Libertarian Gary Johnson: Spoiler Alert?

Johnson's presence on all 50 state ballots could offer what a more libertarian GOP candidate once called "a choice, not an echo," in 2012.

As a small-"l" libertarian, it's not often I can say that National Public Radio cheers me up on my way into work. But it did the trick yesterday morning with an "All Things Considered" feature titled "Libertarians Find Their Voice in 2012 Race."

"Somewhere on the path to the White House this year," the announcer declared, "a powerful set of ideas began to creep into the mainstream debate over which direction the country will take ....free and open markets and extremely limited government. Those ideals are now becoming more mainstream." Case in point, according to NPR, was the Libertarian Party's decision Saturday to make former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico its nominee for president.

When the federally funded voice of urbane, upper-middle class liberalism says we're on the verge of a "libertarian moment," that's what the lawyers call an "admission against interest," and it's worth paying attention.

Watching the Libertarian Party over the years, I've sometimes had the feeling that, as George Bernard Shaw once snarked about socialism, "we should have had libertarianism already, but for the Libertarians."

In 2004, the LP's presidential standard-bearer was Michael Badnarik, a freelance constitutional lecturer who taught that the federal income tax was optional and refused to obtain a drivers' license despite campaigning by car. In 2006, the Montana LP nominated 67-year-old Stan Jones for the U.S. Senate. Because of his odd pallor, Jones quickly became known as "the blue guy." A survivalist who in the 1990s was worried about the impending Y2K crisis, Jones began taking a homemade antibiotic laced with collodial silver that permanently changed his complexion ("a true blue libertarian," the Washington Post called him). This weekend's LP convention, televised on C-Span, was a relatively buttoned-down affair, with most of the delegates in suits (though the irrepressible, omnipresent Starchild, libertarian activist and male exotic dancer, opted for a bare-midriff miniskirt number).

But Johnson is a far more appealing advocate for radical cuts in government than the LP has had in quite some time. And he got off some good lines in his convention speech Saturday. My favorite: "The libertarian candidate for president is the only candidate that's going to be talking about slashing welfare spending and warfare spending in the same sentence."

But to be a libertarian is to be eternally fractious and dissatisfied, refusing to take yes for an answer. So, of course, I have a bone or two to pick with the governor.

First, Johnson has gone on the record supporting President Obama's deployment of U.S. Special Forces to Uganda in a manhunt for Joseph Kony, murderous leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. This race deserves at least one candidate who won't send the U.S. military abroad in search of monsters to destroy.

Second, Johnson has told reporters he intends to seek millions of dollars in federal matching funds. If so, he'll be the first LP presidential candidate to have the taxpayers underwrite his campaign. That's a deviation that the self-styled "party of principle" should avoid.

One anti-Johnson argument that shouldn't get a lot of traction, however, is fear that the LP candidate will be a "spoiler;" that he will siphon off votes from Mitt Romney in a "lesser of two evils" race between the guy who practically invented Obamacare and the guy who passed it. If the major-party race is a battle between a president who's violated most of his campaign promises on civil liberties and a candidate who's already promised to do worse, then this election has arrived "pre-spoiled," through no fault of Gov. Johnson.

At the very least, Johnson's presence on all 50 state ballots could offer what a more libertarian GOP candidate once called "a choice, not an echo," in 2012.

Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute, the author of "The Cult of the Presidency," and a columnist at the Washington Examiner, where this article originally appeared

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  • crazyfingers||

    It's not guaranteed he'll be on all 50 ballots. For example, the Michigan SOS (a Republican) says she won't allow Gary Johnson on as a Libertarian, invoking a "sore loser" law since he ran in the GOP primaries.

  • Proprietist||

    Actually, he dropped out before any primaries were held, so technically he didn't "lose". Also he certainly dropped out before Michigan's primary, so I'm not seeing what jurisdiction she has to exclude him. Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    You make it sound like the two party stranglehold has some legitimate moral or legal basis.

  • Rob||

    According to MI.gov the LP gets to field a candidate.

  • Scotch Man||

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a Gary Johnson supporter but if he gets any more than 1%, I'll be very surprised.

  • John||

    Ron Paul owns that vote and it doesn't seem to be very transferable.

  • Juice||

    How will people vote for Ron Paul in the general election? He won't be on the ballot. Johnson will be (in most states).

  • John||

    They either won't vote or will vote for one of the major parties. Paul's constituency seems to be connected with Paul himself. It is not transferable.

  • crazyfingers||

    I don't think that's true. IMO most of Paul's support is due to the hard line he takes on foreign and monetary policy, as well as his uncompromising support for individual liberty. Johnson's consequentialist rather than philosophical approach to these issues doesn't really stir up passion among that crowd.

  • John||

    I think a lot of people support Paul because they trust him and think he honestly believes what he says. That is hard for other politicians to pull off.

  • sloopyinca||

    Well, Johnson came pretty close to living it when he was the Governor of NM. It may get him at least an opportunity with the hardcore Paul contingent (which I would say I am a part of).

    Scrutiny of his record helps Johnson with civil libertarians a lot more than it does Obama or Romney.

  • John||

    IF Johnson had any prayer of taking the Paul vote, he would have won some of the Paul vote in the Republican primaries. But he didn't do that. Johnson just never has gotten any traction with anyone but a very small subset of Libertarians.

  • Proprietist||

    ???

    They were competing against each other in the Republican primaries and Paul had a well-established organization and media coverage. Johnson was starting from scratch and trying to fight the media perception that there was already one too many libertarians onstage.

    Barring a miracle or a Romney kamikaze VP slot, Paul and Johnson won't be competing against each other in November, and I don't see a large percentage of Paul's people breaking for Romney over Johnson. I sincerely hope Paul endorses Johnson over Romney, or I will lose respect for Paul, especially after all the kind words Johnson had for Paul during the GOP debates.

  • ant1sthenes||

    "IF Johnson had any prayer of taking the Paul vote, he would have won some of the Paul vote in the Republican primaries."

    Why? They had Paul as a choice. If Paul is an A candidate for them and Johnson is a B candidate (Romney's a D- and Obama is an F), then they're going to go with Paul. But in the general election, if their B candidate is running a third party campaign against a D- and an F, why not back him?

  • mgd||

    John|5.8.12 @ 2:17PM|#

    IF Johnson had any prayer of taking the Paul vote, he would have won some of the Paul vote in the Republican primaries.

    Bullshit. The GOP establishment kept him out of the debates. He had no exposure. If he gets it now, he will take the Paul vote.

  • ||

    I think a lot of people support Paul because they trust him and think he honestly believes what he says.

    That's what got my BLUE-leaning father to support him. In his case, at least, that's non-transferable.

  • ReformRealist||

    Possibly, but as far as I know Gary Johnson was pretty consistent as Governor.

  • John||

    Alack,

    I know several Team Blue people who think the same way. That is why I don't find this poll that shocking. Just surprising.

  • Juice||

    I remember in 2007 people saying, "We don't support Ron Paul, the man, but his ideas." Seemed to be bullshit at the time and I guess it still is.

  • crazyfingers||

    Well, who else is taking up Ron Paul's ideas? He is a radical unlike any other on the national stage. Johnson can't really claim the mantle when he campaigns on imposing a national sales tax, keeping Guantanomo bay open, keeping most recreational drugs illegal, intervening overseas on behalf of Israel, etc.

  • Juice||

    Right. I don't support Gary Johnson.

    I also wish Ron Paul were less...right wing.

  • Proprietist||

    Johnson's his own person. Many of us libertarians would be perfectly happy with incremental, imperfect progress that reaches out and pulls the center towards libertarianism than be "right" and "principled" yet allow statists to proceed with carrying the country in the wrong direction due to a lack of political realism.

    That's Johnson's appeal, and why he will be the first candidate that I've ever been actually happy and motivated to vote for.

  • Rob||

    Getting a few small libertarian changes through congress would be better than fighting to the death for widespread changes that will be killed by team red and/or blue. I think Johnson understands this. I'd like to see him slash 43% of the federal government, but we know that wouldn't happen in 4 or 8 years of a Johnson presidency, no matter how much we want it to come true.

    Sadly at this point I would be amazed by anyone who could actually shrink spending by just $1, from one fiscal year to the next.

  • Brandon||

    Depends on if Paul officially endorses Johnson after the GOP convention.

  • sloopyinca||

    I took a pencil in in 2008 and voted for Paul. It took a little more effort than punching a hole, but was well worth it.

    And FWIW, I'll be voting for Johnson this year if the name Ron Paul is not on the ballot.

  • ||

    Same here.

  • shamalam||

    me too.

  • Kroneborge||

    me as well

  • robc||

    ditto

  • Shirley Temple of Doom||

    Call me a hopeless romantic, but I'm more inclined to write-in Paul.

  • predius||

    What will be interesting is seeing what the Paul "machine" does in the general election. In 2008 (with a smaller but still not as well oiled campaign as now) there was no viable candidate outside of McCain and Obama to get a bit of the momentum.

    The "R3volution" has got much bigger and has more momentum than in did in 2008 and seems to be increasing as the general election approaches. I'm sure it won't be 100% overlap but a lot of those "resources" (ie blogs, forums where Paulites do their strategic planning) could very easily mount pro-Johnson campaigns that would lead him to poll over 1-2% at least, especially in a "Romney-Obama" where there's a lot of disillusioned liberals and conservatives.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    It will be more transferable than it was for Barr. How much? I don't know. Maybe a completely insignificant amount. But at least Johnson hasn't kicked of his campaign by actively attacking Paul like Barr did. What a dumbass move that was.

  • crazyfingers||

    Agreed. The idea that we are in a "libertarian moment" is absurd.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The idea that we aren't is also absurd, as we damned well should be.

  • John||

    I guess this belongs on this thread. A Ron Paul third party run actually helps Romney.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.co.....on_paul_13

    Maybe there are a few Democrats out there who actually care about civil liberties after all. Or maybe the yute vote makes the difference. I am not sure. But I am very surprised by this.

  • Juice||

    They just haven't heard about the newsletters yet. Or the theocracy bills he's drafted. ;-P

  • sloopyinca||

    No way is that accurate. And if it is, the GOP needs to go balls-out to get RP the nomination since it would spell doom for Team Blue. DOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • John||

    It is from Rasmussan. It is not like it is from World Net Daily or something. Why can't it be accurate? Is it possible that more lefties are disgusted with Obama than their leaders are wiling to admit?

  • sloopyinca||

    Because if it is, the GOP establishment would be creaming in their pants to endorse Paul, because there's no way in hell Romney siphons off a single vote from Obama on civil liberties. And there would be nobody to the right of Paul on social issues to steal the SoCon vote. It would be a no-brainer...or an outlier.

    I'm also pretty sure Rasmussen is to the GOP what PPP is to Team Blue. They skew polls to be answered in their favor whenever possible.

  • Juice||

    Because if it is, the GOP establishment would be creaming in their pants to endorse Paul,

    They would rather lose than nominate Paul. haven't you been paying attention these past 6 years?

  • John||

    1st. We don't know what the GOP is actually telling Paul in private. They may want Paul to run. But if they did, they wouldn't come out and admit that.

    Second, even if the poll is true, that doesn't mean the GOP would necessarily want it. It is still only May. A Ron Paul candidacy is very unpredictable. They may like their chances in a two way better than a three way even if it looks right now as if a three way would hurt Romney.

    And yes Paul winning the nomination made a lot of sense in a lot of ways. But Paul pissed that opportunity away with his whole "the US had it coming on 9-11 schtick." And don't whine to me he didn't really mean that. Perception is reality. And the fact is Paul said a lot of stupid and unnecessary things that created that perception true or not.

  • crazyfingers||

    Yeah, how crazy to examine the motivations of our enemies. Playing directly into their hands has worked out so much better.

  • John||

    Yeah because examining the motivations of lunatics who fly planes into building is really going to be fruitful.

    You examine the motivations of someone in hopes you can reason with them. You can't reason with people who are willing to die a completely pointless death for the single purpose of killing as many people as possible. Paul and indeed many people on Reason can't get that through their heads. Sometimes it is just not about you. And some people really don't give a shit how sorry or how reasonable you are.

  • crazyfingers||

    Bin Laden knew he would never be able to defeat the U.S. militarily. So he baited it into a never-ending occupation of the Middle East which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and has created a fertile recruiting environment for those who hate America. He got the exact reaction he wanted, thanks to people like you.

  • John||

    Crazyfingers,

    That is just complete and utter horseshit. We know from the people we have captured that that was not Bin Ladin's plan at all. Bin Ladin thought that if he brought the war to US soil, the US public would demand the US get out of the middle east and stop supporting Israel and more importantly the Saudis. The last thing he wanted or thought would happen was for the US to show up in Afghanistan after him.

    That "he wanted us to come to war" is a myth that needs to die. It is just not true. And I defy you to show me a single piece of intelligence or proof that says that it is true.

  • Zeb||

    How would it not be fruitful? There are plenty of reasons for understanding someone's motivation other than trying to reason with them to change their behavior. Even if you can't reason with them, it would help to understand the motivation as it might help predict what else such people might do. In any case, it woudl be foolish not to try to understand the motivations of your enemy. If you don't understand what they are doing, you wouldn't know how to avoid doing things that would make the problem even worse.

    And you are way oversimplifying the motivations of the 911 terrorists. If they just wanted to kill as many people as possible, there would have been much better places to do it. They wanted to target the US because of the position in the world that the US holds.

  • robc||

    If they just wanted to kill as many people as possible, there would have been much better places to do it.

    Flying the planes into the Big House and Neyland Stadium on a fall Saturday, for example.

    There is 200k dead, with two planes to go.

  • Juice||

    How could he NOT have said that?

    "Stop the wars."

    "Why should a Republican(TM) want to stop the wars?"

    "Because it causes terrorism."

    What else is he going to say? It costs too much? Republicans(TM) like the military to cost more than the rest of the world's combined. It kills innocent people? Since when do Republicans(TM) give a shit about non-American, non-Israeli deaths?

    It causes terrorism is his only option for getting the anti-war message into the Republican primary.

  • John||

    No. The way you do it is to say that we accomplished what we set out to do, namely a punitive expidition and it was time to go home. The war was about killing Al Quada and eliminating Saddam Huisain not creating detoqueville on the Tigris.

    Had Paul been smart, he could have played Republican patriotism and hatred of our enemies in his favor. But he seemed constitutionally incapable of doing that. I think at some level he really believes the US got what it deserved. I can't see any other reason why he would have said the things he did.

  • sloopyinca||

    Jesus Tapdancin' Christ, John. Have you ever once listened to a speech by Paul on the Afghan or Iraqi wars? His view on the way to proceed is pretty much what you said. He also said he was for action, but wanted it to be done according to the Constitution.

    Say what you want about his speeches on the causes of 9/11, but his proposed course of action afterward has been consistent and right-headed.

  • John||

    The actions were taken in accordance with the Constitution. The Congress approved both of those wars.

    And what he said about 9-11 matters. Why did he say it? What did it get him other than making sure that 2/3rds of the Republican electorate would never vote for him?

    Face it, Paul had a golden opportunity this year and he pissed it away making stupid and offensive statements about 9-11. What a waste.

  • Zeb||

    What statements that Paul made about 911 were stupid (I'll let the "offensive" go because people are offended at all sorts of stupid stuff)? It seemed to me that he was just serially misinterpreted for stating uncomfortable facts. Acknowledging that US policy had something to do with the motivation for the attacks is not saying that it was our fault in any way shape or form.

  • sloopyinca||

    The actions were taken in accordance with the Constitution. The Congress approved both of those wars.

    That's debatable, since we've spread both operations to other nations. I never saw Pakistan in the Afghan authorization and I never saw some of the other nations we've used murderdrones in. Face it, the engagements were not authorized in their current form.

  • sloopyinca||

    The actions were taken in accordance with the Constitution. The Congress approved both of those wars.

    That's debatable, since we've spread both operations to other nations. I never saw Pakistan in the Afghan authorization and I never saw some of the other nations we've used murderdrones in. Face it, the engagements were not authorized in their current form.

  • robc||

    The Congress approved both of those wars.

    The constitution doesnt require approval. It requires a declaration. They specifically voted down a Declaration of War against Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Juice||

    "Secretly" he thinks it was an inside job.

  • sloopyinca||

    Are you fucking retarded, juice? Or was that directed at someone else?

  • robc||

    "the US had it coming on 9-11 schtick."

    You know that is bullshit, you have admitted in the past that is bullshit.

    Stop lying.

  • robc||

    Perception is reality.

    Bull fucking shit.

    Reality is reality.

  • Brandon||

    Oh, shit. John is back on his anti-Paul cycle. He's not going to be making much sense for a few days.

  • Virginian||

    John is kind of correct.

    I think that if you look at the right wing blogs and forums and such there's much more of a declare victory and go home feeling then the establishment would like. But you cannot even hint that it's anything less then a victory, you cannot bring up 9/11 at all. It has to be pure Nixon, we are not retreating from Vietnam, we are turning it over to our noble Vietnamese allies. It doesn't matter if the blowback theory is true or not. What matters is dealing with things as they are now.

    Paul could have tapped into that. Paul could have hit that hard and tapped into a huge groundswell of support. He could have plastered pictures of him in his USAF uniform and emphasized that he was the only one of the field to have served in the military. He could have wrapped himself in the flag, because he has the strongest case due to his own personal history being ideal for it. He's actually an honest man. Veteran, doctor, family man. Absolutely awful politician.

  • Mensan||

    I think the GOP establishment is dumb enough to think that most of that 13% goes to Romney if Paul's not in the race.

  • predius||

    There's also "53% See Third-Party Candidate As Likely President in Next 10 to 12 Years"
    http://www.rasmussenreports.co.....o_12_years

  • Juice||

    53% of the people have no idea how the two party system really works.

  • ReformRealist||

    It's very unlikely a third party candidate is elected to be President any time soon unless we get massive electoral reform.

  • ReformRealist||

    It's very unlikely a third party candidate is elected to be President any time soon unless we get massive electoral reform.

  • ¿Ex Nihilo?||

    You can say that again. Oh wait.

    /sarc

  • John||

    ^^This^^

  • Thomas O.||

    One of the main reasons that third parties face a glass ceiling... Three words: Straight ticket voting.

    We have too many voters that are too complacent with just pushing one button and having everything on their ballot filled out for them. And sure, they could do that for the Libertarian Party, but I've a feeling that most straight-ticket voters on both sides are either too brainwashed, too proud of their side or too afraid of what their friends might think if they switched sides.

  • mgd||

    Plus a straight-ticket vote for a third party means that the voter will not be voting in many of the races.

  • Zeb||

    I think that a lot of liberals are really disgusted with Obama. I think a lot of them will still vote for him, but I know at least a few who say they will not.

  • Lowdog||

    All my dipshit friends say there must not be a republican president at all costs, even though they have to admit that Obama has been a huge disappointment. They won't vote 3rd party because they're so terrified of the republicans, so I guess it's one party rule for them. Hurray!

  • ReformRealist||

    This is what the American electoral system encourages.

  • Zeb||

    Well, I think that there is a pretty good argument that a Republican president woudl be a bad idea, especially if it looks like the Repubs will take the Senate this year. Either party controlling both congress and the presidency woudl be worse than 4 more years of Obama. But that's probably not the argument your dipshit friends are making.

  • sloopyinca||

    Second, Johnson has told reporters he intends to seek millions of dollars in federal matching funds. If so, he'll be the first LP presidential candidate to have the taxpayers underwrite his campaign. That's a deviation that the self-styled "party of principle" should avoid.

    Why shouldn't he? I just do not see the hypocrisy in this. The two party system set it up this way to put a stranglehold on federal elections. It's about time a third party got a high enough % of the vote to siphon off some of this money from the big two.

    The LP can still be the party of principle. The easy way to do this is to ask for federally matching funds while calling for its ouster.

  • ReformRealist||

    And/or by fighting for electoral reform. Plurality voting looks to be the main reason the two-party system is so entrenched.

  • Marshall Gill||

    The LP can still be the party of principle. The easy way to do this is to ask for federally matching funds while calling for its ouster.

    I don't understand this. To me, principle means that you do something because you believe it is the right thing to do. You seem to be saying that principle simply means talking big and then acting differently.

    "Taking taxpayer dollars for elections is wrong. You quit first" isn't what I call being "principled".

  • sloopyinca||

    We're not talking about railing against the gassing of the Jews but driving the train there, Marshall. We're talking about playing by long-established rules in an attempt to get them changed by finally getting elected. And the rules in place are there by design to limit the chances of the LP and other third parties from getting elected.

    It's the same as paying income taxes. I hate doing it and I consider myself principled. But playing by the rules gives me a chance to continue feeding my family. It also gives me a chance to change it.

  • Marshall Gill||

    We're talking about playing by long-established rules in an attempt to get them changed by finally getting elected.

    If this is the case, the guiding principle is not Liberty, but power in the name of Liberty. A principle that can be sacrificed in the name of expediency is not a principle.

    Should/will this be the only area in which the LP ignore their "principles" and "play by the rules" to get them changed?

    They could take Federal funds to achieve power but would refuse to continue to take Federal funds to remain in power? That isn't the way human nature works, is it?

  • Rob||

    They could take Federal funds to achieve power but would refuse to continue to take Federal funds to remain in power? That isn't the way human nature works, is it?

    That isn't the way human nature works, but I'm willing to take a chance on the LP surprising us.

  • ant1sthenes||

    "If this is the case, the guiding principle is not Liberty, but power in the name of Liberty."

    The man is running for president. To the extent he holds out any hope of winning, of course he's looking for power.

  • Thomas O.||

    Sometimes you have to play the game by their rules for a little bit, if you get the big break. And I think the Libertarian Party right now has a golden opportunity to expand its profile and break into the "political A-list".

  • Zeb||

    Using taxpayer dollars to fund elections is wrong. But the government is doing that, not the LP. If you want to be that pure, then you should also stop driving on non-toll roads and refuse to receive or send anything through the mail.

  • Marshall Gill||

    If you want to be that pure, then you should also stop driving on non-toll roads and refuse to receive or send anything through the mail.

    Fair enough. Is there anything a principled Libertarian should refuse? Since you can't be absolutely pure, do anything? Just make sure to swear you are opposed and that you support it's change?

  • Banjos||

    Let the purity tests begin!

  • Marshall Gill||

    Don't get me wrong, I am not attempting to apply a purity test to anyone except myself.

    I feel that I must back up what I say and believe with actions. Because I believe that wealth transfers are wrong, I don't take unemployment, even when eligible. I quit a fairly high paying job because it was created as a result of government bullshit. Even though I won't be eligible for another 16 years, I am steeling myself for the fact that I will put a bullet in my head before taking a penny of Social Security. Even though I pay property taxes on four houses I home school my children and will not use "free" government online school, either.

    Am I a fool for attempting follow my principles? Should I just take every looted cent I can get my hands on, and vote for people who are not likely to get elected or change anything?

  • ||

    You're not a fool, and it's admirable what you are doing.

    However, you are drawing an artificial line at what constitutes "adhereing to your principals". For example, you don't send your kids to gov't school, but you still use public roads. Why is one acceptable, and the other not? For the sake of convenience?

    I'm sure you have some products in your home which were, in part, manufactured under the aegis of gov't support in the form of money or favorable regulation. Why do you not scrutinize every manufacturing component of everything you purchase to ensure this is not the case?

    Ultimately, you're also enabling the system by paying the taxes to begin with. The ultimate expression of your principals would be to go to jail rather than pay taxes.

    I'm not recommending that you do any of these things. All I'm saying is, that you're already somewhat arbitrary in what you consider to be living by your principals. The things you listed are big, obvious, and easier than some others to live by. It's nothing but a personal decision as to what level of inconvenience you're willing to accept to stay with your principals.

  • Proprietist||

    Maybe the fact that he lives by annoying principals is the reason he doesn't want to send his kids to their schools? Ohhh...you mean princiPLES.

    But you're right - the Paul campaign uses the U.S. mail to send out mailers instead of private couriers. Does that mean he's unprincipled? From a policy perspective, many argue the earmarks issue does.

  • ||

    Moral principles are inherently arbitrary, so there's no point discussing their arbitrariness.

    In the extreme case, our work, the air we breathe, the products we buy will to some degree enable actions with which we disagree.

    Statements are generally terse to facilitate convenient communication, but that doesn't mean that what's said is all there is. If one tries, one can express one's moral principles in terms of every imaginable characteristic and implication, but that'd be silly.

    Don't be silly, Goji.

  • ||

    At this juncture, not robbing, killing, or assaulting people has to pass for the NAP. You cannot live by the one-drop purity rule in society as it is currently constructed, unless you want to go all White Indian out in the wilderness somewhere. Really this debate is meaningless without massive electoral change.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    I think you'll find, if you think about it, that you are actually making the "but you use the ROADZ!" argument that we rightly ridicule when used for drive-by trolling.

    If you don't think so, I'd be interested in the distinction.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Once the government steals it, it doesn't belong to the taxpayers anymore. That's how I see it at least.

  • R C Dean||

    Here you go.

    I hate, Hate, HATE the trope that government spending/"investing"/etc. is "taxpayer" money.

    Its not. Taxpayer money is the money the government hasn't taken yet. You know, the money the taxpayer actually still has.

    Once the government has it, its not the taxpayers' money any more.

  • DEA||

    If you assume that the government has no right to that money, you can still legitimately call it 'taxpayer money', since you believe the money belongs with the taxpayer, not the gov't. If someone steals your TV, is it no longer your TV? Possession is an abstract thing, guys.

  • ||

    It's a semantic distinction, but it is important to understand how your words will be understood, to know how to communicate ideas most effectively.

    Their (Biggins' and Dean's) negative reaction is probably caused by their belief that the right to one's money is stolen by the government, and that we shouldn't pretend otherwise. It's justifiable, so say I.

  • Proprietist||

    And once again, federal matching funds are paid from a voluntarily funded account. It's not inherently unlibertarian to seek those funds, even if you disagree with the concept of the federal administration of election funds.

  • Proprietist||

    And the more of those funds he takes, the smaller the pie for the establishment parties.

  • deified||

    Healy's commentaries are the best regular feature on Hit 'n Run by a country mile.

    That said, I was surprised that the author didn't mention the most intriguing possibility of the Johnson campaign.

    Johnson was a former governor, so if there's a sort of "respectability prerequisite" that former LP POTUS candidates hadn't reached, well, Gov. Johnson clears it easily.

    But, more importantly, in any sufficiently closely matched state (where in the Ds and Rs are separated by less than, say, 8 points), Johnson could be deployed by either candidate against his opponent. Imagine the race in, say, Colorado, a large purple state. Obama might promote (secretly) promote Johnson the "cut 43% of the budget candidate" as the TRUE fiscal conservative in the race. Simultaneously, Romney might secretly try to promote the Johnson the legalize MJ now" and "end the foreign wars TODAY" candidate as the TRUE candidate of the peace-and-civil liberties Left.

    In other words, Johnson has a very real chance of doing as well as Ralph Nader in the 2000 election.

    And Ralph Nader, in the 2000 election, was decisive. (Disregard his exceedingly thin protestations to the contrary.)

  • John||

    NAder was. And what good did it do him? Does either party or really anyone care what Nader has to say today? I don't see where he his performance did anything to advance his cause. In fact it hurt it because it made Nader completely verboten in the Democratic Party.

  • ReformRealist||

    Nader failed to reach 5%. If Johnson can get that (an uphill battle no doubt) then he will have done what he set out to do.

  • John||

    Which is what? Suppose he wins 10% like John Anderson did in 1980. The only way it means anything is if the losing side embraces him in hopes of winning the next time. But Nader proves that to be very unlikely. More likely is both sides will just hate him.

  • ReformRealist||

    I don't think it is about even being able to win in 2016. It does help the Libertarian Party and if they pick the right candidate could give them momentum and a platform by which to disseminate ideas. I would also hope Gary Johnson makes electoral reform a central part of his message as that is what is really necessary. Hopefully that could help in bulding more broad-ranged support in futre elctions as well.

  • ant1sthenes||

    It's not about him, it's about his voters. If Big Party feels that losing that voting bloc cost them an election, then so long as it doesn't cost them more votes, they're going to try to appease that bloc.

  • ||

    Doubtful. Appeasing that bloc means increasing liberty. More likely is that they'll pretend to appease it, as usual.

  • Thomas O.||

    Which is why I say the Libertarian Party needs a flashy, hip ad campaign directed at young voters. I think not a lot of people realize there is another viable alternative out there, just the seemingly hip, young party (that may end up taxing the crap out of them) and the out-of-touch, fuddy-duddy "other side" (that can't get out from under the bible-beaters' collective thumb). If we can get everyone's attention and say "hey, we're the best of both worlds and we genuinely are all about FREEDOM AND LIBERTY", we could make a sizable dent in the status quo.

  • sloopyinca||

    As if Johnson cares about being treated the same by the GOP? They treated him like a pariah. If they continue to do so, he doesn't seem to give a shit. And he said so in not so many words at the convention.

  • John||

    So once again, what does getting 5% or whatever accomplish?

  • sloopyinca||

    It gets federal funding for the LP for 2016. And it likely gets a LP talking head on the TV more often.

    And those are very important for the growth of libertarianism.

  • John||

    Just like Nader getting federal funding for the Green Party and Perot getting federal funding for the Reform party did so much good.

    The only way to accomplish anything is to take over or influence one of the major parties. Otherwise it is piss meet wind.

  • ReformRealist||

    That is not necessarily true. The Populist party no doubt had a profound effect on American politics without ever winning. I guess you could argue they took over both parties at different times, but they built a movement. Gary Johnson's campaign could help sustain some of the momentum Ron Paul has generated.

    I also don't believe Nader ever got to 5%. The Reform Party shot itself in the foot with all the infighting.

    It is very difficult to influence the major parties as the entrenched elites will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo.

  • Proprietist||

    Wrong, John - I wouldn't consider all third parties apples to apples. The Reform Party collapsed because it lacked any coherent ideology, and thus different factions with radically different ideologies were battling for control. The Green Party, being essentially positioned around the Democratic base, will inherently be a spoiler, as would a "Tea Party" if it emerged separately from the GOP, so their campaigns are somewhat self-defeating.

    The LP has a consistent ideology and does not spoil either party (or spoils both about equally). Its problem has always been that it was too radical to be taken seriously. Hated Barr, but over the past two tickets (especially this one), the LP is starting to change the "anarchocapitalist egghead" perceptions towards something more politically serious and able to compete.

  • SIV||

    Ron Paul is on the right track.

  • Thomas O.||

    "The REPUBLICAN Party? Hah! They'll never get any kind of a foothold in our political system! The Democrats and the Whigs are way too established!" - Somewhere in Washington D.C., mid-19th century

  • DEA||

    Yes, you would like us the believe that John. Arguably it's the most direct way to empowering libertarians. But as Ron Paul has shown, the GOP is not open to a peace candidate. They might be slightly more open to a smaller government candidate, but I don't they see either of those qualities as desirable in their party. And we know liberals double down on the worst bits of their philosophy. There's no place for a real libertarian in either party as they now stand.

  • R C Dean||

    It would be a dream come true if the LP became as influential on the Repubs as the Greens are on the Dems. Look at the positions crypto-Greens hold in the Obama administration, and impact they have had on policy.

    If a strong Johnson run scares the Repubs into trying to co-opt the Libertarian message, I would take that as progress.

  • JoshSN||

    Historically, every time a 3rd party made a difference it was to scuttle the chances of the 2nd choice of their voters.

    Clay and Cass lost because of the Liberty and Free Soil parties, respectively, most certainly.

    http://satp.blogspot.com/2005/.....lysis.html

  • sloopyinca||

    There are only a couple of us that were at the LP National Convention, and I can assure you, there was a lot of talk about Ron Paul in the debate, the nominating speeches and after the Johnson nomination. Without exception, this will be a courtship of the Ron Paul supporters if he does not get the GOP nod. And every time someone brought that up, they said they hoped he did get the nod because it would enhance the odds of a libertarian winning the presidency.

    I was shocked to hear that as well. The LP actually seemed to be wholesale supporting Ron Paul to the point that if he does get the nod, the entire LP will support his candidacy.

  • shamalam||

    That's where principles over partisanship gets you. Get a Libertarian in the presidency, Paul or johnson, either is acceptable.

  • ||

    This election was "pre-spoiled." I like that.

  • E. Zachary Knight||

    I would love to see Johnson on the ballot in Oklahoma. However, he has an uphill climb to get there. The Libertarian failed to gain recognition in Oklahoma. They got around 50,000 signatures of the required 52,000+ requirement but were unsuccessful in getting an injunction against the state from enforcing its now shorter petition gathering time. He can still get on the ballot as an Independent, but he needs to get at least 43,000 signatures by July 15th to qualify, but in reality, he would need upwards of 70,000 in order to clear the hurdle of invalidated signatures. So let's hope the Libertarian Party has enough cash to spare for professional petitioners in Oklahoma to make it happen in 2 months.

  • Michael||

    ... the federally funded voice of urbane, upper-middle class liberalism...

    That's dog whistle code for rich honkies, yes? I recently heard one of their in-house promos featuring an almost cartoonishly accented Hispanic male that laments the stereotype of the typical NPR listener being white and well-to-do, and how that shit is - you know - like, totally racist because he obviously is a listener as well. It was absolutely side splitting.

  • johnd2||

    If memory serves me correctly, Ron Paul makes very few endorsements. Of course Gary Johnson is way closer to his views than Romney.

  • Anonymous Bosch||

    Obama and Romney are even more mediocre and indistinguishable than Bush and Gore were.

    I can maybe, sorta, kinda see the libertarian case for a Tea Party Republican. But any "libertarian" who attacks or ignores Johnson to shill for Romney votes is no doubt a stealth Team Red douchebag.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    At some point my voice has to have SOME shades of similarity. The last several decades have left me wanting. Johnson works to at least not leave me feeling so fucking fringe-ish. And, Ronny Baby, I lovya. I always will, but you're a old seer and people en masse have little respect for the prophets of civilization. Gary is youngish, sexy, and doesn't skeer granma as much.

  • Brian from Texas||

    The GOP is in the process of nominating a candidate (Romney) who has been a role model for Obamas socialist policies like government healthcare. The Republicans have only themselves to blame if enough voters realize this in November and send enough votes in Gary Johnson's direction to tip the balance in a close race between Obama and Romney.

  • jason||

    He is well known intellectual person and he make the urgent alert.

  • xiexie||

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