Gary Johnson

A Reading Guide to Lefty Panic Attacks About Gary Johnson

Why, this devious Libertarian monster doesn't even want to give free college to everybody!


By now, the Democratic panic over Millennials not being enthusiastic enough about Hillary Clinton and flirting openly with known Libertarian Gary Johnson is becoming a campaign genre onto itself. We have already discussed in this space recent efforts from Paul Krugman and Kevin Drum; to ease the digestion process while pointing out some tropes, I have divvied up four recent pieces into some common constituent parts:

Adele M. Stan ||| C-SPAN

Lefty panicker: Adele M. Stan, AlterNet: "12 Ways Gary Johnson Is a Hardcore Right-Wing Radical: His rhetoric on marijuana and against war serve as a shield for a litany of radical-right positions"

To-be-sure throat-clear: "Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson has emphasized his support for marijuana legalization and touts an anti-war stance in an attempt to lure progressives to his cause. But progressives are likely less aware of…"

Sick burn (not really): "Johnson answered the following when asked whether he supports requiring employers to pay men and women the same for performing the same job: 'No, there are too many other variables such as education, experience, and tenure that determine a fair salary.'"

Can you believe he's not in favor of unlimited free stuff?: "Opposes federal guarantees for student loans."

Those dots won't connect themselves!: "Johnson's former adviser, Roger Stone, is now advising the Trump campaign, and has talked in the past of how to use a third-party candidate to split an opponent's vote."

Huh?: "May have Koch backing for 2016 effort. The Daily Caller, a right-wing website, breathlessly reported in May an anonymous Johnson campaign staffer's assertion that David Koch had pledged 'tens of millions of dollars' to bankroll Johnson's 2016 campaign. (David Koch was the Libertarian Party's 1980 vice-presidential nominee.) According to reporter Drew Johnson, '[a] Koch spokesman declined to comment on record.' But after his article was published at the Daily Caller, Drew Johnson wrote, the unnamed spokesman said Koch had not pledged his support to any presidential candidate. So, who knows?"

Ol' Weird Harold strikes again! ||| Washington Post
Washington Post

Lefty panicker: Harold Meyerson, L.A. Times: "Vote for Johnson, elect Trump. Clinton's youth turnout problem and what Tom Steyer can do about it."

To-be-sure throat-clear: "To be sure, Johnson supports the legalization of marijuana — way cool. Less cool is…"

Sick burn (not really): "The oddity — and potentially, the tragedy — of all this is that many young Americans' defining beliefs are dismissed or opposed by libertarians generally and Johnson in particular."

Can you believe he's not in favor of unlimited free stuff?: "Then there's Johnson's position on what government can do to make college more affordable and enable students to matriculate without piling up mountains of debt. Or, more accurately, the absence of a position. He doesn't have one, since the very idea of such government interference runs counter to the libertarian creed."

We must do the campaign's dirty work, comrades: "It's understandable that her campaign hasn't gone after Johnson — that would only raise his profile and give him more credibility. But there's much he's proposing that would be anathema to millennials if they only knew about it. Somebody needs to call that to their attention."

Huh?: "In partnership with the Service Employees International Union and other labor groups, [anti-global warming billionaire] Steyer is funding nearly 40% of a $55-million campaign to win young people's votes for Clinton — focusing, as he recently told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, on issues of 'economic justice, environmental justice [and] racial justice.'"

Judd Legum ||| C-SPAN

Lefty panicker: Judd Legum, Think Progress: "The myth of Gary Johnson: He's attracting a lot of support from Millennials. But why?"

To-be-sure throat-clear: "Johnson embraces a few Millennial-friendly positions like marijuana legalization, reproductive rights, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. But dive just a little deeper…"

Sick burn (not really): "If you went into a lab and created a candidate who has the opposite view of corporate power as Bernie Sanders, he would look a lot like Gary Johnson."

Can you believe he's not in favor of unlimited free stuff?: "Bernie Sanders attracted scores of young people to his campaign. One of his popular policies among this demographic: Free college tuition. […] Gary Johnson, meanwhile, would eliminate the Department of Education?—?the agency that administers the Pell Grant program, which enables millions of students to attend college each year."

Let's deliberately ignore what the candidate actually says on the issue: "The Libertarian Party platform, however, calls for the abolition of Social Security. It would be replaced with nothing."

Huh?: "In Johnson's America, corporations will be completely in charge of the environment, health care, retirement, trade and wages."

Disclosure: I like Jim Newell. ||| C-SPAN

Lefty panicker: Jim Newell, Slate: "Gary Johnson Is Not Worth Any Liberal's Protest Vote: He's a free-market ideologue who would work to undermine large pieces of the left's program."

To-be-sure throat-clear: "And at first glance, it's not hard to see why. Johnson's fun. He's a fun, funny dude. I personally liked him when he was asked about Aleppo and was all, What in the hell are you even talking about? Ha! The exposure probably made it a net-plus for him in the end. He likes #extreme outdoor sports and thinks weed is great. He mostly supports abortion rights, LGBT rights, and rolling back America's global military footprint. He has a responsible adult politician as his running mate. And he's real. America's young people, we're constantly told, value honesty and authenticity. They certainly see Hillary Clinton as inauthentic and dishonest, while Donald Trump, on the other end, is a walking reminder of the wisdom of employing scripts, political calculation, and simple discretion as bulwarks against unleashing one's full self to the public. Gary Johnson? He's just Gary Johnson. There's a lot more to Gary Johnson, though…."

Sick burn (not really): "[A]side from a few issues, he is a small-government, free-market ideologue."

Can you believe he's not in favor of unlimited free stuff?: "Since we're talking about young voters here, too, don't ask Johnson for much help on college tuition."

Um, you are comparing him to Hillary Clinton, remember?: "Johnson supports criminal justice reform, mainly by curtailing the war on drugs. Like a lot of politicians who had their heyday in the '90s, Johnson has undergone a transformation on this issue."

Huh?: "On net, from the perspective of the consensus, young, liberal voter, Johnson over Clinton means a marginally slimmer chance of a hypothetical ground war that Clinton—though more hawkish by instinct—has shown no interest in pursuing."

Reason on Gary Johnson here.