He may or may not run as an independent or third party candidate in the general election. If he does so without having enough progressives on board to put him in first place going into the Tampa Bay convention, he is less likely to get very many progressives on board for the general election. His libertarian causes will have some exposure but this will not result in any substantial legislative action.
This sad consequence for libertarians is mirrored by potentially worse consequences for progressives. If president Obama is re-elected, we probably will see a switch in policy already underway from counter-insurgency to counter-terrorism which will mean more drone strikes causing more "collateral damage" and fostering future blow back. We will see some very minor reductions in military spending motivated mostly by the need to placate progressives as more damaging cuts afflict domestic programs. Most international bases will remain open and a few new ones will emerge. An increasing number of bases will be staffed by mercenaries, many of them non-Americans and all of them paid for by the American tax payer.
Additionally, we will see a continued game of chicken over the Bush tax cuts, probably delaying any changes until 2014 and yielding to lowering or freezing marginal rates while closing tax loopholes. This of course will only mean that new loopholes will emerge and there will be no absolute cap on the total value of loopholes. Furthermore, this translates into less real progressivity in the tax system.
Banks will probably take a few token hits with John Huntsman's idea of a cap on the size of banks encouraged by higher tax rates on those that exceed the cap and the funds collected going to further tax reductions for giant corporations. This game of economic musical chairs will be marketed to us as a get tough with bankers program.
There will be nominal increases in EPA fines and a notable but not gigantic increases in green technologies, most of which will be imported from China. The oil sands pipeline will be approved, and it will be the administration's largest jobs stimulus project; however, significant increases in those jobs will not be online until the end of Obama's second term with a great deal more being created at the beginning of the next administration, which of course will get the credit for these new jobs.
The patriot Act will remain unchanged . Civil liberties will be violated but we will not hear much about it, and the victims themselves will go largely unharmed in any visible way. A dozen or two more Americans will be killed in drone attacks, about half being the actual targets of these attacks. Gitmo will be closed and reopened somewhere else. Fidel will die and Raul will invite American corporations in and the embargo will at last be removed.
A handful of major natural disasters will result in some infrastructure improvements. We will be hearing about a 5G network coming out in 2016. The president will give some more populist speeches and many of them will be hailed as the signal that real change has begun. Democrats will go to their caucuses and polls. The race will boil down to Biden, Clinton and one other somewhat fresh face. Clinton will be nominated and lose a very close election in November, 2016. Feingold or Kucinich are likely to be in the mix somewhere and Bernie Sanders might even join the party; one of them might finish in third place. We will try again in 2020.
If Romney/Gingrich or Santorum wins, look for more excuses to increase the military budget and a real and substantial jobs program coming out of it thanks to the neo-con/blue dog coalition. Look for oil prices to drop as congress decides to open Alaska up for more exploration. Look for oil prices to climb again as we get involved in another middle east war. Look for gas prices to fall below $3 gallon in October 2014 and to climb back to a plateau somewhere between 3.50 and 4 by July 4 2015. Look for unemployment to go below 7 percent and maybe close to 6 percent in September 2016 thanks to a newly revived military industrial complex. (Look for that group to do well under Obama II but unemployment to remain above 7 percent when he leaves office in January of 2017.)
Obamacare will not be overturned but more flexibility will be granted to the states to do as they please in trying to increase the number of people on private insurance plans. We will have some loopholes closed and a top rate of 30%. Huntsman's idea will be adopted by his fellow Mormon. Huntsman will also be the Secretary of State and so will be very quiet about taking any credit. Toxic assets will be cleaned up and a new round of slicing, dicing, splicing and betting both directions will heat up as the housing market begins to recover. The Dow will flirt with 20K toward the end of October, 2016.
Romney and his nut job VP will be re-elected in a landslide in 2016 because libertarians and cultural conservatives will refuse to join a coalition candidacy to nominate Marcy Kaptur in the Democratic presidential primary and because Romney 's 4 years looks better than Obama's 4 years. We might even have 100K troops on the ground in Iran and a green zone in Tehran. (Tip: Invest in Chinese made American flags.)
This is a gloomy picture for both libertarians and progressives. Libertarians will fade into the background again as corporatism begins to deliver on some of the economic promises of libertarianism, more so of course under Romney I than Obama II. Progressives will take solace in a gay friendlier world and have high hopes on Chelsea breaking the glass ceiling her mother barely missed. Abortion rights will fade a tad but will be fully regained in a deal made with Romney during the tax reform negotiations. This photo op will be slightly overshadowed by the appointment of the first openly gay 2 star general serving somewhere in the middle east.
What a day of rejoicing that will be! Not!