John McAfee has been a great proponent of liberty. His definition of libertarianism builds on the best definition I have heard for libertarianism, Renea McMasters’s definition, “Don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff.” [Although, for the life of me I cannot find the article where he said it.] His running mate, Judd Weiss, created some of the best media for his campaign that the liberty movement has ever put out.
However, what concerned me was his persona and how he seemed to feed the media’s perception of him instead of fight against it. Was this strategy effective at all? Was it crucial to his campaign? Did it help the Libertarian Party and the liberty movement?
To attempt to answer this question, I looked at the Google Trends of McAfee, Johnson, Petersen, libertarianism, and the Libertarian Party. It appears that after John McAfee switched to the Libertarian Party in December, searches for Libertarianism and Libertarian Party began to increase slightly. Also, Gary Johnson had announced in January that he was running as well. Of course, this is also coupled with the fact that Rand Paul had dropped out of the Republican Primary as well.
But what is rather interesting is February where searches for McAfee spiked. What happened in February to cause this spike. I did a search, and I found that John McAfee’s TV comments about the San Bernardino phone happened in February. This is when John McAfee said, “Google cyber security legend.” It appears there may be a bit of a “cyber security legend” bump.
While the amount of searches for Cyber Security Legend were relatively low even compared with that of Austin Petersen and Darryl Perry, it appears even Austin Petersen and Darryl Perry may have benefited slightly from the cyber security legend bump.
We cannot say for certain if McAfee’s “Google cyber security legend” statements caused an increase in searches for libertarianism or if it is mere coincidence. One thing is for sure, McAfee knows how to get the media’s attention. McAfee has a sense of humor about himself that many find refreshing. Hopefully, he will be able to leverage his press relations skills and encourage people to #votedifferent in the future.
Regardless, without McAfee in the race, there likely would not be a Coders for Liberty. Coders for Liberty started as Coders for McAfee. The idea initially formed out of a desire to promote coding at a Libertarian debate watch party. It was decided that after the campaign, Coders for McAfee should continue on as Coders for Liberty. However, due to the fact that Gary Johnson was likely to be the nominee and that Coders for McAfee had not gained much traction, I decided to make it into Coders for Liberty before the convention. Even though McAfee did not win the nomination, he did succeed in reigniting the spirit of liberty.