A Pragmatic Champion of Liberty

Gary Johnson's cross-political appeal will help both the country and the liberty movement.


Independent voters hankering for a genuine alternative to Barack Lyndon Roosevelt Obama on the left and Fox News flunkies on the right might have their man. No, it's not Ron Paul, the Texas Republican Congressman who electrified them last election cycle. It is arguably someone better: the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson.

Johnson, who became the first to declare his candidacy for the Republican nomination, is the most consistently pro-liberty Republican or Democratic candidate in living memory. Like Paul, he is anti-war, anti-big government, and pro-civil liberties. But unlike Paul, he is pro-choice (except for late-term abortions), pro-immigration, pro-trade, and untainted by bizarre conspiracy theories that NAFTA, and a highway running through Mexico, America, and Canada, is a prelude to the dissolution of the North American borders. Nor does he have Paul's racist newsletter baggage. His signature issues are not abolishing the Fed or returning to the gold standard. Rather, it is avoiding the impending financial collapse by cutting government spending on everything by 43 percent—Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense—a plan bolder than any that either party has proffered. No political candidate is ever perfect. But Paul has fundamental flaws that Johnson does not. There is no issue on which Johnson is less pro-liberty than any other politician and the vast bulk on which he is significantly more pro-liberty. Paul, however, is far less pro-liberty than even a lot of Republicans on trade and immigration.

Thus unless Johnson misspells "potatoe" or finds some other way to self immolate, his message of common-sense free-market economic conservatism and social liberalism might do the country a world of good, win or lose.

(Article continues below the video "Former NM Gov. Gary Johnson's Vision for a Truly Free America.")

Not that he is accustomed to losing (or misspelling). A fitness fanatic who has participated in five Ironman triathlons, he defied all odds to win the New Mexico governor's race in 1994 as a 42-year-old political virgin never having run for office. He twice defeated his Democratic opponent by 10 points in a state that is two-to-one Democratic. He funded his first campaign from his own fortune acquired when he sold for $38 million his construction company, which he started with one person: himself.

But more impressive than winning office is what he did in it. A fiscal hawk, he slashed government spending, something that none of the other governors leading the pack of GOP hopefuls have done. Mitt Romney destroyed his own fiscal legacy by enacting a universal health coverage program that is now devouring the Bay State's budget. And Sarah Palin, notwithstanding her fairy-tales, presided over a 31 percent spending hike. By contrast, Johnson cut the 10 percent annual growth his state budget had been experiencing in half. He vetoed 750 bills, a third of them Republican, privatized government services and trimmed public-sector employee rosters. He lowered taxes and still exited with a tidy budget surplus.

None of this is to deny that his candidacy faces Mt. Everest-high impediments (a mountain that, incidentally, Johnson has climbed). He has little name recognition and no money. That might change if he makes a serious showing in the first few primaries. But that'll be difficult given that the GOP's primary process is stacked against anti-establishment candidates like him who refuse to pay obeisance to agricultural subsidies in Iowa, the site of the first contest. His strategy is to win New Hampshire where his pro-liberty message has more resonance.

The issue, however, is whether he can sell this message.

His hope is that his economic conservatism and social liberalism will have cross-political appeal. But the flip side is that it will also generate cross-political hostility. Liberals, whose beloved entitlement programs would face major cuts under him, won't take things lying down. Indeed, they have already started digging up dirt and attacking his opposition to child labor laws. Meanwhile, anti-immigration conservatives too have declared him unfit for office because he supports a guest worker program and opposes deportation.

Ron Paul doesn't have to contend with conservative hostility because he makes no pretense of being a social liberal and routinely flirts with questionable causes popular with his Texas base. But Johnson is no populist. His strategy is to make pragmatic arguments for liberty. Thus he defends his embrace of immigration and opposition to the war on drugs, not on first principles but on fiscal grounds. He doesn't issue lectures on the importance of open borders to individual liberty. Or offer disquisitions on "your life, your choice" to defend drug use. Rather, he appeals to voters' common-sense, first and foremost. As governor, he tackled the illegal immigration issue by demonstrating that illegals pay more in state taxes than they consume in services. Likewise, he emphasizes how the drug war sucks up massive law enforcement dollars without reducing use.

This is a savvy approach because it allows him to be more pro-liberty on more issues and reach more people, especially independents for whom putting America's fiscal house in order is a top priority. According to David Kirby of the Cato Institute, liberty-minded independents are already about 15 percent of voters, big enough to swing a general election. Johnson's message could grow that number.

America is facing an unprecedented economic crisis that will require tough choices. It needs candidates who offer honest and principled solutions that demonstrate that pro-liberty policies are not a moral luxury but a practical necessity. Johnson is the only such candidate. Win or lose, so long as he makes himself heard, he'll push the national conversation in the right direction.

Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation and a columnist for The Daily, America's first iPad newspaper, where this column originally appeared.

NEXT: Jeffrey Miron on "Entitlements, Entitlements, Entitlements"

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  1. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. I wonder what it will be.

    1. Gary needs a new pair of shoes:


  2. Digging up dirt as we speak…

    Hopefully Team Red will help us out with the heavy lifting. What am I saying, of course they will!

  3. As much as I like what Ron Paul’s done for the movement, he won’t be able to sell himself on executive experience, which I think voters will have a demand for when they’re intending to vote against Obama.

    1. This is the only justifiable support of Johnson over Paul, that he’s more nationally electable. And obviates the desire for a Johnson/Paul ticket.

      1. Paul proved to me that he’s go no shot during his appearance on Stossel. He was right on just about everything. But he was clearly not the President of the United States. An actor mouthing the words of Obama in a performance designed to make Paul look good was clearly more “presidential” than Ron Paul.

        You put the two of them on the stage together and he doesn’t stand a chance. He couldn’t even get past Giuliani in a debate. Being right on the facts doesn’t help if you lose the superficial contest. Just ask Nixon about a telegenic opponent.

        1. Read the old descriptions of Jefferson. Soft-spoken, shy on words, possibly a stutterer… A pretty good precedent for Paul, considering.

          1. Yep. If there were televised coverage of debates back then, he’d have been marginalized. And we’d all be worse off.

            That’s why it was so disheartening to see Paul bunt when Stossel set the ball up on a tee for him.

            Eh, what do I know? He’s won how many elections in his life? I think he knows more about what it takes than I do. But I still didn’t see the guy who’s going to dismantle “President Rorschach”.

        2. Is your argument against Ron Paul, seriously, that he is not “Presidential”. The last thing we need are more “Presidential” Presidents. That’s what we’re stuck with – principles are okay, but what we really need is a cool figurehead.

          1. It’s stupid but it’s a reason that people use (usually subconsciously) to make their decision at the ballot.

          2. I think he wants someone who can win a presidential election.

            1. I could have my facts messed up, but, I seem to remember that the average height in the U.S. Senate is something on the order of 6’2″. That says something about how physical appearance plays into voter decisions.

        3. That lame ass segment with the Obama impersonator was just painful to watch. I can’t believe Paul went along with it.

      2. And the pro-choice thing. And the free trade thing. Those reasons too, right?

        1. What about the pro-intervention and pro-Gitmo thingies?

          1. yeah, those are bad.

          2. what thingies are those? Oh you mean the quotes that the Lew Rockwell world took out of context and blew up to the point where they portrayed Johnson as a blood-dripping-from-his-fangs international war monster? Those thingies that no one with two firing brain cells would buy in to if they’ve done any research on Johnson?

            1. Out of context? Did you watch his interview on Freedom Watch?

              What he says in that interview about Guantanamo explicitly shows that he does not understand the issue at all. He says if we didn’t indefinitely detain “enemy combatants” without trial at Gitmo then we’d “have to” do it somewhere else, so we might as well leave Gitmo open. That’s just fucking retarded and anti-liberty, sorry.

              When questioned about the Federal Reserve, he shows that he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about on that issue either.

              1. There are people who are currently being held in Gitmo. Johnson’s position is that they should be tried “in a court where innocence is presumed”, and that after these people are tried, Gitmo should be closed. The policy that led to the creation of Gitmo in the first place (declaring people enemy combatants and indefinitely detaining them without charge) is the real problem, and it is a policy that Johnson opposes.

                Maybe “out of context” wasn’t the right term, more “not enough time to explain his full position”.

              2. Maybe you should check his website again genius:

                1. No criminal or terrorist suspect captured by the U.S. should be subject to physical or psychological torture.

                2. ndividuals incarcerated unjustly by the U.S. should have the ability to seek compensation through the courts.

                3. Individuals detained by the U.S., whether it be at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, must be given due process via the courts or military tribunals, and must not be held indefinitely without regard to those fundamental processes.

    2. so being a congressman for 11 terms doesn’t provide executive experience? Might I remind you Ron Paul runs a very tight office and returns a portion of his budget back to the treasury every year. I believe this year it was 140,000, and you can google that.

      1. No it doesn’t. That’s legislative or parliamentary experience. That’s an entirely different job.

  4. Johnson – the intelligent person’s Ron Paul.

    1. Off the top of their respective heads, without the aid of a teleprompter, which guy, RP or Johnson, can give a better, more informed dissertation on Austrian economics?

      1. Or Obama?

      2. And how many primary voters care about the answer to this question?

        1. You know who else was Austrian (I think)?

          1. Arnold Swarzennegger?

          2. Wieners?

            1. Just the little ones.

              1. Wien is the German word for Vienna. Hence, a wiener is something or someone from Vienna, Austria.

                1. Ja, und Ich bin ein Berliner.

                  1. Ich bin ein Weiner!

                    1. What about vagabonds from Vienna?

          3. Julius Wechter and the Baja Marimba Band?

      3. Austrian economics would only scare most right-wing voters as somehow European fancy-pants Bilderberg/Davos stuff.

        If the Beckerhead can’t explain it in one segment then it won’t sell.

        Are you trying to doom the guy?

      4. Who cares? The voters surely don’t.

      5. So make him Secretary of the Treasury in a Johnson Administration. But it’s got nothing to do with Paul’s chops for the Presidency

      6. Johnson does a fine job of covering the basics, but Paul of course has been studying and writing on the subject since the 1970s.


    2. How would you have any idea what an intelligent person would do, shriek?

    3. shrike, Tony, MNG, Max OhioOrrin, Rather…

    4. He would be great debating Joe Biden.

    5. hahah, that is funny. I appreciate your humor.

    6. Johnson – the wishy washy, compromiser’s, “pragmatist’s” Ron Paul.

      No thanks.

  5. From the WSJ last August:

    Q: Isn’t the true libertarian position to support gay marriage?
    A: I’ve taken the position that I support gay unions.
    Q: Why not marriage? What’s the difference?
    A: Right or wrong, that’s what I’m advocating.


    1. The state has no business in marriage. To argue otherwise is insanity.

      1. I agree. But the “Right or wrong, that’s what I’m advocating” justification is absurd.

        1. Agreed. Of course it is and you are right to call him on that. I have more respect for William Jefferson Clinton’s asseveration that he “did not inhale” than Johnson’s lame and evasive statement.

          1. The state does have a role in enforcing contract rights. Marriage is a contract. Of course, the state goes way beyond it’s legitimate role.

            1. When they start acknowledging wedding vows as binding oral contracts you will have a point.

              Okay, they kind of did as one time, but in the days of no fault divorce, they arent.

              And, of course, you can enforce contracts without licensing.

              1. Ever hear of a marriage license? It’s a written contract.

                1. Faux point. Try to file a suit and let me know how that works out for you.

          2. Yeah, you’re right, let’s just vote for Obama or Huckabee/Romney/Palin/etc.
            Jesus Christ! You libertarian purists kill me. Answering questions about social issues is always a dance that any politician has to do. The social issues do not matter at this point. Our country is about to crumble fiscally. Once the country is back in fiscal order, then we can care about gay marriage.

            1. ^^^THIS. Yeah that was a lameass response by Johnson, but RP is still so much worse on social issues. He gets a pass on that because he indulges the Cult of Non-interventionism.

              1. I’d say Johnson is better than Paul, with what little I’ve heard of him. Now let’s try to find someone better than Johnson.

                1. 50% rule

            2. How about you let everyone decide for themselves what they deem most important?

              Johnson is unreliable because he’s too concerned with being seen as a “pragmatist”. The problem with this is not that he merely says it. The problem is that he has a convenient excuse when he turns out to be a fraud. After all, he wasn’t exactly forward on a couple of these issues, right?

              So no, let’s not vote for big government types OR wishy washy pragmatist types. You can vote for Ron Paul. If you don’t, then stop whining because liberty is obviously NOT your concern.

        2. I think he is saying it is an answer that he can support politically while perhaps not entirely aligned with his own values or beliefs. I think he is being more honest that your typical politician.

    2. At least he does not seem to be blatantly homophobic like many Republican candidates. IF that is the WORST someone can dig up on his, not bad.

      I like Ron Paul, I respect him. But I also agree that the newsletter baggage might doom him. ESPECIALLY if he wins the nomination and is running against the first black president in history.

      This evasive asnwser is less postentially dooming.

      1. I agree. The newsletter thing alone is enough to make Paul unelectable against Obama.

        But there’s also the the age thing, and the wonkishness, and the fact that he just comes across as a bit goofy.

        Johnson fucking climbed Mt. Everest. How do you top that?

        1. By competing in five ironman competitions:

          “2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike and a marathon (26.2 miles 42.195 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race.”


          1. Ron Paul did this when?

            1. Hey, i ate 100 bratwursts in one sitting a few years back.

              How about electing me president?

    3. Even the best politician is still a politician. You don’t get elected without pandering a bit to someone.

      1. Is Johnson pandering when he says he would not close Gitmo?

        1. I don’t think he had time to fully explain his position during that rapid-fire Q and A session – Here’s Johnson’s position from his web site (http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/issues/foreign-policy):

          AMERICA CAN USE ‘SOFT POWER’ AS EFFECTIVELY as ‘hard power’ to further our foreign policy goals.

          -No criminal or terrorist suspect captured by the U.S. should be subject to physical or psychological torture.

          -Individuals incarcerated unjustly by the U.S. should have the ability to seek compensation through the courts.

          -Individuals detained by the U.S., whether it be at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, must be given due process via the courts or military tribunals, and must not be held indefinitely without regard to those fundamental processes.

          1. Which is in direct contrast to what he said earlier. If he’s taking up the pro-liberty position now, it’s only because he just figured out what that is. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume that NOW he’s in favor of closing Gitmo.

            1. Not really – he thinks that Gitmo should stay open until the prisoners there are tried (with no new prisoners being added to the roster) and closed when the current occupants have vacated. Again, super short Q and A segments aren’t the best place to hash out the complexities of mopping up the legal mess that is Guantanamo.

          2. Because as we all know, the military tribunals are there to serve truth and justice, not Washington, right?

            Let me see: the wars are illegal, yet Gary Johnson feels that the people at Gitmo that would never be there if not for the illegal wars and invasions, should still be tried in military tribunals.

            How about the military ITSELF is up for trial in military tribunals?

            Furthermore, Johnson is still for government monopoly as he doesn’t want to abolish the fed.

            He is, in effect, the beltway fauxbertarian’s candidate.

        2. The death of bin Laden may change the political calculus on Gitmo.

    4. I think what he’s doing here is trying to articulate the difference between a union and marriage. A union being a sort of social contract enforced by the state, and a marriage being a non-legally binding personal commitment. So when I read this exchange I interpret it as “The state has business in enforcing contracts, but no business in enforcing marital vows”.

      1. Hell of a dissection, sir. Kudos and a lollipop.

      2. I read it as, “Oh, hell no, I’m not gonna say ‘gay marriage’ so that becomes the scare quote in attack ads.”

        1. And I think therein lies the problem. “Gay Marriage” means different things to different people. Liberals see the State not recognizing gay marriage as a civil rights issue insofar as the state is not willing to enforce the ‘partnership contract’ between two people because of their sexual orientation. Conservatives tend see it as an attack on their preconception of what marriage “ought” to be. So when the media throws the term “Gay Marriage” around, they’re really talking about two completely different things, which our current Government, or even our society at large, is somehow unable or unwilling to understand.

        2. Yep, lol.

          And it’s a good example of why he’s got a real shot, and Ron Paul does not.

  6. Gary Johnson is right!

  7. No such thing as a “moral luxury,” sweetcakes. Either you have the principles or you don’t–and morals MUST undergird them all. Hyping Johnson is a worthy endeavor, and if he gets the nod, we are far the better nation for it. But slashing away at the only other candidate worth considering–Paul–weakens your credibility dramatically. Future rips take you out of the debate entirely, so concentrate on making people understand why the basis of the two men’s politics (libertarianism) makes them vastly superior to ANY other GOP contender. There is no harm whatsoever in endorsing Johnson, and a great deal of good that can come of it. But you will always lose by denigrating the Paul campaign.

    1. That’s pretty fair. But there’s also the truth of the “split vote”.

      Suppose for the sake of argument that the early rounds of the Republican primaries have 25% of the vote available for a true libertarian candidate. With only Paul in the race, he gets most of that – 19% – and finishes 4th. With only Johnson in the race he gets 15%, finishing 5th. (just enough to stay in the race)

      With both in the race, Paul gets 12% and Johnson gets 7%. Neither makes the splash they need and they are done by the 4th primary.

      This is what they are afraid of….

      1. Suppose for the sake of argument that the early rounds of the Republican primaries have 25% of the vote available for a true libertarian candidate.

        And suppose unicorns start farting rainbows.

        Do you really think this country is going to elect someone who is mostly for liberty?

        Just vote for the person who you think is the best, and quit with the bullshit horse-race stuff. If you want “electable”, Obama is your man. If you want “non-odious and not a pathological liar”, then vote for someone unelectable.

      2. What’s the true libertarian candidate doing in a Republican primary??

        1. Actually getting noticed.

      3. the vote available for a true libertarian candidate.

        Your analysis is wrong because effectively that number is very small. I don’t think many primary voters vote on the basis of ideology. The more libertarian candidates in the race, the more votes there will be for libertarian candidates, for whatever reason people vote for them.

    2. Agreed

    3. You could say the same thing about Raimondo and Rockwell slashing away at Johnson.

      1. Raimondo is Raimondo, he’s (mostly) ‘single issue’ and has boosted both Nader and Buchanan over imperfect ‘electable’ candidtates because of it.
        Rockwell owes Paul big time for not throwing him under the bus over the newsletters for sure.
        If there’s a silver lining it’s that their combined readership is … well, small. So damage to Johnson is really limited among the GOP and general undecideds.

    4. Nobody’s ripping Paul’s record or principals. We’re just sceptical of his electability.

    5. My perception is that those saying they prefer Johnson to Paul in these comments are just stating what seems to now be a fair conclusion to draw: Libertarians need to think about how electable the candidate they promote is.
      While Paul represents a principled, disciplined thinker on lots of the issues we care about, his track record doesn’t indicate that he has a decent shot at coming home with the nomination.

  8. “A pragmatic champion of liberty”?

    How about one prepared to implement a final solution for statists?

    1. Do you refer to THE ‘final solution?’

      1. For the statists in our midst, it will surely be THE final solution.

        1. I was actually hoping for a sort of political ‘Zyklon B’ to give the statists, sigh.

  9. Ron Paul a populist? LOL
    OTOH he did win TownHall’s last straw poll, Johnson didn’t crack 1%.
    Make no mistake, i like Johnson and feel he will push the debate and maybe the platform in the right direction.
    Are you saying the public is too stupid for ‘1st principle’ arguments, or that Ron never makes ‘practical’ ones.
    Or is Gary simply a better choice cause Cosmotarians still find Paul icky and teh Kochtopus loves it some Fed?

    1. Or is Gary simply a better choice cause Cosmotarians still find Paul icky and teh Kochtopus loves it some Fed?

      Sometimes I wonder what planet some Paul supporters come from.

      1. Earth? (Or was there intended to have been sarcasm there which no intelligent human over the age of one would have noticed?)

      2. Neptune..
        Why you ask?

        I am still very, VERY upset that some beltway types decided to bring up the newsletters at just the right time .. last time.
        Granted, maybe in hindsight it’s better this way. The GOP showed it’s intellectual bankruptcy at the time and hopefully there will be a strong dissatisfaction still with Obama when it comes to crunch time.
        I consider myself a Paul supporter only so far as he’s really the only one you can point to. And he’s been true to it since i voted for him back in 88. Voted for Barr in the general last time over writing in Ron FWIW.

      3. In all seriousness one has to wonder if the Cosmos and more importantly their ‘patrons’ ultimatley DO want to keep the Fed in place.
        They love libertarianism, until it threatens their priviliges or regulatory capture.

        1. Personally, I think the bailouts proved that the Fed has to go. Monetarism could only work as long as a oxymoronic selfless objectivist like Alan Greenspan manned the helm. As soon as someone took over who had slightly less rigid principles, interest rates and Fed policy instantly started being manipulated to benefit the politically powerful and their connected friends.

          1. Selfless objectivist

            Congratulations, we now have something better than dividing by zero.

            I think the universe just exploded.

            1. Exactly. The only way for a centrally planned economy to work is if it is run by a genius who is also a saint.

              And the only way for a central bank to work, is it to be run by an incorruptible libertarian who believes that self-interest drives the economy, but won’t use any of his own in his own interest anyway.

              1. Sad as it is, the most likely candidate is very young, libertarian adult with a firm grounding in economics. Say… a 26-year old fresh out of grad school with a PHD in Financial/Domestic econ. Young enough to be idealistic, with enough education to know what he’s doing, and hopefully enough life experience not to fuck up massively.

              2. A genius who is a saint would know that s/he could not centrally plan the economy.

        2. I don’t know any “cosmotarians” who argue in favor of the Fed. Some may be skeptical of a Rothbard-style 100% reserve gold standard, but that’s not the same thing as being in favor of the Fed.

    2. Or the Kochtopus loves it some actual chance of winning the general election?

      1. I guess this gives a good counter to liberals screeching about the Koch’s limitless power. There was no President McCain.

        1. The Koch’s contributed billions to McCain? Why am I always the last to know?

          1. Reality is irrelevant.
            Said it before, ‘If the Koch’s didn’t exist, the left would have to invent them’.
            Off the top of my head, i have no idea where they spent their political dollars last time. But, they’re the corporate bogeyman du jour, so if the left’s loudmouths start sayin it…
            Oddly enough that’s about the only thing not explicitly mentioned in the New Yorker hit piece.

            1. So there is a Rule 34 for the left, then?

          2. You were one of the last to know that the government’s conspiracy theory just did not make sense.

  10. I’ll gladly vote for the guy, but I don’t see how he escapes “minor candidate” status in the GOP.

    Whatever you want to say about Ron Paul, he has effectively built a national constituency based largely on a liberty platform. I’m not sure anyone outside N.M. other than hardcore libertarians knows who Gary Johnson is, and that’s a problem for him.

    1. spread the word turd.

    2. This is the terrible thing about the electoral process: I can write in any candidate that I want, but the people who decide who goes on the general election ballot with a D or an R after their name (and thus the only realistic chance of winning) and I do not agree on what makes a good candidate. I get to pick between the two least offensive politicians running.

      1. Here in Ohio we get the party affiliation of each candidate on the ballot. Due to the court stopping the powers that be from excluding anything but an R or a D.

        1. Can we have this in every state and the presidential election? Please?

    3. Did you know who Howard Dean, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, John Kerry where before the primaries started?

      Just spread the word.

      1. No, no, yes, wasn’t born, yes.

    4. I’m not sure anyone outside N.M. other than hardcore libertarians knows who Gary Johnson is, and that’s a problem for him.

      It was a positive for CLinton in 1992. Name-recognition has both pros and cons. If everyone knows who you are, that means they’ve already formed an opinion. Being a nobody allows people to see whatever they want in you. Plus, they don’t have a head start digging up dirt on your past.

  11. The media will be sure to let us know why he can’t win. Repeatedly. During the first several weeks of the Republican primaries he’ll get no coverage other than “why he’s a marginal, can’t win candidate” – just like Ron Paul.

    Then, no matter the results in the first primaries, he’ll be officially declared done. And with no donors wanting to back a dead horse… he’ll pull out of the race.

    Then we can be sure to nominate a serious candidate. Probably someone who they can use the phrase “it is his turn” to describe. Someone unelectable. Like Dole. Like McCain. Like Bush… (hey, just because he won doesn’t mean he was electable. He ran against a blowhard eggplant. And whatever pejorative you’d call that pompous plank-of-wood Kerry.)

    Holly crap this country nominates a bunch of crappy candidates for president. Dukakis? Really? … Mondale/Ferraro? That was serious?

    1. The left-wing media might have to be removed from an effective platform this time around, using unsavory means if necessary. Since the opportunity exists for that frail species called ‘Liberty’ to re-assert herself, if the choice is left untainted by the power structure, we may have to ensure that she gets a fair chance. If certain voices have to be silenced to allow ‘the People’ to consider all sides of the question without constant leftist harping, then I for one am willing to engage in a little selective denial of the First Amendment. I put MSNBC and ‘The View’ in the first gate.

      1. I think you’re at the wrong site, bub. This is “Reason”, not “By Any Means Necessary”.

        1. All is well, go back to your comic books.

          1. Chris Christie could silence them with a good verbal beat down. That would be much more entertaining.

          2. Congratulations, you win the Internet Tuff Gai of the Day award. You can now go back to slowly polishing your pistol as you stare at Whoopi and Joy.

      2. Nothing better for the cause of liberty that silencing your opposition.

    2. whatever pejorative you’d call that pompous plank-of-wood Kerry.

      What’s a good, short phrase for a gold-digging son-in-law to a ketchup magnate?


      1. Pompouse a-hole should cover it.

  12. Ah, the article that launched a thousand Paulistinian flaming arrows across the bow of the good ship Johnson…

    This was linked on the Gary Johnson web site, and the Ron Paul Forums erupted in cries of “Traitor!” and “Splitter!”, assuming Johnson himself or one of his staffers wrote it… it’s like those people were waiting for an opportunity to be offended.

    As for those who say this article “smears” Paul, what in it is refutable? I love the guy but he does have the newsletter baggage (especially if he makes it through the primary!) as well as a history of feting the Infowars/fight the NWO/John Birch wing of the political world – during the last election cycle he had a deal with Alex Jones that he would be on the show at least once a week. These things don’t disqualify Paul from being a leading light in the libertarian intellectual community and a living embodiment of principle in the House, but they do disqualify him from being a serious presidential candidate.

    1. You also court permanent ireelevancy, here, son.

      1. ‘irrelevancy,’ even.

        1. I’d settle for irreverancy 🙂

          But seriously, if he’s going to expand past the ~10% he got in the last election cycle, how is he going to deal with the baggage that has never been satisfactorily resolved? I know that there are a lot of progressives/liberals out there who should be Ron Paul supporters (anti-war, anti-war on drugs, anti-corporate bailout folks) but aren’t because a bunch of negative connotations are floating around him. I’m not saying Paul deserves a bad reputation, but in politics, perception is reality, and his image has been pretty irrevocably damaged with a lot of voters.

          1. Dammit, I hate it when I have to concede the argument, but… you’re correct.

          2. I agree with your analysis (and, incidentally, also observed the Ron Paul shitstorm that resulted from Johnson posting the article on his Facebook account). Look, while Paul seems like a likeable guy, I ultimately supported him because of his message, not because of him personally. Given his baggage (regardless of his actual role in publishing the newsletters) and his age, I see Gary Johnson as a better horse to bet on. But the last thing we need is to turn this into some Paul/Johnson feud. I suspect that for those who viciously attack Johnson at the mere mention of Paul, he is nothing more than their libertarian Obama.

            1. Certainly, I hope there’s no Paul/Johnson feud but it sure looks like some of Paul’s supporters are doing their best to create one. Personally, I think both candidates can do well in this election cycle, even with both in the race. Paul’s candidacy will gain traction with defecting Huckabee/social conservative voters (he’s in favor of DOMA, pro-life, etc. – he’s their guy) and Johnson will pick up some percentage of typical Republican primary voters but will really benefit from bringing new people in to the primary process – in a primary where Democrats have nothing important to vote on, there’s a big opportunity for crossover voters.

              Let a thousand libertarian candidates bloom! I just think that Johnson’s growth potential is exponentially higher than Paul’s.

              1. More libertarian candidates good. Internecine fighting not so good.

              2. That notion about ‘growth potential’ is something to consider, as well. Success feeds on success. People see Paul and Johnson succeeding (tho’, at 75, this will surely be the Doctor’s last fight), and they join the liberty movement, hopefully leaving timidity behind.
                Johnson is young and vigorous, and, praying that he remains uncorrupted by Washington (a fine lesson to learn from Dr. Paul), can wave the banner for years to come, drawing many into his orbit.

            2. As long as the argument stays about which one is more electable, these’s no serious damage. You just don’t want to hand the Democrats something to run with in the general election.

          3. What newsletter baggage?

            I considered that settled circa 1996 (or was it 1998?).

            1. Mentioned it up above, but in 08 it coundn’t have helped considering it reared it’s head just in time for the NH primary.

    2. it’s like those people were waiting for an opportunity to be offended.

      Well duh!

  13. I’m not sure anyone outside N.M. other than hardcore libertarians knows who Gary Johnson is, and that’s a problem for him.

    Let his theme song be “I Smoked a Joint, and I Liked It” and he’ll quickly become well known.

    1. Clinton scored with that in 1992. And Gennifer Flowers.
      Scandels sometimes work.

  14. I’ll vote for either in the primaries, depending on how good their chances look.

  15. “Taxpayer funded abortions for some…taxed and regulated marijuana for others”

    1. Nice f’ng principles. Ron Paul in 2012!

    2. Forward, not backward, upward, not forward, and always twirling!

      1. Abortions for some, and little american flags for everyone!

  16. Hey, Johnson is a good guy, but quit taking pot shots at Ron Paul. Johnson can stand on his own, there’s no need to go after Paul, who is the only candidate up there also promoting liberty. I’d welcome a Paul/Johnson team, but I’ll be voting for Paul instead of Johnson this turn.

    1. Thanks James! I’m still undecided, but the pot shots should stop. LRC and the Mises Institute love that kind of stuff (and I love it when they do), but Reason’s place is different…

  17. I like Johnson but this is the wrong year for him. Paul has the Liberty vote and the strongest campaign organization in the GOP right now. Remember he never ended his “08” campaign. Johnson would be better off waiting until the next cycle.

    1. You sound like the Democrats here in Hawaii … “Patiently wait your turn until the other guy dies, because it’s just rude to push in line.”

      1. It’s not about being rude, it’s about being smart. The libertarian movement hasn’t spent the last four years keeping Paul’s army in reserve just to give it up and start all over again. That would just be stupid. If Paul wasn’t a player this year I would be supporting Johnson. Johnson is just shooting him self in the foot right now and that’s unfortunate.

        1. Yeah, because it would be horrible if there were two libertarians in the GOP primary. It’s a dangerous precedent, think of the terror that would ensue if there were a dozen libertarians running!

          No no no, we have to keep liberty limited to just one guy and his True Believers.

          1. Terror for the left, indeed.

          2. Haters gonna hate. Sycophant attack dogs get rabid.

          3. It would be horrible if the libertarian movement destroyed itself because people who don’t understand politics wanted to throw tantrums. This has nothing to do with Paul or Johnson. This is about not dividing your forces.

            1. Ummm, my primary is not for another WHOLE YEAR! I’ve got plenty of time before I have to pick sides and start insulting the parentage of those who pick differently.

            2. Or it could be about uniting them behind someone who can actually win the general election, instead of making yet another symbolic statement.

    2. Although, some candidates use an initial run to build a base for the next time around.

  18. A fiscal hawk, he slashed government spending … Johnson cut the 10 percent annual growth his state budget had been experiencing in half.

    Increasing spending by 5% a year is not slashing gov’t spending.

    1. Good catch, sir.

    2. But it’s not a bad start

    3. It might be when adjusted for population growth and inflation. I think that New Mexico has had a lot of population growth recently.
      Of course, cutting government spending in an absolute sense would be better, but keeping increases at or below the rate of population growth is a good start.

      1. My point was that a post at Reason shouldn’t use the MSM media bullshit of “he’s gonna SLASH spending” when spending is increasing. Call it what it is.

      2. It might be when adjusted for population growth and inflation.


        [insert appropriate futurama image here]

    4. I believe that reduction was in the first six months of his term. Given that much of that growth would be structural, it would take “slashing” wherever possible to make that kind of a dent.

      When Johnson left office, New Mexico had a $1 billion budget surplus.

  19. Another aspect of the fight to consider is that neither of these men, Dr. Paul OR Mr. Johnson, may make the GOP nod, let alone the next presidency.
    Okay, fine.
    But their immense popularity and the fact that the message they endorse is picking up steam will open the doors for a like-minded candidate in ’16…provided that the next president doesn’t do just enough marginal good to take the steam off the movement.
    But another four years of climbing debt and nut-job foreign policy will, if it does not render us extinct as a nation, will leave the door wide open for a second run for Johnson, or perhaps a entry for Senator Paul (the son).
    Either way, I ring the bells loudly for them both; as a libertarian, I can only view the success of either as a victory for freedom.

    1. Why do care about the GOP if you’re libertarian?

      1. Because, like it or not, the GOP is the gatekeeper to fielding even a remotely libertarian candidate…

        1. Agreed. However slight the chance is of electing a libertarian under the GOP banner, it’s still a probability greater than zero. That’s not true with the Democrats.

          1. In New Hampshire they only have R and D, but allow fusion candidates. A few Democrat-Libertarians have been elected.

            But on the national scale, definitly no.

    2. Senator Paul has already been damaged by the Rachel Maddow Civil Rights Act brouhahaha. Sorry. He’s already points down vs. Johnson for general electability.

      It is highly conceivable that Johnson could win the GOP primary, and if he does, it’s highly conceivable that he could beat Obama.

      1. The provisions of the Civil Rights Act that abrogate property rights should be repealed. I don’t give a fuck about the opinion of Rachel Maddow.

  20. I think we should concentrate on exposing the pro-slavery campaigns that Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are up against. Will Americans choose slavery over freedom? Not if they understand the choice. Making them understand it is the hard part.

    1. Good parody of Max. I could almost picture him saying this. Almost.

      1. Sorry, wrong Max. When did this other Max come into being?


    2. But, Max, first we have to get the definition of ‘slavery’ reinstated. Right now, most everyone thinks one must be of color and be driven by a whip to qualify as a slave. No-one understands slavery in the way you suggest, even though you are 101% accurate. The perceptions surrounding taxes (some taxes are necessary, but let’s not go to extremes) must be confronted and challenged, n’est-ce pas?

      1. I couldn’t agree more. I only fear that some may prefer the security of slavery to the risks and challenges of freedom. We face an uphill battle in convincing people to risk becoming losers in world of free exchange and individual responsibility. Hard economic times may the the most fertile ground we have on which to sow the seeds of liberty.

    3. Slavery for some; miniature American…

      Oh, fuck it. I’ve gone to the well one too many times.

    4. Hah. Finally snapped your little mind.

  21. Indeed, it has been mentioned that a Paul/Johnson feud is the LAST thing we need. Support one more than the other, fine. But leave the destruction to the enemy, who will do more of it than we want, and let’s extol the good points of both. Have a preference, yes, but at the expense of some shitepoke neo-con like Palin or Romney or Bachmann or the Huckster, not either of these two fine men.

    1. Yep – libertarians are large enough for more than one candidate, IMO.

    2. Not to mention the silliness of fearing a split in the “libertarian vote” – what, all 8% of them? Both candidates need to reach outside of the built-in votes of the liberty movement if they want have any real success.

      1. Actually when pollsters bother to look they find that there are just as many libertarians as conservatives and liberals. Libertarians are ignored for the simple reason that they don’t tend to get involved in politics and because they don’t want things from government they want government to stop doing things so it doesn’t do any good to pander to them.

        1. Why doesn’t it pay to pander to them? Isn’t stopping gov’t from doing things valuable to them?

    3. Yes, let’s all huddle and do groupthink cheerleading and abandon an accurate analysis of the good and bad points of each candidate.

  22. Here it is both guys are awesome, this article makes good points, but Paul has name reconition, media coverage, money, and a uge grassroots volunteer team. And now having 2 Liberty candidates in the race and in the debates will help validate the liberty movement.

  23. Why the defeatism? (except of course that we have not had a liberty minded president since Calvin Coolidge). No one knew Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton on the National stage until they ran for President. The Republican field is very weak right now as shown by the fact that Donald “Let’s see the birth certificate–oops how about the college records” Trump is the front runner followed closely by Mitt “Romneycare good/ObamaCare bad, even though they are the same thing” Romney. Pawlenty is the only one of the field working Iowa right now, so there is plenty of opportunity for Johnson to come on stronger than expected–especially if he holds true on ethanol subsidies. The same goes for Ron Paul.

    1. The only addendum I would add is that the last liberty-minded candidate I can think of in our history was well before Coolidge–try Grover Cleveland.

  24. I didn’t know much about Johnson…in getting a brief overview on wikipedia, I saw this:

    “On 30 May 2003, he reached the summit of Mount Everest[12] “despite toes blackened with frostbite.”[25] He’s also climbed three more of the Seven Summits: Mount Elbrus, Mount McKinley, and Mount Kilimanjaro ? the tallest peaks in Europe, North America, and Africa respectively.”


    1. ‘Tough little bastard’ is the vulgar compliment that comes to mind.
      One hopes he does not turn into a spokeman for ‘national vigor’ a la Teddy Roosevelt. That got us on the road to profligate war, the mire we are stuck in at present. Johnson needs to encourage INDIVIDUAL vigor to get us out of that mess.

    2. Is America ready for a toeless President?

      1. well, they are “black” toes.

        1. Reason’s comment board always knows how to make me laugh.

    3. Need to find it, but there was also some commentary about being without his radar detector on some road trip and how some roads are perfectly safe at 140mph.
      American autobahn sounds like a wonderful idea.

  25. Mary Ruwart is far better than both Paul and Johnson. I hope she runs and wins the Libertarian party nomination. I think I prefer Paul over Johnson, though. I like how he’s always stressing foreign policy and the Federal Reserve.

    1. Mary Ruwart is not running for the LP nomination. She is one of the featured speakers at our tiny (maybe 30 people) Hawaii LP convention in a few weeks, along with the candidate she is promoting, Lee Wrights.

      1. Wow. Well, I am interested to see how well Lee does after St. Louis. While the whole Root thing may not have won chair it was clear that the Lees and Marys had lost much of their influence. And I think Wayne is probably going to run again and he has been increasing his base.

    2. I would agree with this buuuut there is a problem with the LP ever making a splash on the national stage.
      Then in many places you have the ‘minor party’ hurdles of simply getting on the ballot.
      Local elections or kingmakers sure, but until we go to proportional voting it borders on sisyphisian.

    1. Evidently it’s not that your HTMLFoo is weak, it’s that Hit&Runs; LinkZen defeats you everytime.

  26. I really like Gary Johnson, I just wish he was more pro-legalization of all drugs. From what I’ve heard he is against the drug war, and is pro-marijuana legalization, but hasn’t come out in support of total drug legalization. This may be the deciding factor in who I vote for (either Paul or Johnson) in the Republican primaries.

    1. Oh and right there you have an issue where Paul is more pro-freedom than Johnson. Paul has always come out in favor of TOTAL drug legalization.

    2. I heard him talk, and this stance is a pragmatic one. There is no way in hell you are going to get the GOP nomination, let alone win the general, if you say you want to legalize heroin and crack. So you advocate something that is still within the realm of political possibility. Advocating marijuana legalization is going to be tough enough sell as it is.

  27. Johnson said on the Judge show that he would keep Gitmo open and that “prominent libertarians wooed him over to that side” WTF!

  28. Dude, you SF’d the link twice. No quotes (including single apostrophes) in urls.

    Wikipedia Article on Duverger’s Law.

    1. Ah … Grazie

  29. From an electoral standpoint, the best thing would be if we could have Ron Paul win the primaries but somehow magically Gary Johnson runs in the general election. I’m not really concerned about winning the presidency, though. Don’t get me wrong, elections matter, but we should really be focusing on Congressional, state, and local elections way more than the presidency. That said, if one, or both, makes a strong showing, it will mean a lot for libertarians and constitutionalists getting elected for other offices. After we got a few in 2010, it will show that we are serious, credible, and here to stay.

    1. Well, you don’t need to win elections to be serious or credible, but I see your point.

    2. The Presidency is the key to the Supreme Court. Will liberty survive 2 more Obama justices?

      1. Legislators and state/local candidates are more achievable. It’s a very pragmatic methodology, rather than what we’d *like* to be doing.

  30. He came to Texas State earlier this year and I was moved. Aside from Ron Paul he is the brightest politician I have met.

  31. Having lived in NM in the late 80’s, anyone who could govern that state from the right is someone that the libs would definitely be afraid of.

    The media will give him no coverage while bleating on and on about unelectable easy targets like Palin, Romney, and Huckabee.

    All the “Its my time” Repulicans are doomed against Obama. What we need is a candidate that can argue for liberty and basic role of government as opposed to the dems’s character assassination arguments “anyone who is opposed to X wants to kill children”.

    I would be inclined to give him a listen.

  32. I think we have to be very realistic and admit that we have no chance of getting either Ron Paul or Gary Jiohnson elected president. At this point their candidacies serve only an educational purpose. The only question is whether one of them running is more educational than both of them running. I’m inclinced to think that both of them running would reduce the reflexive notion that either is just a kook. Two outliers making sense is a greater challenge to orthodoxy than just one.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with you. The more the merrier.

  33. If this piece is even a remote reflection of reality I might actually register “R” and vote for this dude.

    Colorado votes early enough that my vote might actually get to be counted before the matter is decided.

  34. Gary Johnson is a total BA. I’m pulling for him all the way. I love Ron Paul, but he won’t appeal as broadly as Johnson. And, let’s face it, Paul is getting old.

  35. Either one would be better than another term of Barry, or a first term of Mitt or Rudy.

  36. Paul:Goldwater::Johnson:Reagan

  37. I thought it was Barack W. Bush Obama.

  38. Johnson will help attract people to the movement who, for whatever reason, don’t like Paul. Unfortunately, people’s initial impression of the messenger often determines their perception of the message.

    Neither will ultimately win the primary but the day for a libertarian-leaning candidate is drawing nigh.

  39. I like both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson.

    1. We’re going to need all libertarian hands on deck from now on. I’m not ruling out either for president, but the presidency isn’t the only thing. Broadcasting the message of liberty is going to have to be a lifetime commitment for all of us.

  40. Well, I’m biased: I like Ron Paul a lot. I think he’s really moral and he’s got the right ideas about how the government ought to be. That being said, having multiple candidates who endorse most of the same ideas leaves open the possibility that they could sort of combine (one run as VP) and combine thier efforts. So: that’s a good thing. Regardless of who goes for president, I think both of them are realy in good standing so far as cutting the budget. I would prefer Paul, because he would introduce a lot of other ideas (like auditing the FED, which is probably more at the heart of this issue than anything). Either way, I guess I won’t look at Johnson as a threat. If the American people hear more truth and believe more in Johnson than Paul, they’ll vote that way. Hopefully they won’t be goaded into choosing one over the other for fears of “electability.” My vote is still with Ron Paul. I think he’s right on more of the issues.

    1. Why don’t candidates in the primaries get together and select on to be VP? Am I the only one who’s thought of proposing an entire tentative cabinet before the election?

      Seriously, if Paul and Johnson got together in the primaries, they could easily improve their votes by merging their support. Funds could be pooled. Instead of infighting over who would be better, those efforts could be directed at towards more centrist candidates.

      We might want to tell them the idea…

  41. Well, I’m biased: I like Ron Paul a lot. I think he’s really moral and he’s got the right ideas about how the government ought to be. That being said, having multiple candidates who endorse most of the same ideas leaves open the possibility that they could sort of combine (one run as VP) and combine thier efforts. So: that’s a good thing. Regardless of who goes for president, I think both of them are realy in good standing so far as cutting the budget. I would prefer Paul, because he would introduce a lot of other ideas (like auditing the FED, which is probably more at the heart of this issue than anything). Either way, I guess I won’t look at Johnson as a threat. If the American people hear more truth and believe more in Johnson than Paul, they’ll vote that way. Hopefully they won’t be goaded into choosing one over the other for fears of “electability.” My vote is still with Ron Paul. I think he’s right on more of the issues.

  42. Gary Johnson has no chance. No one cares what he has to say. He’s terrible on tv, but doesn’t have the principles to make up for it. Watch him on Bill Maher for an example.

    Ron Paul is not a pragmatist. He believes in the truth and I think that is what has made him such a major influence. Past generations have gone along with a system that doesn’t work for far too long, and now that it’s coming to a head, the young generation seems to be demanding some truth.

  43. great propaganda piece. YOU will not tell me whom to vote for, I will always vote for integrity and principle and that man is RON PAUL. Nice try. There are some of us that have a few brain cells left.

    1. Nice George. I agree. It’s pretty amazing how blatant an advertisement this was.

      I’m sorry Shikha, I’m a big fan of your work, but this one didn’t do you justice.

    2. Wait, are you saying this article was written to promote Gary Johnson!?!

  44. There’s not a single candidate that’s anywhere near to constitutionalism/libertarianism/true American republicanism anywhere. If there are, they’re hiding behind a semi-statist facade in order to stand a chance of being elected. What a fucked up world we live in.

    1. That’s my real username, forgot to alter after parodying Tony.

  45. The writer claims there is no issue on which Johnson is less “pro-liberty” than Ron Paul. There are many issues that Paul is more libertarian than Johnson but to pick just one that doesn’t touch on one of the “wedge” social issues or involve complicated trade agreements that arguably violate sovereignty, one should look at their two different views of drug legalization. Paul is philosophically for the legalization of all drugs, prescription or otherwise and the outright abolition of the FDA and DEA. Johnson has suggested that marijuana be treated like alcohol but that war on drugs on “hard” drugs not be abolished though it should be softened to emphasize rehabilitation over incarceration. While Johnson’s position is certainly much better than any mainstream politican (other than Paul), his position is more progressive/liberal than libertarian. He readily concedes the libertarian argument that harming oneself is absolutely no business of the government and all government regulation of such activities, whether for liberal rehabilitative ends or for conservative punitive ends, is illegitimate. Johnson’s position on the constitutional necessity of declaring war before invading nation states is also troubling. Apparently though “anti-war”, he doesn’t think that the President is constitutionally forbidden from initiating war without an explicit congressional declaration of war. All in all, Johnson doesn’t have the serious philosophical training or understanding that Paul has.

  46. Yes, all that “End the Fed” stuff is a real loser. Monetary policy!- what could be more irrelevant? And what could be more free trade than NAFTA? I mean, it’s got the words “free trade” right in the title! Gary Johnson’s the Right man for Weimar America!

  47. Gary should consider himself lucky to be VP to Ron Paul. Give me a break.

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