I spent 40 years in the corroded rectum of the two party system. I was the guy the Republican party turned to when things got tough. I saw first hand how the two major parties worked together to limit voter choices and exclude minor party candidates from the election dialogue. 

I helped kill the Reform Party by ending their access to federal funding in 2000. I watched the mass media’s total lack of interest in covering the policy pronouncements or campaigns of anyone other than Republicans or Democrats. 

I remember well how the Clinton and Dole campaigns has worked together to block Ross Perot from the 1996 debates by changing the rules of the Commission on Presidential debates to exclude the diminutive Texas billionaire. 

I recognized the extent to which the two parties control ballot access, Republicans and Democrats having written the laws governing who get’s on the ballot and how. I also recognized how the Commission on Presidential Debates is a wholly owned subsidiary of the two major parties who have no interest in letting a candidate who offers an alternative to the two parties any exposure that might win them votes. 

I also recognized the extent to which both major parties had morphed into one big government party, both supporting expensive foreign interventionism, continued deficit spending, the continued erosion of our civil liberties through the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, the failed federal war on drugs and the defense of a loop-hole ridden tax system that discouraged growth and is largely confiscatory. 

As for my beloved Republican Party, I recognized how their misguided policies on immigration would leave us a “white man’s party” unable to win votes other than those of white voters (which everyone seems to have figured out since election day). 

Well aware of the odds against success, I decided to change my registration to the Libertarian Party. The Libertarians had the most compelling and qualified candidate in their history; former two term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson who had governed his state with libertarian principles, cut spending and regulation and boosted his state to being #1 in job creation according to a study by the National Review. Johnson is credible, articulate, affable and hard working. 

Most importantly he was an open borders man who, unlike the GOP candidate was not subject to the fatal flaw of the GOP. He was an articulate critic of “building a wall ” as a solution to our immigration policies. 

As his running mate Johnson chose former California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, probably the most articulate critic of the Federal war on drugs in the country today. Gray proved to be a dogged and effective campaigner. 

I was well aware of the difficulty of getting Johnson and Gray on the ballot and the 51 state laws governing ballot access written by Republicans and Democrats, administered by election officials who are Republicans and Democrats and overseen by judges who are Republicans and Democrats. In Michigan, one of only two states where Johnson met the criteria for ballot access, the Republican Attorney general was both the Romney campaign state Chairman and appeared in court to block the Libertarian Party from being on the Michigan ballot. 

Ross Perot navigated this in 1992 but it cost $10 million. Donald Trump looked at it last year and decided it would take $10 million even with his high name ID. Besides Trump already had a nicer plane and a nicer house. 

Johnson and the Libertarian Party would ultimately win a place on 48 state ballots. When Oklahoma Libertarians failed to secure enough signatures and lost a bid to win ballot access in court, Johnson campaign Senior Advisor Ron Nielson convinced the Oklahoma chapter of America Elect, who had collected 75,000 signatures, to designated Governor Johnson as their candidate only to have the State’s highest court void the ballot position in total violation of state law. Indeed, Oklahoma has allowed no minor party candidate a place on the ballot since 1972. 

Becoming well known in America is much tougher than you think . Johnson was inexplicably blocked from the GOP debates-perhaps because the narrative of a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage equality, pro-marijuana Republican didn’t fit the script. He began the race with little public awareness. 

Poll after Poll should voters unhappy with both parties and open to another choice. The same poll showed majority support for Johnson’s issue positions, particularly ending the war in Afghanistan, an end to deficit spending and an immediate balanced budget and the legalization of marijuana. 

Despite his strenuous campaigning and a fair amount of regional media coverage, 75% of voters were unaware of Johnson’s candidacy on Election Day. The Mainstream media largely ignored Johnson’s candidacy. 

There were only two answers to Johnson’s political dilemma. His campaign had to gain admission to the debates or raise the $10 million needed for network TV advertising. Campaign fundraising was sluggish, hampered by Ron Paul staying in the GOP race after it was clear Romney had a lock on the Republican nomination. Johnson would raise $2.5 million for the general election, not enough for network television. 

Johnson filed two federal lawsuits to gain admission to the debates- both on grounds not previously attempted by Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan, earlier third party candidates. The first suit, an anti-trust action filed in California was dismissed by a Republican Judge first appointed to the bench by Gov. Pete Wilson and elevated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush. There is no evidence the Judge even read the pleadings. The second action remains pending and may allow a Libertarian candidate to participate in the televised debates in 2016. 

In the end Johnson garnered 1.2 million votes, almost twice what the Bob Barr/Wayne Allyn Root ticket pulled in 2008, but fell far short of the 5 % needed to secure the federal funding which would solve the problems the party faced in 2012. 

“Money is the mother’s milk of politics” said California’s legendary Assembly Speaker Jess Unruh. In the end, Gov. Gary Johnson never had the money or debate podium to gain the public attention necessary to sell his already palatable issue positions and candidacy-and that is a shame. Now I know how Teddy Roosevelt felt when he became a Bull Moose. 

I talked to FOX about the difficulty of mounting a third party candidacy: