Gary Johnson may be a Libertarian with a large “L”, but he is not a libertarian with a small “L”. He is a member of the party, who also happens to be the LP presidential nominee, but philosophically, he deviates quite a bit from libertarianism.
The more I see of Johnson and the more I think about it, the more disappointed I am. It was a great opportunity for the party to put somebody out there who would actually represent the libertarian viewpoint. Instead, we have a guy trying to get elected, or at least get a high vote total.
There is nothing wrong with trying to get elected if it is secondary. But if it means throwing principle out the window, then it doesn’t do any good. If that is the case, there is no point on getting him in office because he won’t govern like a libertarian.
New Mexico may have been more fiscally sound than the average state during Johnson’s time in office, but that isn’t saying much. Did he fundamentally change the structure of anything significant? He didn’t decline all federal money for education in the state. He didn’t get rid of the state income tax. It took Colorado to be the first state to legalize marijuana. It still isn’t legal in New Mexico. In other words, other than not blowing up spending in the state to astronomical levels, he didn’t really do all that much.
When you get to Washington DC, and especially the White House, the pressure is a lot greater than any governor ever experiences. The lobbyists and special interests are at the door before you ever move in.
Johnson doesn’t believe in the freedom of association, which is a basic libertarian element. Maybe it is uncomfortable for him to take this position, but that is what we need. We need for someone to take a stand and be willing to educate the public. Unfortunately, Johnson is not at all philosophical and just doesn’t come across as all that intelligent.
Tom Woods has spoken about Johnson and libertarianism. He says it drives him nuts when he hears that a libertarian is someone who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. That is what Johnson is saying all the time in response to the question of “What is a libertarian?” That phrase now drives me nuts too.
That question is a great opportunity to introduce people. There are many ways to effectively answer it. You could say that it means you should not initiate aggression against others. Or you could say that it means you should be able to live your life how you want to live it, and not the way that the politicians want you to live it.
This whole answer of fiscally conservative and socially liberal is so lame. I am almost embarrassed to say that I probably used it a time or two in the distant past. But libertarians don’t have to be socially liberal. They just have to oppose aggression against others who are not encroaching on other people. It doesn’t mean you have to approve of what they are doing.
And then there is foreign policy. If there is one issue where the president could really make a difference, this is it. I talk about economics a lot because that is what interests me and perhaps what I am strong at. But foreign policy is really the number one issue, especially when talking about the presidency. And even here, it is closely linked with economics because the spending on foreign policy is hundreds of billions of dollars per year (at least).
While Johnson certainly sounds better than Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, or Hillary Clinton, I am not convinced that he would do the right thing if he actually got into office. Now that he is the libertarian nominee, he is already getting wishy-washy.
When asked about ISIS, Johnson said that he would involve Congress. But what is there to involve Congress about? He could withdraw the troops within the first week of taking office. All U.S. troops can get out of Iraq and Syria, or better yet, the entire Middle East. There, the ISIS problem is solved.
Let’s say Hillary Clinton gets indicted and is forced out of the race, just hypothetically speaking. Now let’s say it is a three-way race between Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Gary Johnson. Out of those three, I would have the least amount of confidence in Johnson (and Weld) than I would the other two in terms of foreign policy.
Trump and Sanders are not libertarian when it comes to foreign policy. They are both inconsistent. But I believe these two would have a better chance of standing up for what’s right and actually come closer to enacting a non-interventionist foreign policy than Johnson and Weld. There is a better chance that Sanders and Trump would not sell out to the special interests. It’s my opinion and I could be wrong, but it is a strong and telling statement.
Right now, Johnson is giving ammunition to those who like to say that a libertarian is just a Republican who likes to smoke pot. That describes Johnson really well, except he is not a libertarian.