Libertarian Party 2012 candidate for President Gary Johnson is finally getting some attention and, surprisingly, more and more supporters. I say “surprisingly” because while Libertarian candidates often do get some attention, it rarely translates to votes. 2008 Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr received only .4% of the nationwide vote; that’s even less than the .56% Ralph Nader received. Barr’s vote total topped 1% in just one single state, Indiana, were he received 1.06%. In Arizona, Barr got only .547%, in Colorado only .454%. But recent polling has Gary Johnson getting 7% of the vote in Colorado. In Arizona, Johnson is pulling as much as 9% of the vote, and in his home state of New Mexico he gets 12% of the vote. So who exactly is Gary Johnson?
Gary Johnson founded New Mexico’s largest construction companies. He entered politics for the first time in 1994, winning the Republican nomination for Governor. He ran on a fiscally conservative, low tax and anti-crime platform. He defeated incumbent Democratic Governor Bruce King, wining 50-40%. 1994 was a Republican wave election year, with Newt Gingrich and his “Contract with American” sweeping the Republicans into control of the U.S. House and Senate for the first time in a generation, and sweeping a number of Republicans into the Governor’s seat with them. But when Johnson ran for reelection in 1998 he won by an even larger margin, 55-45%. In his first term as Governor Johnson pledged to reduce the then 10% growth in the state’s budget, and faced with a strong Democratic majority in the legislature he achieved reduction in state spending by heavy use of the veto power, a national record of 48% of all legislation. But while he reduced state spending Johnson was also focused on improving education and actually increased spending for education. (Paying any attention, Gov. Brewer?)
Johnson continued his fiscally conservative approach to government in his second term, but was also gained widespread notice as the highest ranking elected official in the United States to advocate the legalization of marijuana. He called the War on Drugs was “an expensive bust” and compared attempts to enforce the nation’s drug laws with the failed attempt at alcohol prohibition. He proposed that drug abuse be treated as a health issue, not as a criminal issue. His approach to the issue garnered supportive notice from conservative icon William F. Buckley, as well as the Cato Institute and Rolling Stone. Johnson was highly praised for his hands-on management of the effort the combat and minimize the effects of the devastating Cerro Grande fire in 2000.
On May 5, 2012, at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, Johnson received the Libertarian Party’s official nomination for President of the United States. What are his positions? Johnson holds fiscally conservative, socially libertarian views, and a philosophy of limited government and military.
- Fiscal Conservatism: Johnson proposes submitting a Balanced Budget to Congress in his first year in office. He calls for “ending excessive spending, bloated stimulus programs, unnecessary farm subsidies, and earmarks”. Johnson says we must reassess the role of the federal government and identify responsibilities that can be met more efficiently by the private sector. Johnson says he would eliminate the costly and ineffective military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and limit defense spending to actions that truly protect the United States.
A balanced budget in 2013? Are you nuts? Yes, the current level of deficit spending is not sustainable in the long term. The key here is “long term”. In the early 1940s the federal government was racking up huge deficits and government spending reached an astounding 120% of GDP. And what happened? We defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan and emerged as the strongest superpower on earth. Massive federal spending and deficits can serve as a means to an end – in the short term. The key is to reduce that spending and pay down the debt when times are good. Think of how much stronger position we would be in today if GW Bush hadn’t doubled the debt during his 8 years in office when 6 of those years the economy was strong and growing and he pissed away the money on tax cuts no one needed and wars that needn’t have been fought. The 2012 budget deficit is projected to be $1.1 trillion dollars. You take $1.1 trillion out of the economy overnight and you’ll throw the U.S. and the rest of the world in the deepest economic depression ever seen. But I’m sure willing to start with “unnecessary farm subsidies”, most of which go to millionaire “farmers”. And throw in oil and gas subsidies, most of which go to multinational corporate conglomerates.
- Social Libertarianism: One of the primary points of contention I have with many so called “Libertarian” candidates is that while they call for “limited government” they far too often seek to expand government into private lives to impose their religious and/or moral views onto others. So I applaud Mr. Johnson’s true Libertarian views on social issues. Johnson believes “we are a nation of many peoples and beliefs. The only way to respect all citizens is to allow each to make personal decisions themselves“. He supports same sex marriage, saying “Government should not impose its values upon marriage. It should allow marriage equality, including gay marriage”. He believes “life is precious and must be protected. A woman should be allowed to make her own decisions during pregnancy until the point of viability of a fetus“. He believes the Patriot Act should be repealed. He supports stem cell research, although in keeping with limited government approach, he believes the research should be conducted by private companies and not with government funding. He thinks the TSA should take a “risk-based approach” to airport security, and only high-risk individuals should be subjected to invasive pat-downs and full-body scans. Johnson calls for the legalization of marijuana, pointing out that over 1 1/2 million Americans were arrested last year on drug charges last year, and nearly 40% of those arrests were for marijuana possession alone. Does this make sense, he asks? He also points out that marijuana is Mexico’s #1 illegal export, legalizing it would result in dramatically reducing the power and wealth of the drug cartels. Johnson believes abuse of hard drugs is a health problem that should be dealt with by health experts, not a problem that should be clogging up our courts, jails, and prisons with addicts. Instead of continuing to arrest and incarcerate drug users we should ultimately choose to adopt policies which aim to reduce death, disease, violence, and crime associated with dangerous drugs. Johnson points out that America has cut teen cigarette use in half, not by criminalizing possession and use, but through a combination of honest education and sensible regulation.
There is not a single word there I disagree with. Kudos to Mr. Johnson for being a true Libertarian when it comes to social issues.
- Limited Government and Limited Military: Johnson believes that we cannot have limited government at home while having “big government” abroad, and pledged to cut the military budget by 43 percent in his first budget as president. He believes our military should remain the most potent force on earth, but only for the direct protection of American soil and lives, and that we should resort to military action as the last option and only as provided in the Constitution. He would end our involvement in Afghanistan immediately, and also bring home the thousands of “advisers” still deployed in Iraq. He points out that decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, American troops remain scattered throughout Europe. It is time to reevaluate these deployments.
Hmmm . . . can’t find much to disagree with him there either.
You can read more of Mr. Johnson’s positions and background at GaryJohnson2012.com. Political pundits often characterize a vote for the third party candidate is a vote to let the “other guy” win. I have never been a fan of choosing between the lessor of two evils, and have voted for minor party candidates several times when I couldn’t stand either candidate with a ‘R’ or ‘D’ after their name. I may be a Democrat, but I have a strong dislike for Bill Clinton. The man is lying sonofabitch who gave us ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, DOMA, and NAFTA. And yes, Bill, the words “I promise to cherish and respect” are supposed to mean something. I enjoy a clear conscience in being able to say I never voted for him. 1992 was the only election win which I didn’t vote since being old enough, I was living and working overseas then. But back in the good old USA in 1996 I voted for Ralph Nader as my way of saying “None of the Above” to Slick Willy and Bob Dull (yes, Dole).
Make no mistake, I supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton (I like & admire Hillary, too bad she didn’t marry better – I didn’t want Bill Clinton anywhere near the White House again). I voted for Obama in 2008, and will vote for him again this November. I think he has done well with the bad situation he inherited, and I admire his leadership on many issues. And while I disagree with Gary Johnson’s positions in several areas, I sure like his views on social issues and military/foreign policy. I would much prefer Gary Johnson over Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is a spineless say anything to please anyone tool of the elites. Where is Mitt Romney this weekend? In a secluded, private retreat in the mountains of Utah, meeting with the Karl Roves and nameless, faceless billionaires who want to buy this election. If you can’t vote for Obama, instead of just voting for the lessor of two evils, take a look at Gary Johnson – at least you know where he stands. Can you say the same about Mitt Romney?