If you're like most Americans, you're probably really frustrated with your choices in the upcoming election. Both major parties have nominated candidates that are extremely unpopular with the general public. Ask any Clinton voter the main reason they are voting for Clinton and you are likely to hear "we have to stop Trump". Ask any Trump voter why they are casting their ballot for Trump and you will probably be told "to keep Hillary from getting to the White House". Never has the "lesser of two evils" rationale for voting been so popular.
But wait! There is a third choice! You can still vote for sanity. That is, if you buy what the Libertarian Party ticket is selling. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are running on a message that they are the rational choice in an irrational election year. That's a pretty compelling message when faced with the prospect of the two major party candidates, but it might not be so true.
It's hard to believe that a vote for the LP ticket is a vote for sanity when they can't keep their message straight. The LP ticket is determined to court disenfranchised voters from both sides, so much so that it successfully alienated both sides in the span of 60 seconds in a recent interview with Resason. When asked about the Supreme Court, our "sane choice" had a conflicting message:
"JOHNSON: Really, there are going to be no litmus test. You're going to appoint good people, and you're going appoint people that look at the Constitution of original intent.
WELD: Well, I don't think you have to panic and say it has to be a way lefty or way righty. Steve Breyer has been a good justice. He was appointed by Democrats."
Johnson says he would "appoint people that look at the Constitution of original intent". This brings to mind justices like the late Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas. These are unlikely to be popular choices with those on the left. Weld says "Steve Breyer has been a good justice", a statement not likely to go over well with conservatives.
It's easy to understand what Johnson and Weld are trying to accomplish here, but it's poor strategy. By taking conflicting stances, you are unlikely to get the enthusiasm of either crowd you're trying to court. It is even more worrisome for people on the right looking for a ticket they can get behind. After all, the last time I checked this is still the Libertarian Party, and the ticket has two former Republican governors. Johnson might be able to pluck a few disenfranchised liberals, but his main target market is still going to be conservatives and libertarians. Convincing those people to drop support for the major party and move it to a third party is less compelling when you're praising a justice with a very liberal record.
Gary Johnson needs to get his message straight. He has already alienated his most likely voting bloc once when he refused to stand for freedom of association. Uncertainty about who could be nominated to the court is unlikely to help calm any fears.