by Patrick Appel

Bernstein weighs in on the Friedersdorf-Ambinder exchange:

The point is that Gary Johnson isn't a hopeless case because he's not good on TV; he's a hopeless case because his issue positions make him unacceptable to the most important groups within the Republican Party, and he doesn't bring anything to compensate for that.  Which no doubt stinks if you want a different GOP than the one that actually exists in 2010.  Now, it may be that Johnson can mobilize new groups to enter the Republican Party and start to change it...that sort of thing happens to American political parties all the time, in presidential and lower-level nomination battles.  But as of now, I'd say that the nomination process does a fairly good job of allowing parties to work together to nominate candidates who are responsive to who those parties are, and the problems that Johnson faces have to do with substance, not process.

This is true, but in order to become a standard-bearer for a cause it can be wise to advocate for a position before it is politically popular. I'm not a Ron Paul supporter, but his 2008 boomlet required a long bout of virtual invisibility. Paul preached the same sermon for decades and it only struck a nerve in 2008. His base of support wasn't large enough for him to win the nomination, but he proved a more viable candidate than almost anyone projected.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.