Libertarianish Politicians: Very Interesting to the Left When Marginalized


Salon plays a somewhat typical prog-left journalism card, finding libertarianism quite interesting, refreshing, and valuable when posited against "standard Republicans."

Still, this profile of Gary Johnson, a very libertarian-leaning former New Mexico governor and apparent 2012 GOP presidential candidate, does a good job making him sound encouraging and even un-frightening to its intended audience (mostly by gliding over the free market stuff). Some excerpts, with requisite "he couldn't possibly matter" expert opinion:

Gary Johnson…is talking about hookers. 

"It's never been a consideration that I would enlist the services of a prostitute, myself personally," he says. "But if I were to do that, where would I want to enlist that service? Well, it would probably be in Nevada, where it's legal, because it would be safe." 

When's the last time Mitt Romney engaged in a hypothetical like that? But Johnson doesn't even blink. It's not like this is the only topic on which he risks offending the GOP's base. He also favors legalizing pot, supports abortion rights, and opposes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Oh, and he doesn't go to church. "I don't think you'll ever hear me invoking God in anything I do," he tells me. 

It is an incongruous foundation from which to seek the mantle of a party whose last president, George W. Bush, famously claimed that his favorite philosopher is Jesus Christ. 

Johnson faces other obstacles, too. Aside from his low name-recognition, he has no discernible power base….

"His chances are zero," political analyst Stu Rothenberg says via e-mail. "I'd say that they are less than zero, if there was such a thing. I'd expect his impact to be nonexistent." 

That assessment may prove correct, but it's also worth remembering that the same things were said a few years ago about an obscure Texas congressman named Ron Paul…..

Johnson doesn't bother to hide his disdain for his party's hard-liners. Take the incendiary new immigration law passed in Arizona, for instance: 

"I just don't think it's going to work," he says. "I think it' s going to lead to racial profiling. I don't how you determine one individual from another—is it color of skin?—as to whether one is an American citizen or the other is an illegal immigrant." 

Johnson favors an expansive guest worker program and is uncomfortable with the idea of mass deportations. What about the idea of increasing security by means of a border wall? 

"I have never been supportive of the wall," he replied. "A 10-foot wall [just] requires an 11-foot ladder." 

Up until now, Johnson's main national claim to fame has been his effort, while he was New Mexico's governor, to legalize marijuana. The push failed, but Johnson remains committed to the cause. 

"I have always seen this as a gigantic issue, when you consider what we spend on law enforcement and the prisons," he says. "The fact that we are arresting 1.8 million people a year—and to what end? We have had virtually no effect on this in decades of pursuing current policy. I don't know why we can't accept marijuana use similar to alcohol."

….On foreign policy, Johnson' s views are straight out of Paul' s rhetorical armory. He asserts that "our security is not being threatened" in either Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, he argues, America' s "actions have actually had a reverse impact on our security. We have made enemies out of tens of millions of individuals that maybe we wouldn' t have made otherwise."

The article also points out that Johnson lacks some other qualities and interests that are likely important to the GOP rank and file: he isn't virulently anti-Obama, or pro-Tea Party or Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.'s Gary Johnson interview:

NEXT: Checking In With Osama bin Laden!

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  1. He may not have stated that he’s “pro-Tea Party” but I saw on April 15 in Tempe, AZ at the Tea Party tax day rally, so he must not be anti-Tea Party, at least.

    I mean, being anti-Party and speaking at a Tea Party rally would be more dangerous than being a Republican at Paul Wellstone’s funeral, I bet.

  2. Oh, and I’m glad Brian Doherty is reading Salon so I don’t have to. Yuck.

  3. If I *had* to vote for a Repub in a general election, it would either be Ron Paul or Gary Johnson.

    Pretty much the other 99.nigh-infinity of Republicans can themselves-fuck, though.

    1. themselves-fuck > methinks

  4. If Johnson and Paul both run in 2012, we’ll have TWO libertarians on stage handing those GOP dinosaurs their asses!!!


      1. Hey asshole, why should I have to pay for florine (sic) that I am not going to use? So my toilet can have sparkling white teeth?

  5. If Johnson and Paul both run in 2012, we’ll have TWO libertarians on stage handing those GOP dinosaurs their asses!!!

  6. If Johnson and Paul both run in 2012, we’ll have TWO libertarians on stage handing those GOP dinosaurs their asses in the debates

  7. If Johnson and Paul both run in 2012, we’ll have TWO libertarians on stage handing those GOP dinosaurs their asses in the debates

    1. It’s not that good of an idea.

    2. It’s not that good of an idea.

      1. Firefox is a tickle monster…*giggles*

        1. Firefox makes me taste things I don’t want to. It puts things in my hiney!

          1. Show us on the doll where the Senator touched you, Episarch. Go on, she can’t hurt you now.

            1. I think he got touched in Bolivia. That destination has all sorts of effects on it’s visitors.

              1. I have a friend, his name is Firefox. He showed me funny movies with furry naked people in them. He gives me juice boxes that make me sleepy.

                Don’t you idiots watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Why am I cursed with talking to people who don’t know what’s good on television?

                1. I don’t watch a lot of TV these days Epi. I am however, gaining a an appreciation for all the IASIP references from topical POV. Forgive my unworthiness…

                  1. Seriously, rent Always Sunny from Netflix. You won’t regret it.

                    1. I’m trying to keep up with Breaking Bad, bu this pesky thing called work seems to get in the way.

                    2. Dude, I work 10-12 hours a day, plus weekends. And I still won’t miss an episode of Always Sunny.

                    3. Despite being on call, I concede your point. I shall make it so. However, if doesn’t live up to your hype, there shall be hell to pay. Hell I tell you!

                      And there will be a curiously empty where your right kidney coincidentally resides. You have been warned.

      2. You can set up any ol’ script, and she will just chug it down, Firefox is a indiscriminate whore that doesn’t spit. In other words, my kind of gal.

        1. I dunno, I hear Chrome is easy and fast.

          1. You like it? I’m thinking of switching. Firefox has been crashing a lot lately, and is occasionally really sloooooooowww.

            1. Actually, no. There’s no working Flash blocker (the existing addins for this only work on some sites, which is like a condom with only some small holes in it) and there’s still no way to set it up to clear ALL accumulated state when quitting the browser. Being somewhat paranoid I’ll stick with Firefox and a slightly more permissive than default NoScript configuration.

          2. Oh, she certainly is, but she is breezy, and her, shall we say, skills, are light weight compared to an old tramp of the trade like FireFox (nee Mozilla), but still, fun in a pinch when the old gal is not up to the task.

          3. Chrome is fast. J like fast. But the Reason squirrel hasn’t figured how to make it play video or refresh.

          4. I’ve been using Cometbird lately. It loads fast on my way overtaxed (or is it over-tasked?) computer at work.

        2. Oh, she certainly is, but she is breezy, and her, shall we say, skills, are light weight compared to an old tramp of the trade like FireFox (nee Mozilla), but still, fun in a pinch when the old gal is not up to the task.

          1. Is Reason acting weird for you, I see you have double posted.

            1. Yeah, it has tonight. Every now and then the window will just crap out. This has happened in the middle of submissions too.

              1. Then you hit refresh, and blammo! you are now a dreaded “double poster”.

                Hey Reason, why don’t you just tattoo a number on my arm or make me wear a gold star?
                Yeah, it is that bad.

                1. The editors know that even if I get the blame for their screw up this time, it would still be just given the shit I’ve pulled that I got away with Scot free.

                  I do recall a headline on my favorite geek site BluesNews, ‘Will Your Internet Go Down on May 5?’ about a week ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother to read it. I just had a little trouble with Warty’s link below, so even Reason might not be the culprit tonight.

                  1. Here is a link.

                    What does:
                    The editors know that even if I get the blame for their screw up this time, it would still be just given the shit I’ve pulled that I got away with Scot free.

                    Am I missing something, or are there a lot of typos?

                    1. I think the slightly anachronistic usage may be the problem — read it this way —

                      The editors know that even if I get the blame for their screw up this time, it would still be just that I get the blame given the shit I’ve pulled and gotten away with Scot free.

                    2. Nope, I just totally retarded out and misread “just” as not relating to ‘justice’, but rather as ‘only’.

                    3. Commas after just and pulled would have fixed that sentence.

                    4. You know how I feel about commas. They should either be placed like a random dart or placed according to cytological value in relation to Milton Friedman’s name depending on whether I am feeling anarco-capitalist or minarchist on any given day.

                      Oh, and thanks for that link.

                    5. Okay, that was totaly on Firefox, not accepting a perfectly good word.

                      cryptological, damn it!

    3. haha, wow. Sorry

      Computer problem-the screen wouldn’t load so I kept pressing ‘submit’

      1. South America is noted for it’s excellent tech support…

  8. Gary Johnson is running for President 2012, staring with the Republican nomination.

    1. Here’s to hoping, Bill!
      I just hope it turns out better than the last time a libertarian ran.

    2. Gary Johnson is running for President 2012, staring with the Republican nomination.

      Who will blink first?

  9. Whether he runs for office or not in the next few years, Gary Johnson is emerging as a spokesman for libertarian views in politics.

    On abortion and immigration, his position is more like the position most libertarians hold than is the case with Ron Paul. And Gary Johnson does not have some of the problems Paul has.

    Gov. Johnson’s positions on immigration and abortion should help keep questionable “right-wing” elements away from his campaign.

    1. “A 10-foot wall [just] requires an 11-foot ladder.”

      Ugh, I hate this argument. It’s like saying that since a determined burglar can still get into your locked, alarmed, well-lit, Neighborhood-Watched house, you might as well not bother to close the doors and windows or stop the mail and newspaper when you go on vacation. The flaw here is that we do not live in a world of pure logic and Platonic shapes, but in a world where human behaviors are routinely made less common by making them more difficult to do.

      1. Sorry, you hate this argument. It’s a pretty good one.

      2. With an alarm system, you personally are responsible for funding that. With a 2000+ mile wall on the border, I’d rather take back my taxes allocated to that.

        1. Yeah, if you really want a wall that works, you just need to enforce the existing employment laws. That virtual wall would remove any incentive to scale your physical wall. Apparently all the existing laws do right now is make it a pain in the ass for anyone who is a citizen but is too disorganized to have multiple pieces of government ID available. Apparently if you are an illegal this is no hurdle.

          But the point remains, if you are willing to travel thousands of miles to a country with a language that you do not speak with unsavory elements making your dangerous travel arrangements and live in an underground, illegal status where you are likely to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers… then probably a fence is not a very big deterrent.

          1. Except that we have real-world experience that contradicts that: areas of the border where the fence has been completed see drops in crossings.

            1. Sure, it’s easier to cross where there isn’t any fence. But what if it’s all fenced? do you really think overall imiigration would drop?

  10. If Ron Paul ran, would the racist newsletters come up? Is an intelligent libertarian an oxymoron? Has Governor Johnson sucked Ron paul’s cock? Just some questions to think about when you consider Johnson or Ron Paul as a libertarian candidate.

    1. I looked at your recommendations for Jambalaya, Max. Not bad, but could be better. This is what I do, and it is no longer really a Jambalaya. Instead of that shitty ‘creole’ seasoning you find in the spice section that taste like metal, dehydrate a yellow union, grind it into a powder, and mix it with two tablespoons of paprika, and a half teaspoon of salt. Works with either seafood based or game bird base dishes.

      1. dehydrate a yellow union, grind it into a powder,
        Hmm, an onion would probably be tastier than a Teamster, but then again, I bet they baste up real nicely like a lamb never allowed to move in its first two years of life.

        1. Lambs are under 1 year old.

      2. I’ve got an anti-Semitic beef stew recipe here somewhere…

        1. What?!? That is not anti-Creole, given 1) it is a complaint about the quality of commercial product bearing the name, and 2) those are my peeps.

          But if you find that anti-Semitic recipe, share. Does it have pork? Bet it has pork, mmmm . . .

    2. Max|5.5.10 @ 10:17PM|#
      “Has Governor Johnson sucked Ron paul’s cock?”

      Has Max been ‘promoted’ from kindergarten? Has Max learned not to eat his own crap? Has Max figgered out not to hold his mouth open and stare upwards during a storm? Has Max recovered from his introduction to reality? Just some questions to ask when you think about Max as a sentient human being.

      1. Max is an entity that feeds on your hate. Offer him LOVE in return. He will either die from not getting his dose of hate fed back to him, or he will be transfigured into a better person.

        1. Illogical Capt. Max is by definition a parasite and thus is exacerbating a negative emotional condition harmful to the being exuding it. The logical approach would be to avoid Max altogether so the detrimental entity achieves the necessary result of expiration than the less likelihood of conversion to a being of a vague and subjective nature.

          But then again Capt, I am a Vulcan and not constrained by emotion.

          1. Or… I coul’ toss the sassanack intae the warp core, Cap’n…the choob woul’ ne’er see it comin’.

            1. AIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

            2. Scotty just melted the translator. We are fuckin’ doomed.

  11. I love reading through the comments on articles like this (on the Salon site). For all libertarians get accused of “rigid ideological orthodoxy,” I’ve yet to see anyone more ideologically rigid than your standard Salon / Washington Post reader. (Well, aside from your standard Indy Weekly rag editors – natch.)

    Johnson, like every bona fide libertarian running on a Republican ticket before him, just isn’t ideologically “pure” enough. Sure, he’s better on social issues than 90% of Democrats in office. But – horror of horrors – he wants to cut spending! It’s all a ruse! There’s no way he could possibly truly hold both positions, therefore he’s a crypto-conservative!

    It was the same way in NC when B.J. Lawson went up against entrenched Democrat David Price – who, despite being awful by most metrics, and Lawson being far more credible on foreign policy and social issues – still just couldn’t manage to pry even the slightest bit of honest reckoning from local liberals (particularly, the local indy rag, despite even acknowledging the fact that much of Lawson’s libertarian platform had more in common with them than Price).

    And hence why we’ll never see honest libertarians elected. Because the real rigid partisan (and ideological) orthodoxy is in the people who are constantly decrying it from everyone else.

    1. I didn’t read all of the comments, but of the ones that I read most were supportive of the former governor.

      “Will from Atlanta”, though is batshit crazy, though.

      1. Keep reading. There’s a good number of rather hostile comments while strike me as rather indicative of the drama that would eventually play out, and the same thing that happened to Ron Paul.

        1. *which, not while.

          1. Over at Freeper’s Playground, you can find that and more anti-libertarian, big-government-Republican tripe.

            It’s funny to read in tiny bites, but only sparingly.

        2. The local new mexican liberal is the same way. Anytime Johnson comes up, its all about the prisons and the schools. And on the schools, there is no question that Governor Johnson did the right thing, but he got defeated. But the other 90% doesnt matter, because he favored privatizing stuff.

          1. How do you mean he got defeated? Did he propose something that didn’t pass, or did he propose something that passed but got gutted or something?

    2. A libertarian Republican isn’t going to get the support of committed leftists because of his views of foreign policy and personal liberties.

      He may, however, be able to compete for average voters who might be attracted to a “leftish” candidate.

    3. But where does that ideologic orthodoxy come from? Was it just a random fluctuation that self-reinforced until it coalesced into 2 centers, heedless of its random origin?

      As close as I’ve been able to figure so far, one of the 2 ideologies came from social rxn against the population-decimating effect of the medieval plagues, and the other is simply its opposition formed by exclusion.

  12. Whenever a major publication calls a politician like Gov. Johnson “interesting” and then drags out the requisite expert to tell you that “his chances are zero”, what they’re really telling you is that you shouldn’t actually vote for him. After all if he had a non-zero chance, why not?

    But it’s just a freak show to them. Look! A politician with views that seem to be based on common sense and reality! We can’t have that in here, he might actually turn the election into something other than a biggest douchenozzle competition, and then we’d actually have to do real work instead of just slinging mud.

  13. Is this guy into UFOs, or am I thinking of someone else?

      1. Yeah, I think I was thinking of former New Mexico congressman Steven Schiff. Nevermind.

      2. QUISP! It’s been a long time! Good to hear from you.

        And – what Quisp said.

    1. Back in 1995, after Republicans took control of Congress, Rep Steve Schiff of New Mexico did hold hearings on UFOs.

      Steve Schiff is a Republican (no longer in Congress) but apparently no relation to Peter Schiff.

  14. Too bad most “small government voters” are Christians that don’t like abortion.
    Johnson could likely draw more third party votes than Barr but,based on that Salon profile, he won’t do nearly as well as Ron Paul in the GOP Primary

    1. It doesn’t matter in this case. All he needs to say is that it’s a matter for the states – which it is, if the Supremes didn’t have their heads buried up the back nine – and the pro-lifers will hear their dog whistle.

    2. I wouldn’t put much stock in a Salon profile. I predict this guy could do a lot better than Ron Paul did.

      As long as he lacks the ASDM (Auto-Self-Destruct Mechanism) that seems to be built into most libertarian politicians (Ron Paul proved his ASDM is working just fine).

      1. Care to make a wager?

  15. I think this echoes my theory that we are accelerating to a political singularity.

    it seems we are switching parties at an accelerated rate. The left are soon to loose some power in Washington come this November yet still in power they are looking googoo eyed at libertarians like everyone party out of power does.

    Anyone remember KOS and his “Libertarian Democrats”?

    The singularity is near and if history tells us anything it will be a fucking disaster and libertarians will be shoved out of it yet blamed for it.

    1. You mean all seven of us are going to get blamed?

  16. You know what we need? More naked boobs accompanied by Lockean philosophy. NSFW, obviously, you blithering catrapists.

    1. God bless those girls!

      I would work in a joeism like ‘working some of the most sexist copy desk on Fleet Street’, but that would undermine the blessings.

    2. That must be the best link on the internet.

      Also, everyone knows there’s a hyphen in “cat-rapist”

  17. Wow, actually makes sense when you think about it.


  18. Wow ,that actually makes sense when you think about it.


  19. His chances are zero,” political analyst Stu Rothenberg says via e-mail. “I’d say that they are less than zero, if there was such a thing. I’d expect his impact to be nonexistent.”

    He’d get murdered in any primary. Which makes him a libertarian wet dream.

    That assessment may prove correct, but it’s also worth remembering that the same things were said a few years ago about an obscure Texas congressman named Ron Paul…..

    Another Libertarian wet dream. Which would you prefer, him getting the nomination and losing by a margin which makes Goldwater look good, or losing it easily showing the political impotence of the libertarian movement?

    1. The libertarian movement will only develop by running strong candidates.

      There are 15% to 20% of voters who have generally libertarian views. I think Gary Johnson can appeal to them.

      If they vote in the Republican primary, that could be a majority. More importantly, it could easily be a plurality.

      I certainly see no benefit to not running so that we can pretend that we are more potent that we really are.

      I don’t agree that if Johnson wins the nomination he will make Goldwater’s loss look good. But even if he does half as well as Goldwater, it will do wonders for the libertarian movement.

      We will just need to wait for our Reagan.

    2. Which would you prefer, him getting the nomination and losing by a margin which makes Goldwater look good, or losing it easily showing the political impotence of the libertarian movement?

      If his loss showed the “political impotence” of the libertarian movement, well, like it or not, the will of the American voters will have been voiced, ie, most don’t really care for libertarian givernment.

      1. Most don’t really care for any “-ian” gov’t, but that’s what they get out of the choices presented to them by the political process, which is of course dominated by those who care the most about it.

    3. Him getting the nomination then losing would be bad for Republicans but good for libertarians. Him showing well but not getting the nomination would be good for libertarians but bad for social conservatives. A weak showing is the status quo – as long as he does as well as Paul in 2008 we reap a benefit. Anything that shows there are enough libertarian votes to impact a Republican presidential primary provides us with leverage over the GOP policy agenda, and leverage over a major party policy agenda is the most effective way to push our issues in the short term.

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  21. The pro life element of the Republican Party is one of the few political groups in this country who both vote and actually principally believe in something. No pro abortion candidate is getting the Republican nomination. It is not happening.

    And as far as Johnson being a libertarian, yes and no. I don’t think saying women should be able to kill their children at their convenience is very libertarian. It makes him more of a libertine than a libertarian.

    1. Libertarianism is not decided on one issue.

      Im anti-abortion. Im a libertarian. Plenty of libertarian favor legal abortion. Its just one issue.

      Any reasonable big tent libertarianism includes Johnson. Anyone who says otherwise is a moron.

      1. John has proven himself to be more of a Republican (i.e. moron) than libertarian. A fetus is not a child. It’s really as simple as that.

        1. A fetus is not a child, even though it is viable outside the womb at like four months these days, feels pain, and reacts to stimulation.

          It is just common sense. If you are a jackass.

          1. Both personhood and murder are defined legally. Neither can be defined scientifically or by “common sense.”

            1. If personhood can’t be defined scientifically, then exactly how can science determine the most suitable climate for an undefined entity of “persons”?

    2. I don’t know. A principled libertarian argument could be made that what is in your body is yours to control absolutely. And saying “women should be able to kill their children at their convenience” is a ridiculous hyperbole and clearly not what anyone believes.
      People are never going to agree on this, so I think it ought to be considered one of those issues that libertarianism has little to say about.

  22. A lot of gratuitous GOP-bashing by some. Yet invariably, when a non-LP libertarian runs for, or more importantly, actually wins, election to an office of some importance, it is usually under the banner of the GOP (see: Ron Paul. See also: Gary Johnson.)

    Worth noting for the knee-jerk Republican bashers.

    Here’s hoping Johnson runs… as a Republican. His only reasonable shot of actually becoming Prez.

    1. You do realize we think libertarians are ridiculous suckers, don’t you?

      But thanks for the economic platitudes guys! They’ve been really helpful as an excuse in our mission to rape the country with Jesus’s dick.

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