Gary Johnson

'I'm probably the person on the left who's most open to libertarian thinking'—Robert Scheer in Conversation With Matt Welch

New Left stalwart talks with libertarian journalist about Gary Johnson, crony capitalism, the Koch brothers, and war


Robert Scheer is a celebrated and still-vibrant elder statesman of West Coast progressivism. The former Ramparts editor, Playboy civil-liberties columnist, L.A. Times essayist and Left, Right, and Center co-host now hangs his main editorial hat over at Truthdig, and at his new podcast, called Scheer Intelligence. It's at that latter venue that Scheer—a journalism educator who was one of the biggest benefactors of my early career—interviewed me in a piece that went up Friday.

It's a wide-ranging conversation that explores commonalities and friction points between libertarianism and the progressive left, in the context of the 2016 presidential election. Scheer, an early defender of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), is quite open to Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and libertarian ideas writ large, saying at one point: "I'm probably the person on the left who's most open to libertarian thinking because I do believe in the original vision of the founders, that the government that governs best is the one that governs least. I believe in a very strong notion of individual freedom and I am very worried about the overpowering federal state."

You can read rush transcripts of the conversation here and here (my favorite transliteration is "He's Bill Crystal's protégé"), or just listen to the conversation below:

Thaddeus Russell interviewed Scheer for Reason TV back in 2013: