It might seem somewhat inconsistent considering my recent criticism of the guy, but due to the nearness and importance of the Libertarian Party convention, I feel I should go ahead and state that I hope the delegates choose Austin Petersen, not Gov. Gary Johnson, to be our presidential nominee.

Yes, I’ve disliked Peterson’s snarky style in the past. Yes, I’ve called him a force of division in the liberty movement, because I disagreed with his negative attitude towards anarchocapitalists. Yes, I agree that he has a record of being a little bit of a dick, to put it bluntly.

But so do I, to put it bluntly. It’s easy for passion to morph into nastiness in heated discussions about things you care about, especially online.

The importance of the unique circumstances of this election cannot be overstated. For the first time in even our grandparents’ lifetimes, a majority of voters dislike both the Republican and Democratic candidates — the foul, frightening Donald Trump, and the cold, crooked Hillary Clinton — and there is a real opportunity for a third party to win their support, shake up the election, and break the old two-party system into a three-party system. Numerous polls indicate that it’s more possible than ever before. The large faction of #NeverTrump conservatives, in particular, is desperately searching for a moral alternative that isn’t authoritarian.

The LP has a historic opportunity to overcome the barriers to third-party success and build a strong coalition that the Republicans and Democrats will not be able to ignore. Getting into the presidential debates, and getting even 20% of the popular vote would be a great victory. I’ve already suspended my belief that political action is useless; I’m willing to give it another chance for the sake of challenging the two old parties that have wrecked my country. And I’ve already changed my voter registration to Libertarian. Now I’m suspending my personal dislike for Austin Peterson’s past behavior online, and am willing to give him a chance to be the face and voice of the liberty movement for at least the next six months, and hopefully longer.

Initially I assumed that success in this election would require the nomination of Gary Johnson. As a former Republican governor, he seemed like the best choice to court disillusioned conservatives who are looking for another option. However, that abruptly changed when he took an abhorrent, authoritarian position on freedom of association and religious liberty. His belief that the federal government should punish business owners whose consciences won’t allow them to provide services for certain individuals or events — i.e., a Jew declining to serve a neo-Nazi, or a Christian baker refusing to bake for a gay wedding that is forbidden by his or her church — is not only utterly anti-libertarian, unconstitutional, and un-American; it’s also strategically foolish considering that this is a hot issue for conservatives, and they’ll never go for this insane position. Even many liberal Democrats wouldn’t. Add a progressive stance on gun control, and conservatives don’t need to hear any more. They’ll turn to Trump, or write somebody in, or just abstain from voting.

Austin Peterson, however, has risen to the challenge of courting precisely the group of voters that we need. I listened to thirty minutes of him and Glenn Beck (and co-hosts) yesterday, and was extremely impressed. Even inspired. This 35-year-old guy sat in a room with three experienced, influential conservative talk radio hosts who reach millions every day, and held his own as they hammered him on bits and pieces of libertarian philosophy that they disagree with. Yet even as they disagreed, it was evident that they respect his knowledge and honesty, as well as his ability to highlight common ground.

This is the kind of guy that we need to represent us through the media (including social media), on talk radio and television, and eventually in televised debates. This is the kind of guy that we need to convince non-Libertarians to support or join the third-largest and fastest-growing party in the U.S.; particularly millennials, who are the most likely of any voting group to support an independent candidate (in the 90% range).

I am not a delegate. I have no say in who the Libertarian nominee will be — at least not directly. But many of you do, and if you are planning to choose Gary Johnson — as I would have quite recently — I sincerely ask you to reconsider. Look beyond whatever you have known and felt about Austin Peterson; look at his campaign, his skills, his strategy, his tactics, his potential.

He may not be our favorite person, but he needs to be our nominee.