Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This time out with Gary Johnson, let's try to avoid the usual Libertarian circular firing squad

Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party's 2008 nominee, is skeptical:
Bob Barr knows from experience
that getting the nomination does
not mean the LP will support you.
“The selection of former Republican New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as its presidential nominee, and former California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray as its vice presidential nominee, brings strength and credibility to the party,” Barr observed. “Whether the Libertarian Party’s rank and file will unite behind these candidates so as to maximize the appeal of the ticket — something the party faithful have not done in the recent past — remains an open question.”
No, the LP didn't unite behind the guy about whom current nominee Gary Johnson said last week:
"Somewhere between 2000 and 2008, Bob Barr fell out of bed, hit his head, and became a libertarian. I'm glad it happened."
I know, because I couldn't believe in or support the conversion of the former proponent of legislation like the Patriotic Act or the Defense of Marriage Act.

This year there is, of course, a candidate with a track record of governing more in accordance with Libertarian principles than the party has ever had.

So what will the LP do?  As Barr notes, leaders of the so-called radical wing will each select their particular personal key element of pure Libertarianism and denounce Gary Johnson as . . . un-Libertarian.



Walt Thiessen:  you can't be my
candidate if you don't love you
some Austrian economic theory.
Walt Thiessen, for example, is a financial absolutist.  The fact that Johnson is realist enough to know that he cannot, even as President, wave his pen and abolish the Federal Reserve is not good enough for him.  He can't support Johnson because . . . (wait for it):
Johnson clearly does not understand (or care about) the Austrian theory of the business cycle.
Damn the man!  Forget the fact that no other candidate with a shot in hell at being elected President (with the possible exception of Ron Paul) has ever had the opportunity to move the discussion about the Fed as far as Johnson.  It doesn't matter.  Because Gary Johnson actually talks like he understands the realities of governing (which he, not Thiessen, has actually done), he is a sell-out.

Or take John Jay Myers, who is an equally radical Libertarian and equally certain that you cannot represent the LP successfully (whatever the hell that means if you aren't even going to try to win) if you don't pay unrelenting homage to his core issue:
The issue is not whether government should grant marriage licenses or civil unions. The issue is not whether government handouts should be given to insurance companies, or pharmaceutical companies instead. The issue is not what type of fuel our cars should burn, what jobs our economy should have, or who should receive the most goodies from government. The answer to these is the same – NO. These questions are bogus and they are distracting us from the real issue – and that real issue is WAR. Rigging the economy through legislation is a violent act that is no better than grabbing axes and clubs and raiding the next village for food, gold, and women. Wearing suits and giving us a “choice” does not make what our government is doing legitimate and it doesn’t make us free.
John Jay Myers:
reducing war is not
enough to be my
candidate.
--snip--

The real question is who will stop the violence? We should be more concerned not with who hates us, but with why do they hate us? – STOP ALL WAR!
We are not going to achieve liberty by keeping people comfortable with being hammered. We need to make them feel the chains around their necks and the government’s hand up their butts. They can’t feel it any more because it has become so normal. The other two candidates will tell them it’s ok, or that it’s not as bad as it seems, or that maybe being taken advantage of just a little bit less over here is the answer, NO, stop hammering us, how can we make that more clear?
We know that the popular political discourse is a front, a sham, a theater to keep us entertained and distracted from the real problem. The real problem is WAR. Government’s war on our economy, on our citizens, on other countries, and it’s ruining us all.
It does us no good to get more votes or win more elections if we do it on a Republican or Democratic platform.
The fact that Gary Johnson is the only candidate running who would immediately withdraw our troops from Afghanistan and who would markedly reduce the American military interventionist footprint around the world is not good enough.  He's will to consider military force in the face of genocide--damn him!  The fact that he calls for a 43% cut in the Defense budget is immaterial--the hawkish son of a bitch.

How about Gene Healy at Reason, who is uncomfortable with our ticket because . . . .
Gene Healy:  all my
candidates should be
poor and underfunded.
Johnson has told reporters he intends to seek millions of dollars in federal matching funds. If so, he'll be the first LP presidential candidate to have the taxpayers underwrite his campaign. That's a deviation that the self-styled "party of principle" should avoid.
This is utter horseshit.  Why?  Let me paraphrase North Carolina's Michael Munger (who is in that rare camp of being a former LP Convention keynote speaker and a candidate who managed over 120,00 votes in a statewide election).  (I'm paraphrasing because he made this comment about a year ago, and I can't figure out a good enough search term to go back and find it.)  Munger pointed out that if you believe the government is already stealing your money via excessive taxation, it is foolish to turn down the opportunity to get some of it back just to make a point.

Best case scenario I've seen is that Gary Johnson could qualify for $5 million in Federal matching funds this year, and that scoring 5% in the General would make the LP candidate next time eligible for up to $90 million.  In 2008 the Obama campaign spent ovr $750 million, and plans to raise upwards of $1 BILLION this time around.

If you come from the radical-philosophical school of Libertarianism and you just want a "message" candidate, here's a thought for you:  who the hell is going to be listening?  What kind of media access can you get when you have . . . nothing?  How much will you affect the economy and how will you stop the war if nobody ever has to pay any attention to you?

For his angst over humanitarian intervention and Federal matching funds, Healy does get one point right:
Watching the Libertarian Party over the years, I've sometimes had the feeling that, as George Bernard Shaw once snarked about socialism, "we should have had libertarianism already, but for the Libertarians."
In the US Army we had a saying (we had many sayings, actually), "The Best is the enemy of the Good."

Gary Johnson is Good.  Very very good, verging on Highly Damn Excellent.

Time to quit whining and help.
No, this picture doesn't work, but the widget
over to the right does just fine.

2 comments:

tom said...

This year is very different from 2008, and Gary Johnson is very different from Bob Barr.

In 2008 Obama dominated the political discourse, and nobody (not even the Libertarian Party) wanted anything to do with the pro-freedom, anti-war, fiscally conservative message that Ron Paul & Gary Johnson were preaching.

But three and a half years of the Obama administration have brought Change and maybe even Hope. In 2012, Ron Paul is drawing Rock-Star sized crowds everywhere he goes with that same message of liberty. And contrary to what the MSM would have you believe the Republican nomination is still far from decided, and Paul's supporters are doing serious damage to the corrupt Republican Party Establishment nationwide. Several State & many Local chairs have been forced out or resigned in disgrace, and there are calls from RNC members for Reince Preibus to resign for his violations of party rules. He may even manage to pull a rabbit out of the Republican Convention.

And more importantly Gary Johnson is nothing like Bob Barr. Johnson had a solid libertarian track record long before he ever considered approaching the LP for a nomination. Barr on the other hand had only rhetoric, and not even very effective rhetoric at that. He couldn't even manage to act like a libertarian while allegedly campaigning for President on our ticket.

As many readers may remember, I am probably one of the most radical and anarchistic Libertarians you'll find in Delaware. I very nearly left the LP in 2008 over the Barr nomination. But I support Gary Johnson--I may not agree with him completely on every issue, but he is a true libertarian and he is by far the most qualified candidate the LP has ever had, and probably the most qualified candidate for President running this year.

John Jay Myers said...

So we are clear, you know I support Gary Johnson right?
I am confused by your take on my comments.