Gary Johnson

Why 'I'm Not As Bad As the Other Two' Won't Work for Gary Johnson

That is not moderation, it is a cop out.

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The usual rap against Libertarians is that they are too dogmatic, too unwilling to compromise on their core commitments to individual liberty and limited government,

Gary Johnson
Foter Gage Skidmore

even if that means political marginalization. So it is odd that Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee, and his running mate, Bill Weld—both highly successful former GOP governors from blue states—are now facing criticism from some conservative quarters for not being dogmatic enough.

Fair or unfair, Johnson and Weld need to take this criticism seriously. Because the 2016 election—which pits a stupid candidate from the Evil Party against an evil candidate from the Stupid Party—presents a potential third-party challenger with a real opportunity. But to capitalize on it, Johnson will have to present himself as a credible alternative to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump whom voters can take seriously. He needs to do more.

The Week's Michael Brendan Dougherty lamented that the Libertarian Party's 2016 nominees are "super qualified but entirely unappealing." Likewise, Washington Examiner's Tim Carney commented that conservatives looking for a plausible third-party alternative shouldn't turn to the Libertarian ticket because it has decided to run "against conservatives more than for liberty." Indeed, noted Carney, Johnson and Weld seem to be signaling, "We don't need those backward Christian Right bozos as much as we need you MSNBCers." The Federalist's David Harsanyi echoed similar sentiments.

Apart from the fact that Johnson and Weld are both pro-choice—Johnson moderately and Weld strongly—what triggered this widespread angst on the right was Johnson's comment that he would be fine with legally requiring Catholic bakers to service gay weddings. Freedom of conscience is a bedrock libertarian tenet and a key reason why many serious religious believers gravitate toward libertarianism—notwithstanding the common perception of it as a secular philosophy that believes in laissez faire economics and morality. Hence, Johnson's concession on religious liberty is without a doubt troubling for many Libertarians as well as conservatives.

Purity is not possible in politics. But Johnson has to be principled if he wants to hang onto his natural constituency while expanding his appeal to other voters. His gay wedding cake capitulation will alienate religious Libertarians without gaining any MSNBCers, the vast majority of whom are already in the tank for Hillary.

No doubt, what's really driving Johnson is a desire to avoid tripping up like Sen. Rand Paul, who drew withering criticism several years ago when he expressed qualms to Rachel Maddow about the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on private racial discrimination. Paul staked out this position not because he is racist, but because, like a small subset of libertarians, he believes using government coercion for noble ends inevitably backfires. If whites can't discriminate against blacks, then that also means that blacks can't discriminate against whites, which means black restaurants couldn't turn away KKK diners. And if the ban were extended to religion, Jews would have to serve Nazis.

Most libertarians accept that using government force to end private discrimination under the Civil Rights Act was necessary to undo two centuries of government-enforced private discrimination in the form of slavery and Jim Crow. There is no equivalent parallel in history and therefore there is no strong reason to extend that ban to other groups. In other words, a libertarian could have accepted the Civil Rights Act and also drawn some principled limits to it, rather than signing off on a wholesale abridgement of religious liberties, as Johnson has.

Last time Johnson ran, I called him a "pragmatic champion of liberty" because he offered relatable arguments for his positions. He will have to double down on that approach now. He describes himself as "fiscally conservative and socially liberal," which is fine as far as it goes, but he can't stop there. Other politicians can get away with little beyond bromides and vague promises. He can't—not if he wants to get attention, at any rate. He needs to get specific.

He says he'll cut federal spending by 20 percent—including on entitlements, a noble stance given the absolute cowardice of the political class in dealing with the certain fiscal catastrophe that awaits this country if nothing is done. But that's not enough. He can't sell spending cuts as ends unto themselves just because Libertarians believe in limiting the size and scope of government. He has to explain why, and offer bold—and detailed—reform plans for Social Security privatization or replacing entitlement programs with a universal basic income. James Spiller's recent National Review hit piece questioning Johnson's stellar fiscal record as governor of New Mexico was a travesty. But he was right in pointing out that Johnson's pledge that as president he'd veto any budget with a deficit just doesn't cut it. It won't persuade voters that he's serious and it won't affect the terms of the debate, which is his sole purpose for running given that his chance of actually winning the White House is only slightly better than David French's was.

Above all, however, to truly gain traction, Johnson must take his cues from voters' actual concerns, and not simply try to sell them on Libertarian hobbyhorses. He needs to create a bigger agenda based on what's on voters' minds. That means focusing on Libertarian solutions for core economic, social, and national security issues—not just bloodless opinions on them when queried, which is what he's been doing. He has to offer Libertarianism not as an ideology but as a solution.

This is undoubtedly a tall order. But "we stink less than the other two" isn't the kind of message that will excite the refugees of the two main parties to make the schlep to the polls and vote Libertarian on election day. Just as many women would attest that they have to be twice as good as the next male to get ahead in many workplaces, Libertarians have to be twice as good as major-party candidates to win the hearts of mainstream voters. Johnson, who obtained 1 percent of the vote in 2012, is already the top choice of 10 percent of voters—even 12 percent in a recent Fox poll—which is remarkable for a Libertarian candidate. But to truly make Libertarian ideas matter, he'll have to up his game.

This column originally appeared in The Week.

NEXT: Has Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Forgotten About Paris or Kenya or the Second Amendment?

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  1. What Should Gary Johnson Do To Mainstream Himself?

    Dressing like an adult would be a pretty good start.

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    3. ^^^This.

      It’s a job interview for an executive job. If he’s not going to take himself seriously, why should voters take him seriously? Say what you will about Trump and how he’s a clown (he is), but when he’s talking to voters he’s not leaving them with any doubts that he takes the pursuit of the job seriously. Gary Johnson is still treating it like he wants to be the protest vote. He’s not acting like someone who wants to lead.

      1. *”when he’s (Trump) talking to voters he’s not leaving them with any doubts that he takes the pursuit of the job seriously”*

        Bullshit. Trump doesn’t give a good goddamn about actually being president. He wants to win the election, because his yuuuuuge ego will not permit anything else; he never expected to get this far. If God forbid he wins, he’ll have concocted way out well before the end of his first year in office.

  2. What Should Gary Johnson Do To Mainstream Himself?

    These masturbation euphemisms aren’t abstract enough anymore.

  3. He doesn’t get to up his game until he gets in the press enough.
    My local newspaper has yet to even mention his name. It’s shameful.

    1. That’s the Indianapolis Star not a small town paper.

    2. This is the biggest problem with his campaign in my opinion. He is aiming for 15% in the polls via press appearances. There is no grassroots or bottom-up element at work in his campaign at all – or in how he has structured his image/issues.

      He isn’t going to get to 15% by hoping the media will tell people about him. He might get to 15% by enabling regular people to tell other regular people about him. But I don’t see anything in what he promises to do (other than maybe wielding a veto) that elicits anything but a yawn.

      I do think he is a Libertarian. But he is falling for the useless BS that says libertarianism is the compromise or somesuch between the D’s and R’s. Maybe that appeals to all the middle children and Rodney Kings out there who just desperately wish we could all just get along. But how many of those people are there?

      1. Gary is the lukewarm water between Trump’s fire and Hillary’s ice

    3. Google News headlines have been almost entirely silent on Gary Johnson since the LP convention.
      There are stories there if you search for them, but they don’t show up otherwise.
      Most people don’t know who he is or that he’s running.

  4. What Should Gary Johnson Do To Mainstream Himself

    – The guy smokes Reefers
    – He appears to be honest and very down to earth
    – He’s experienced with a positive two-term tenure as Governor of New Mexico
    – And compared to the other two running for office, he seems to be the most reasonable choice.

    I don’t understand how Gary Johnson is not a Slam-dunk.

    1. Agree, will be voting for him again in November.

    2. Yes, the fact that he’s a libertarian is just a bonus.

    3. Americans don’t care about freedom. They care about who gets to feed more at the trough and which set of laundry to root for in November. Exhibit A – the fact that Rand Paul couldn’t even pull double digits on the Team Red nomination process. I didn’t expect him to win, but I did expect him to drag a more mainstream guy such as Rubio towards the libertarian wing of Team Red.

      Exhibit B – A surprisingly large pinko coalition in Team Blue that isn’t even shy about it anymore.

      1. Rand Paul did very well in a crowded field like that. Wasn’t he above the median? & that’s not even counting the hundreds of “others” who filed w the FEC for the nomination.

    4. It’s because there is no room for a third party moderate when everything is defined in polar opposite extremes these days. That’s either the goal, or the natural outcome (or both) of highly partisan politics. Too many people have litmus tests that are going to leave someone out in the cold for a marginal reason (especially when they all fail the test, but some are demonstrably better than the others in every other way.).

      My opinion is the Libertarian Party doesn’t need the social conservatives, and I believe this because they already have the Republican Party and we’ve seen where those views have helped lead them.

      If this means Libertarianism doesn’t win this cycle, or that they never win and the Country implodes, so be it. Frankly, if that’s the road we’re all going down (which appears to be the case) it ultimately won’t matter if doom comes with an (L), (R), or (D). It will visit itself upon us regardless. Perhaps I’m a ‘purist’, that’s possible I suppose, but I sure don’t feel like one. I just feel like social conservatism, much like progressivism, is simply antithetical to libertarian ideals. They both seek to remake society in their own image through government, without regard to individual liberty. I think most people just want to choose themselves, and those people who want to choose for others can stay where they are.

      1. All I know is, this implosion’s been going on for thousands of years, yet the world keeps getting better.

        1. It does seem that way, although it goes backwards pretty frequently too.

      2. I would argue that social conservatism is largely about not remaking society in the liberal/progressive view. Moreover, while some might want government to help with this, many just want government to stop pushing that liberal view.

        See for example the whole bathroom thing. It’s not social conservatives trying to remake society or force people it’s liberals and their big government.

        Probably the biggest example of where social conservatives do want government to stop in is on abortion. But if you believe (as I do) that killing unborn babies is murder, then that seems a legitimate government function

        1. Huh, that’s odd since every dry county I’ve ever lived in was entirely socially conservative. At one point that was a progressive thing, much like the prohibition, but the definition of progressive included protestant fundamentalism back then too. It’s just shifted it’s balance.

          Of course, this is another reason why I don’t see a lot of difference between them. Because historically, they were often in the same boat. These days it seems that their ‘icky’ Christianity is the only thing that separates them from the progressives even though they mostly agree in a lot of fundamental ways.

    5. The reality is that his name recognition is probably only about 30% or so. None of the stuff you mention is a ‘hook’ for that number to grow via either media/press coverage – or far more important people-to-people coverage.

      What one or two things will he DO that is appealing enough for people to tell their friends/neighbors/etc about? Hell if I know

      1. 1. Balance the budget right away.
        2. Keep Trump and Clinton out of the WHite House.

        there’s 2.

        1. IMO that’s only one. ‘Balance the budget’ is like serious wonk stuff that has never appealed to anyone on any emotional level. His tax substitute for the income tax is almost universally recognized by anyone who understands it as a regressive attempt (via an innocuous looking first step) to foist taxes on poor people. Any spending cuts will gain only enemies once they are specified. And no one understands financing-via-debt problems.

          Keeping Trump/Clinton out of the WH is good. But it will only really work AFTER Johnson gets his name recognition/support up to the point where he’s competitive. Until then, he’s just ‘a spoiler’ who will ‘let the really evil POS in the WH’.

          1. his tax thing includes sending “prebates” each month to poor people to offset their burden. not that congress would ever pass such a bill. tax loopholes are rainmakers for congressmen

            1. And I’m sure those ‘prebates’ would never then become a purely political issue. Say – ‘we need to pay for a TARP bailout to Wall St by reducing these ‘prebates’.

    6. He has my vote. And I think “I’m not as bad as the other two” is a great strategy. He just needs to raise and spend some money to get the word out that there is a sane alternative who’s not a crook and is qualified.

      Try to appeal to conservatives would be a wasted effort. Neocons will vote for Hillary and never for a Libertarian. So-cons won’t vote for Johnson regardless. The votes he might get are the large swath of independent voters who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal and appalled that either Trump or Clinton might become President of the United States.

      1. I do agree that the registered independents are the target group. But that does mean he needs to target them – and the media is actually a poor way to do that.

  5. Most libertarians accept that using government force to end private discrimination under the Civil Rights Act was necessary to undo two centuries of government-enforced private discrimination in the form of slavery and Jim Crow.

    Ummm…..

    [citation required]

    1. Yeah, where the fuck did that come from?

    2. Glad you’re not the only one to almost coffee-spray my keyboard reading this.

    3. Libertarians are all about ending government force through more government force.

      1. Please expand on your wordy bumper sticker.

        1. The sticker actually consists of one of those QPD barcodes, you scan it and get the full text on your phone or kindle.

    4. It’s not a completely unsupportable position when restricted to the purpose of undoing harms inflicted by the state.
      I don’t know if there’s a majority libertarian position – opinion is divided on whether anti-discrimination laws are / were necessary (e.g. compare Epstein with Becker on this issue).

      I think the general classical liberal view is that these kinds of laws should be looked at with the narrowest of gazes, and removed as soon as possible.

      1. Wasn’t there a Nobel Laureate economist that looked at the Jim Crow period/laws and found that the businesses and sectors of the economy and that were least regulated exhibited the least discrimination and basically didn’t give a damn who their customers were and concluded that the Jim Crow laws were almost entirely political creations.

        1. Who’s that?

        2. Please please please post a source. Not that I doubt… I’ve heard something similar. I just like being able to have evidence for when I fruitlessly use logic and reason with my liberal friends and need an “expert” so they will trust me (which they won’t… i’m a sucker for waisting my time I guess).

      2. It’s not a completely unsupportable position when restricted to the purpose of undoing harms inflicted by the state.

        The state inhibiting the rights of one group to appease another is always unacceptable. The CRA would be fine if not for one aspect. It should ONLY apply to government.

    5. I know at least 100 libertarians who accept that…

      1. Respectfully, you don’t know any principled ones who accept that. And if they are truly the majority, we have some work to be done.

        Ends don’t justify the means.

        1. Ugh.

          “No true Scotsman”…….

    6. She also lies in asserting that American slavery was literally the worst thing in the history. Slavery had always existed until white men ended it. Whenever people say things like that America is racist in its founding they never mention the Africans castrating their own men to sale to the arabs for 10 centuries or the Crimean khanate slave trade which ended in 1799 by Russian forces only because of military action or the Barbary slave trade or the slave trading port at Zanzibar that the Brita shut down. The only thing that matters is white guilt. Fuck white guilt.

    7. She also lies in asserting that American slavery was literally the worst thing in the history. Slavery had always existed until white men ended it. Whenever people say things like that America is racist in its founding they never mention the Africans castrating their own men to sale to the arabs for 10 centuries or the Crimean khanate slave trade which ended in 1799 by Russian forces only because of military action or the Barbary slave trade or the slave trading port at Zanzibar that the Brita shut down. The only thing that matters is white guilt. Fuck white guilt.

  6. Let’s disect the Libertarian candidates for president: figure out where the problems are.

    I’m sure if they just listened, they’d be polling ahead by 30 points.

  7. I don’t think Nazi cakes are the problem – though I liked the psycho-dynamic explanation for why he did it. This issue will not prevent him from achieving ‘sufficient purity within the party’. The larger issue is that if he really fears that anything he says can and will be used against him by Rachel Maddow then he’s already lost. I think he can safely stick to the basic issues without proposing any crazy new schemes like Carson’s increasingly complicated min wage policies. I think they should stick to an even keel message reinforcing the Constitution like Obama did yesterday. They need not get down and dirty with Hillary and Trump – let those guys destroy each other.

    1. Yep. He needs just to present himself as the adult in the room.

  8. He was on Samantha Bee’s show a couple of weeks ago and I was eager to show it to my (non-libertarian) wife to demonstrate that he wasn’t a kook. And I couldn’t show it to her. He looked kooky. He made libertarians look kooky. He basically said half the attendees at the Libertarian Party convention were wack-jobs (followed by clips of various people outfitted like they were going to comic-con). And this is a professional politician libertarian, not a software billionaire libertine. I think his first order of business is stop looking kooky.

    1. I agree! I think the problem is that he is getting bad advice from someone. Rand Paul had the same problem. Half his staff was crooked, so wouldn’t be surprising if they were trying to undermine him.

    2. I will credit Samantha in part 2 of her “get to know the libertarians” piece this week for making Gary look like the voice of reason amongst all the bat shit crazy convention fun.

    3. I soured a bit on Johnson where he gave an interview last year saying that about 90% of his time spent campaigning in 2012 was wasted time. He’s not wrong, exactly…the ballot system isn’t friendly to third parties. But he can’t say that defeatist shit and appeal to someone looking for a reason to jump from the Dems or the GOP to the LP in 2016. He has to take the campaign seriously and act as if he has a shot to win. If it’s all just snark about the system he’ll there’s no reason for Dems or Republicans to vote against their party’s candidate if they really hate the other party’s candidate.

  9. He has stated that he’d have no trouble requiring Catholic bakers to service gay weddings. Not only does this statement violate the bedrock libertarian commitment to religious liberty, but it also alienates religious conservatives desperate for an alternative

    it’s also by far the more popular position. I don’t think you’re doing Gary Johnson any favors by advising him to take a stand on the unpopular side of controversial issues, when those issues involve relatively trivial numbers of people. He would lose more votes than he would gain. Gary Johnson just needs to be the sane reasonable trustworthy person in the race. His best chance is to run as a sane moderate. Sorry, but as much as I agree that Catholic bakers shouldn’t have to bake gay wedding cakes, it’s just not a hill worth dying on.

    1. [As] much as I agree that Catholic bakers shouldn’t have to bake gay wedding cakes, it’s just not a hill worth dying on.

      If no libertarian is willing to march up that hill to fight for individual liberty, then libertarianism is an empty shell and we’re all poseurs.

      1. Knowing how to pick your battles is a necessary skill to accomplish anything. At all.
        I certainly wouldn’t take a strong anti-gay-cake stance before getting elected. Maybe after.

        1. You know that wouldn’t happen. Once elected, the game shifts to managing political capital. If someone is elected without taking a principled stand, they certainly won’t do it after they are elected. If it’s only a principle when there is nothing to lose, it isn’t really a principle.

          Almost no one wants to defend the unpopular side of a controversial topic. Until people are willing to do so the popular majority will continue to win even when they are wrong, and individual liberty will continue to erode.

      2. Well maybe it just shouldn’t be what he pushes during the election.

  10. Gary Johnson can’t get specific on what he wants to cut especially when it comes to benefit programs. The press will excoriate him on it, and everyone will come out to denounce Johnson and libertarianism as heartless and cruel.

    America loves nothing more than empty slogans which tickle their nether regions. Look at how successful the empty phrases of Hope and Change (2008) and Make America Great Again (2016) have been. Gary Johnson needs an empty, yet effective, catchphrase more than he needs to be specific on anything.

    I’ll be skipping this election like every election because it doesn’t matter. Although I might write in SMOD 2016 just for grins.

    1. Exactly. Presidential candidates never get specific on what they’re going to cut. It’s bad strategy.
      Dalmia seems to be advising Johnson to run as an ideological libertarian, by taking clearly libertarian stances on controversial issues.
      If this was a two candidate race, that might be a good idea. But as the third party, he can’t afford to marginalize himself. His only real shot is to appear to be a more viable choice than the others. He’s not going to do that by trying to split off Republican voters. That will only reinforce the two-party dynamic by making Republican voters fear he’s a spoiler. He has to grab equal numbers of votes from both sides.

      1. When the two leading candidates for the Presidency are duplicitous and unprincipled shit stains maybe the best thing to do is hold firm on unpopular principles. Trying to find a middle ground between the Democrats and Republicans is a lost cause. Johnson has a no realistic chance of winning the election, compromising on principles is pointless. At best Gary Johnson would pull equal numbers from both parties which accomplishes nothing and proves libertairanism is an empty ideology.

        If Johnson could somehow manage a serious campaign with coverage rivaling the two main parties it would be his willingness to fight for individual liberty which would turn heads. He needs to show voters that libertarianism is something different. He needs to show that Democrats and Republicans are selling two different brands of the same crappy product. Democrats and Republicans are both about centralizing control over people. Gary Johnson should be out there explaining how people are able to solve their own problems without the government. It would be even better if he demonstrated all the ways people are prevented by government from solving their problems. Revive the old Ronald Reagan quip about the nine scariest words in the English language being, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

        A libertarian isn’t a better version of a Democrat or Republican. A libertarian is and must be something different.

        1. Stossel seems to have no trouble finding the cause of ordinary folks to champion. Examples abound, all a candidate has to do is get some endorsements from some particularly put-upon people, like ones the IJ helps. HyR has them all the time. I’d recommend that to any of the candidates for practically any office, whether they’re libertarians or not.

          Find some Americans who are in similar circumstances to those people in the shipping crates in Anguilla, for instance. Maybe someone who relocated to another state for a job. You needn’t be very particular about what you can do for them, just show you’re on their side. People eat that up.

        2. True dat. And integrity changes the laws and the constitution. If persistent 2% voting did not change policies and laws, the commies could never have gotten communist manifesto plank 2 into the constitution as the 16th Amendment, or religious conservatives their crank 18th Amendment and pot laws making beer and hemp federal asset-forfeiture hard-time felonies. Think about that…

          We win by repealing bad laws, not by pocketing tax dollars like the parasite parties.

    2. He might start by explaining to young voters that if nothing changes in old age entitlements, they’ll be paying 70% of their income in taxes.

  11. No charisma. Not sure how one would get it though. Maybe changing the appearance (outfit, haircut etc ..) could help a bit, but that’s just a guess.

    He definitely wasn’t very assertive in his comments (on the clips I’ve seen so far). Some (perhaps too many) comments sounded whiny and unsure.

    It makes me wonder how he was able to be successful in his businesses.

    1. Maybe changing the appearance (outfit, haircut etc ..) could help a bit, but that’s just a guess.

      What he needs are more outfits that combine sports coats with jeans. That’s pretty charismatic.

  12. “Paul staked out this position not because he is racist, but because, like a small subset of libertarians, he believes using government coercion for noble ends inevitably backfires.”

    Only a small subset of them believe that? I thought that was their default consequentialist argument.

    “Most libertarians accept that using government force to end private discrimination under the Civil Rights Act was necessary to undo two centuries of government-enforced private discrimination in the form of slavery and Jim Crow.”

    I’ve been out of the loop way too long then, from what I can remember they were the small subset, the rest stood against it.

    At this point I’m kind of shocked Gary has defended gun ownership as much as he has.

    1. Consider who wrote this article. Her perception of libertarianism is pretty skewed.

      1. Fair enough, from what I’ve read it’s still one of her better pieces.

    2. Its reason magazine libertarianism, almost as far as Cato Institute libertarianism.

    3. Most Libertarians are against the CRA. Most libertarians support it. This is the entire problem with the Libertarian Party. It’s not that there aren’t a ton of libertarians in this country (using the Nolan Chart definition), but by taking things to extremes, they alienate 95%+ of those libertarians.

  13. You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. If I vote it will be for Gary Johnson and before everyone replies that a vote for GJ is a vote for X candidate. Heard that argument before and it is just as stupid and cowardly now as it was 45 years ago. When you vote for the lesser of two evils you are still voting for evil. My problem with Gary Johnson is “he doesn’t think he can win” . My advice to people is this; if you want a candidate that will sell the Presidency vote for Hillary. If you want a pompous ass that will inspire white robes and burning crosses vote Trump. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired then vote for a third party candidate of your liking.

    1. I prefer Hilary over Trump.

      But I’m voting for Gary. And I think a vote for Gary is probably a vote for Trump.

      “SimplyBe”, I agree with you. I’m voting for someone as oppose to voting against for a change.

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  15. Because the libertarian/conservative establishment refuses to revisit the mainstream view of the US INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX, they will overlook the best solution to the entitlement problem that is already the law of the land.
    You don’t have to go through Congress to change entitlements. You only have to understand the taxing clauses of the Constitution, and how the US INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX is entirely dependent on the tax return process facilitated by Information Returns like the W-2 and 1099.
    Milton Friedman did not help create withholding.The New Deal EXPANDED withholding beyond it’s historical scope, ie withholding on federal employees by federal paymasters, to the private sector. Friedman asked Congress what about non-taxpayers? Wouldn’t the new program withhold on nontaxpayers as well as taxpayers? The committee responded-Yes, but they can apply for a refund.
    Millennials who do not believe they will ever get Social Security or Medicare can opt out by asking for a refund of all withheld taxes, including payroll taxes, if they are engaged in an occupation of common right that is not a federally privileged occupation. That is real entitlement reform. The IRS is already refunding the money, it is just not widely known. Johnson and Weld, instead of arguing over fair and flat tax proposals that are not going to be enacted and no longer generate much buzz, should instead recognize the actual solution that even the IRS acknowledges is correct. http://www.losthorizons.com

    1. Medicare will definitely be there for the Millennials.

      Once the retired Baby boomers die off, the young/old thing will be addressed.

      We will just have to live through about 20-30 years of pain. That is, they will probably raise the FICA CAP from $118k to maybe $1,000,000.

      So those of you making more than $118k a year, have your checkbook ready.

    2. Good lord, what a horrible website. I feel like it’s trying to sell me a libertarian version of Dianetics.

      1. Libernetics…by L Ron Hubbard

  16. There’s a pretty well-trod path that can be taken again: Release the budget he’d sign, and calculate the amount that’d save the avg. taxpayer.

  17. Johnson must take his cues from voters’ actual concerns, and not simply try to sell them on Libertarian hobbyhorses. He needs to create a bigger agenda based on what’s on voters’ minds.

    Listening tour, like Hillary in 2011?

  18. My only written communication to Gary began with “You are an idiot!” then went on from there to recommend mentioning the content of the Libertarian party platform which, despite deliberate sabotage, is a beacon compared to the Republican Mein Kampf and the pro-choice looters’ Manifesto. And better Gary than a cross-dressing communist anarchist or life-begins-at-erection antiabortion fanatic. (I am ignoring the butthurt noob who expected the nomination six months after first paying member dues).

    The economy collapsed under the Bush Dynasty because of asset forfeiture looting. This is the exact same thing that caused communism to topple–witness Venezuela, Cuba, China… Our platform would have prevented that collapse. The Kleptocracy wants men with guns to be the standard solution to all problems, real or imaginary. We do not, and we are proud of it! We are the few (fraudulent miscounts aside), the proud (by comparison), the Libertarian Party!

  19. RE: Why ‘I’m Not As Bad As the Other Two’ Won’t Work for Gary Johnson

    Gary needs to get the word WHY the LP is better than the other two socialist slaver parties.
    He needs to understand that communicating Libertarian values to the public is essential in order to win the presidency.
    He must inform the voters of the many benefits of a free market, less government intrusion, bureaucracies, intervention into other countries, etc.
    He isn’t doing this.
    He’s giving the impression this is a popularity contest and not a choice for the best political parties.
    Failing to do that will only make Heil Hitlary president.
    Only the insane and the low information voters would want Trump the Grump or Heil Hitlary in the White House.

    1. I’m a libertarian that is ok with socialist programs like public pension and medicare for all.
      I know Gary doesn’t support these things. Nevertheless, I am voting for Gary.

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  22. “A stupid candidate from the Evil Party against an evil candidate from the Stupid Party”.

    Does it matter that I can’t determine which is which?

    1. Two different shades of lipstick on the same pig…

  23. He should certainly avoid the kind of compromises that got Rand Paul labeled a flip-flopper and marginalized.

  24. “We don’t need those backward Christian Right bozos as much as we need you MSNBCers …”

    Rand Paul tried to win over the social conservatives and got nowhere; they went with Trump.

    At this point Johnson/Weld are trying to win over the Sanders voters. Smart move.

    If they can show that they are taking votes from the left, they have a better chance to convince Republicans later on that they are not a spoiler for the GOP – or what’s left of it.

  25. GJ should say..
    …I will work with Congress to get our finances in order. Paul Ryan and I can get this done.
    …”phase out” instead of “cut” or “eliminate”

    …I am open to creative solutions from anyone

    …my Cabinet will be inclusive.. Party affiliation is not an issue.

    …we will NOT be isolationist. We will non-interventionist.

    …if we have a major international issue I will work with the UN

    1. I will veto nearly everything that Congress proposes. Which means that either government will shrink – or politics will have to become more civil and bipartisan to override my veto

      And honestly, the best way for him to cut unconstitutional non-enumerated spending from various departments is not to eliminate them entirely. It is to put them into an ‘interstate compact’ form. That eliminates all federal mandating power. It eliminates the executive branch as the regulator since it is managed by states-in-compact – and thus reduces the imperial executive. And then the feds can reduce the budget/subsidy and let the states fill the gaps if they find the programs worthwhile.

  26. The idea is to get elected Gary! you are standing in the desert refusing to drink water until it rains. Do you think the previous 40 presidents told the truth?(benefit of doubt to first 4) Libertarians should adjust enough to get elected and then start making incremental, libertarian changes.

  27. It’s good to see a Reason writer finally recognize that saying “I’m better than the other two” is not enough for GJ.

    But I think the larger problem is that the electorate at large are not interested in a libertarian solution. And now, a certifiable majority (including many republican voters) are dead set against free trade. “Economic justice” is an emerging banner cause for the left.

    This election year might be the high water mark for the nation’s movement AWAY from libertarianism. Just look at the “insurgents” gobbling up enough votes together to beat Clinton in a landslide win. One of them is a socialist and the other is a anti trade, protectionist zealot. Johnson’s support is surely coming from a plurality of like minded people making a final stand.

  28. I’m calling it now. Johnson gets 2% of the vote, tops.

  29. I’m not so sure that being Governor Veto isn’t good enough when 80% disapprove of Congress. Seems like getting someone who will veto everything Congress does is exactly the answer to that.

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  31. I have a question, what’s with the animus toward social conservatives? As an independent conservative, ever since Trump knocked out the other Republican candidates, I’ve been searching for someone else to give my vote to and thought Johnson was a least a half decent choice.

    Yet, despite reading plenty of comments that parallel my own, there’s a running theme of ‘screw the SoCons!’ What’s up with that? I would think Conservatives and Libertarians would be closer cousins politically than Libertarians and Liberals.

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  40. Why doesn’t the author do an article on how the civil rights leaders have been warned to not use lawsuits to implement a quota system? see for example http://www.scotusblog.com/2015…..ncock-fha/
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