already a party ready-made for his candidacy: The Libertarian Party.

Libertarians substantially agree with McAfee on the issues he cares about.

The Libertarian Party has a long record of securing ballot access for its candidates in all, or nearly all, of the 50 states. That alone would save McAfee millions in campaign costs versus establishing a new party (I speak from experience — in 2006 I founded a new political party; that party was only able to get on the 2008 presidential ballot in four states).

Additionally, the Libertarian Party will run hundreds, if not thousands, of down-ticket candidates in 2016 — candidates who also substantially agree with McAfee on the core issues. He doesn’t need to create a new movement. There’s a movement already in place and awaiting his leadership.

Beyond affiliating with the Libertarian Party instead of going it alone, I hope McAfee will identify freedom as the core issue and clearly mark out privacy as an emergent property of that issue, not a separate issue per se.

A well-known, reasonably well-financed Libertarian candidate who takes the US government to task for its depredations — in particular warrantless searches and wiretaps, wholesale eavesdropping on telecommunications, and imprisonment or exile of heroic whistleblowers who expose government abuses (Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, to name two) — could tear this presidential race wide open. And that’s something we desperately need.

mcafee

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Thomas Knapp

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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