(With apologies to anything Gandhi may or may not have said.)
First they ignore you: no polls, no media coverage, not even any hit pieces. They hope you will die and go away.
Then they attack the ideology as "fringe," or "populist," or "peculiar," or "naive," or even "racist," or "dangerous."
They do this first because attacking the message does not require them to build up the name recognition of the messenger.
Next, they's attack the candidate or the spokesperson--for anything from speaking style to personal quirks.
Finally, if that all fails, they will attack the followers of the movement as hicks, thugs, elitists, racists, reactionaries--whatever can be made to stick.
Usually, if you survive all that, you're getting close to breaking through.
So these are the for steps: ignore, attack the ideology, attack the leader, attack the followers.
Ron Paul has moved through all four steps, and ironically, it is necessary to move through all these steps because that is the only way to become nationally known outside the confines of the two parties.
Gary Johnson is now moving from step one (ignoring him) to step two (attacking the ideology).
Offered, as Rod Serling used to say, for your amusement, a small helpful of recent attacks on libertarianism:
Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times attacks libertarians as willing to sell virtually anything, even if doing so compromises honor, morals, and culture. My favorite line, however, is his major Freudian slip about how our society does have certain limits on these barbarous practices [emphasis added]:
We do, of course, place some boundaries on markets. I can’t buy the right to cut off your leg for my amusement. Americans can sell blood, but (perhaps mistakenly) we don’t allowmarkets for kidneys and other organs, even though that would probably save lives.You would think he might have edited that last sentence out (I know I would have, had I been writing the piece).
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune argues that libertarianism is a kind of ideological fantasy that is only popular when Republicans are out of power, because the idea of limited government plainly does not work. My favorite line from this diatribe is
Libertarians seem to ignore the difference between campaigning and governing.That line is really interesting (and should be a signal for everyone involved in the Gary Johnson campaign) because in 2012 it is the Libertarians who are actually running the presidential candidate with the most experience governing, and the most success at governing. Gary Johnson has more executive experience than Barack Obama and Mitt Romney combined. And to make their point about Libertarians not wanting to govern, they will eventually move to attack his record.
HuffPost has up a race-baiting piece, "Why are there so few Latino Libertarians?" that does everything except call Libertarians elitist racists. Wait a minute--strike that--the post does effectively call Libertarians elitist racists:
Libertarianism is still overwhelmingly the privilege of white men, who have a cultural advantage over other groups, regardless of what economic class they were born into. As such, they may believe they have achieved success solely through their own initiative. They may be blind to all the help they received, especially if their consciences are clear and they never discriminate against other ethnicities. They are certain they can do anything they set their minds to, because quite frankly, they often have done so (with society's help, of course).This is just the beginning.
But it is a hopeful beginning, because it means that in the bowels of the MSM, and in the war rooms of the Democratic and Republican campaigns they are feeling the first twinges in their guts. Gary Johnson might make the race unpredictable: he could throw North Carolina to Romney, Wisconsin to Obama, and even (perish the thought) conduct a successful "favorite son" campaign in New Mexico.
So they are going to have to try to marginalize him, and they'll try to do that by taking control of his message away from us.
It is both an opportunity and a threat.
If we can survive this, it's truly game on, and we're in the big time.