L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 894, October 16, 2016
The Problem with Johnson
by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
In my “Election Day” article, I mostly discussed the prospect of a Trump presidency because I didn’t think a Hillary Clinton presidency was even worth mentioning. Even more so with Gary Johnson because he has a better chance of winning a gold medal in women’s figure skating then becoming president. Still there are many issues that I take with Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party itself. Even if the Libertarian Party doesn’t have a shot in hell of winning the presidency, they should at least make sure that they have the right guy representing their party.
Before I begin I do want to point out that I have no personal beef with Gary Johnson. He has actually done things that I find admirable. During his reign as the governor of New Mexico, he was able to get a legislator full of democrats to turn the state’s deficit into a balanced budget. I also find it admirable that Johnson had the guts to admit that he had done hard drugs back in his younger days, unlike Bill “I didn’t Inhale” Clinton who tried to weasel his way out of the issue to justify his hypocrisy on the War on Drugs. Yes, Johnson has some good qualities, but I think I would have liked it better if he just remained in the Republican Party. The problem is that once you run for president under the Libertarian Party, we actually expect you to represent values that are libertarian in nature, so it forces me to be more critical of his views that don’t quite jive with the movement.
I have heard Johnson on several occasions say that he supports the legalization of Marijuana, but has said very little about the harder drugs. I know that as disappointing as the last eight years under Obama have been for individual freedom, the one success that we have had is the legalization of Marijuana in other states, which is a step in the right direction. I also know that his defenders would tell me that the public isn’t ready for the legalization of hard drugs. As true as this may be, he has to know that his libertarian voters believe that they own their own bodies and have a right to do whatever they please with them, which does include the use of hard drugs. Johnson should also know that we are tired of the police state tactics that are used to enforce the prohibitions against hard drugs. At the very least I would have expected Johnson to propose some form of decriminalization policy for hard drugs.
I became even more disappointed with Gary Johnson during an episode of Stossel, where they had the three top candidates that were seeking the Libertarian nomination for president. Besides Gary Johnson, we also had Austin Petersen and John McAfee. At the time I thought it was going to be McAfee who was going to be the strongest candidate and the weakest was going to be Peterson. I had a few issues with Petersen when it seemed as if he was on some feminist social justice kick a while back, but ironically he ended up being a stronger libertarian candidate than Johnson. Johnson disappointed me when he said that the government had the authority to force a Christian baker to provide his services for a gay wedding in the name of preventing discrimination. So basically Johnson is willing to throw freedom of association, freedom of conscience and freedom from involuntary servitude under the bus, just so a gay couple won’t get their feelings hurt. I could almost hear Murray Rothbard who was the biggest advocate for property rights and the freedom of association turn over in his grave. Johnson would later try to weasel out of this position by saying that the government could force a baker to make a cake for the gay couple, but didn’t have the right to force him to decorate it. Yeah, nice save Gary.
Though my biggest issue with Johnson actually has more to do with his choice of running mates. He chose Bill Weld, a man who supports the government’s right to steal somebody’s land through Eminent Domain and give it to a private entity. He has also supported anti-gun legislation and has said things about guns that are so idiotic, you would think that these quotes came from Joe Biden. “The five-shot rifles, that’s a standard military rifle” Sure was, back in 1903. “The problem is if you attach a clip to it, it can fire more shells.” I take it back. I think even Joe Biden knows that semi-automatic rifles don’t fire shells. What is the matter, Gary? Joe Biden wasn’t interested in running with you? It makes me wonder if Gary picked Weld, so he would look more libertarian in comparison.
As I wrote earlier in this article, I probably wouldn’t be as critical of Johnson if he were running for any other party, but once you become a representative for the Libertarian Party, people are going to expect you to hold positions that are libertarian. We also expect better choices for your VP than a man who seems as about as libertarian as Donald Trump. Sadly, this isn’t the first time that the Libertarian Party has given us a dud as a candidate. What is even sadder is that Johnson is still a slight improvement over Bob Barr who was the presidential candidate of 2008. The Libertarian Party seriously needs to find better candidates than the rejects from the Republican Party.
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