Republicans before the election worked to convince Libertarians that a vote for Gary Johnson (or any other third party) was a wasted vote -- that Libertarians needed to be voting against Obama and therefore for Republicans. Some libertarians have argued that the only way to change the Republican Party is from within. Libertarians need to join the party and then work to make the party less statist.
I thought this was a crock at the time and think so even more now. Here is the key thought: Republicans are not going to change their platform and their candidates and their positions to woo voters they are already getting. After the election, no one in the Republican leadership was talking about what a mistake it was to run a big government Republican like Romney -- the ex-governor of Massachusetts for God sakes -- who authored the predecessor to Obamacare. No one was wondering about Gary Johnson as a 2016 candidate.
What the GOP did do is panic at the shellacking they got among Hispanic voters. The ink was not even dry on the ballots before Republican leadership was considering abandoning their anti-immigrant stance in order to win more Hispanic voters. I am not sure that will get them Hispanic voters, but whether they are right or not, that is the conversation they were having. They were asking, "How do we attract voters WE DID NOT GET" -- not, "how do we attract voters we are already getting".
The turn of the century Progressive Party (William Jennings Bryant, free silver, etc) never won a Presidential election but both the Republicans and Democrats co-opted many of their platform positions because they sought to attract voters they were losing to the Progressives.
I don't see how Libertarians can look at a party that has fielded John McCain (author of speech restrictions) and Mitt Romeny (author of the proto-Obamacare) as any sort of long-term home. Heck, the Republicans more seriously considered Rick Santorum and Donald Trump than Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. I respect what Mr. Paul has done in bringing libertarian issues to the debate, but as long as he keeps reliably delivering his voters to whatever lame statist candidate the party fields, the GOP is never going to seriously address libertarian concerns.
I wasn't planning on watching the debates, but my wife made me watch the first 20 minutes. Is this really what passes for political discourse in this country? I was particularly struck by the appeals to unnamed authorities -- both candidates said something like "I saw a study the other day [unnamed] that said my plan was great" or "your plan was bad." Seriously pathetic.
And, after the corporatism and cronyism of the last 8+ years, the fact that Romney could not explain why it made sense to cut tax rates but eliminate deductions just convinced me he deserves to lose. He was losing to class warfare rhetoric on tax cuts, when he should have been taking the high ground, even with the occupy wall street folks, saying that it was time to stop tilting the tax code towards special interests and populist fads at least one of which -- the tilting of the tax code to home ownership -- helped drive the recent economic downturn.
I blog and don't tend to debate in real time, because I always think of great quips hours later, but even I had the perfect rejoinder for Obama in real time when he said, "I think we should return to Clinton era tax rates, when the economy was great and growing." Romney should have said, "If I am President, I will happily work with Democrats to do just that, as long as they agree to return to Clinton era spending levels. After all, if government policy during that era was really so perfect for the economy, then spending levels must have been appropriate as well."
I don't plan to watch any more of this garbage until and unless they include someone other than the Coke and Pepsi candidates. I'd like to see Gary Johnson but heck, even adding a Marxist would probably help.
OK, there are lots of reasons to get Obama out of office. The problem is, that for most of them, I have no reasonable hope that Romney will be any better. Corporatism? CEO as Venture-Capitalist-in-Chief? Indefinite detentions? Lack of Transparency? The Drug War? Obamacare, which was modeled on Romneycare? What are the odds that any of these improve under Romney, and at least under Obama they are not being done by someone who wraps himself in the mantle of small government and free markets, helping to corrupt the public understanding of those terms.
So I am pretty sure I cannot vote for Romey. I really like Gary Johnson and I am pretty sure he will get my vote. Republican friends get all over me for wasting my vote, saying it will just help Obama win. So be it -- I see both candidates undertaking roughly the same actions and I would rather that bad statist actions be taken in the name of Progressives rather than in the name of someone who purports to be free market.
To test my own position, I have been scrounging for reasons to vote for Romney. I have two so far:
1. Less likely to bail out Illinois when its pension system goes broke in the next few years
2. I might marginally prefer his Supreme Court nominees to Obama's
That is about all I have. Stretching today, I have come up with a third:
You know the press are in full defense mode protecting their guy in office when the only press that reports on the ACLU's accusation about sky-rocketing wire tapping under Obama are the libertarians at Reason and the Marxists at the World Socialist Web site. Four years ago the New York Times would have milked this for about a dozen articles. It may take a Republican President to get the media to kick back into accountability mode over expansions of executive power.
I decided today to volunteer for Gary Johnson's independent libertarian run for President. I have always been a Johnson supporter, and was disappointed that he did not get more attention in the debates and nomination process.
Yes, I know folks will be saying that if Gary Johnson does well, it will just be guaranteeing an Obama victory. You know what? Given the choices, I don't care. My other choices seem to be the guy who pilot-tested Obamacare and Rick Santorum, perhaps the only person the Republicans could have found with a deeper authoritarian streak than Obama. You know those 2x2 matrices where one leg is "government intervention in social issues" and the other is "government intervention in economic issues?" Where libertarians are low-low and Republicans and Democrats are each in one of the low-high boxes? Did you ever wonder who was in the high-high box? Well, Obama has moved pretty strongly into that space. But Santorum staked it out years ago. He is right out of the John McCain, I-am-nominally-for-small-governemnt-but-support-authoritarian-solutions-for-a-range-of-random-issues school.
In fact, I might argue that freedom and small government would be better served by an Obama second term that the yahoos likely to gain the Republic nomination. First, there is nothing worse than having statism and crony capitalism sold by someone who is nominally pro-market (see either of the Bushes as an example). Second, Republicans are much feistier about limiting spending and regulation in Congress when in opposition. They tend to roll over for expansions of state power when they have a fellow Republican in the White House -- just compare spending of the Republican Congress under Clinton vs. Bush. Medicare Part D, anyone?
As I heard Ayn Rand say in a public speech in 1981, there is only so far I can go choosing the lesser of two evils. I am now all in for Gary Johnson.
I continue to like everything I see of Gary Johnson. Unfortunately, I seldom see anything. For reasons not entirely clear to me, Johnson is being left out of the next Republican debate, despite polling better than many of those invited (and that despite a LOT less pub than folks like Rick Santorum).
I understand why the major media ignores him -- their strategy seems to be to focus on the wackiest Republican candidate, whoever that might be at the time. My only guess on Johnson is that he ticks off social conservatives who have a lot of power in the party. This is exactly the type of thing that has me not only indifferent to, but hostile to politics, and why you will almost never see horserace-style reporting of political races here.
Presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson charged today in a formal statement through his campaign that the Family Leader “pledge” Republican candidates for President are being asked to sign is “offensive to the principles of liberty and freedom on which this country was founded”. Governor Johnson also plans to further state his position against the Family Leader pledge this afternoon in Las Vegas, NV at a speech he will deliver at the Conservative Leadership Conference.
Johnson went on to state that “the so-called ‘Marriage Vow” pledge that FAMILY LEADER is asking Republican candidates for President to sign attacks minority segments of our population and attempts to prevent and eliminate personal freedom. This type of rhetoric is what gives Republicans a bad name.
“Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.
“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue’.
Johnson is easily my favorite Presidential candidate in recent memory.
“The fact is, I can unequivocally say that I did not create a single job while I was governor.”...
“Don’t get me wrong....We are proud of this distinction. We had a 11.6 percent job growth that occurred during our two terms in office. But the headlines that accompanied that report—referring to governors, including me, as ‘job creators’—were just wrong.”
I was pretty bummed out that Gary Johnson is not to be included in the debate slate for New Hampshire. I am not one (most definitely not one) to invest all my hopes and dreams in a political candidate, but I really like Gary Johnson and thought he could bring a new libertarian voice (in addition to Ron Paul's) to Republican discussions dominated by statists like Romney and Huckabee. I have met him once and listening talk about things like the costs of the war on drugs and immigration is just so refreshing from a politician of any sort, particularly a Republican. And in contrast to Ron Paul, who comes off as a bit wacky (and wonky), Johnson does it all in a very non-threatening way. Many people in this country self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially liberal -- this is their guy. They just haven't heard of him yet.
As an ex-governor well respected by independents, he strikes me as infinitely more worthy of a debate spot than, say, Donald Trump, who did receive an invitation. I wrote a whole column on the importance of being previously famous, rather than experienced, as a qualifier for office nowadays.
Have you heard the news? Apparently Donald Trump is running for President. Of course you would have to be living in a hole not to know that. Over the last couple of weeks, based just on media stories tracked by Google News, there have been over a thousand news stories a day mentioning Trump’s potential run for the White House. In fact, there are more than double the number of articles on Trump’s potential run than their are on the actual candidacies of Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and Tim Pawlenty combined.
Do you like candidacies by crazy populist billionaire reality TV stars? If so, then by all means, let’s have campaign spending limits.
The only thing more disappointing than most libertarian candidates for office are Republican and Democratic candidates for office. So my list of politicians I like and would be willing to actively support is pretty short, encompassing Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and I am not sure who else (I had been moderately comfortable with my the House Representative John Shadeg, but his retirement has led to his replacement by Ben Quayle -- yes, of that Quayle family -- of whom I am pretty skeptical.)
A while back at a Reason Foundation cocktail party I met former NM governor Gary Johnson. I liked what I saw of him there, and I still like him as I have learned more about him. Check out this profile in the New Republic.