Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why Gary Johnson and not Ron Paul for me: a personal opinion

I read in multiple places that Governor Gary Johnson is "Ron Paul lite."

Gary Johnson, because, let's face it,
Ron Paul would never wear this shirt.
In chat rooms and through comments on stories I constantly come across people who are upset with Johnson for attempting to run for President in the same year as Dr. Paul, or who are antagonized by the fact that the Governor keeps pointing out that by November he will be the only "freedom" candidate on the ballot.

Reluctantly, about half of the Ron Paul supporters I have met say they will vote for Gary Johnson in November if Mitt Romney is the GOP nominee.

They're not motivated to go out and work for Johnson, and they're probably aren't going to send him any money, but they will "regretfully" vote for him, unless they get inside the booth and the temptation to write in Dr. Paul is just too overwhelming.

Gary Johnson's not my second choice.

He's my first choice, and he's frankly one of the main reasons that I am getting back involved in politics.

So I thought . . . I should explain why.

I donated to Ron Paul in 2008 during the primaries.  I was originally as psyched as many other people, but I never got hugely personally involved.  Primarily it was because I had a few policy differences with the good Doctor.

I believe in abortion rights, although that's not necessarily a deal-breaker for me.

I am generally anti-interventionism, but not completely isolationist in a military sense.  Having spent two decades in the military and having been trained as a military historian, I know that there ARE sometimes occasions when the capability of projecting force to other part of the world is necessary, and that you cannot project that force without retaining SOME worldwide base infrastructure.

Nor am I a complete and utterly convinced fan of Austrian economics.  In my own case I am interested in complexity and chaos theory, and it seems to me that there are some aspects of economics in the modern world that cannot best be explained through The Road to Serfdom.

More to the point--and at the risk of seeming disrespectful to many of my friends, I didn't find Dr. Paul as personally mesmerizing and invigorating as they did.  There's nothing wrong with him at all--I admire him greatly.  I think that he may well be remembered as the Benjamin Franklin or Tom Paine of our time.

When there were multiple Republicans running for the nomination in 2011-2012, at first I did not pay a lot of attention.  I noticed right away they were--as usual--marginalizing Ron Paul, and I noticed that the MSM had a field day elevating each candidate du jour--from Santorum to Cain to Newt (even flirting, for just the shortest moment, with taking Paul seriously)--only to fall back into the narrative that the nomination was Mitt Romney's to lose.

I heard about the Gary Johnson rule that kept him out of the debates, but to be honest I did not pay attention to him until he thwasked Rick Santorum over the head on gay rights.  I got interested, I started reading about this guy, following him (which, even with the internet was not easy).  By the time he dropped out of the GOP race and went Libertarian I was beginning to think I'd found my guy.


For one thing, he actually had a record of governing a state successfully as a libertarian (Republican).  I'm sure there are blemishes on his record somewhere, but you can't find too many.  He ran when the local GOP said, "Wait your turn," and won anywhere.  He inherited a $300 million deficit and turned it into a $1 billion surplus in eight years while cutting taxes 14 times.  He vetoed stuff--a lot of stuff.  He improved public education, cleaned up bad environmental spills, announced that he was in favor of legalizing pot . . . and then he said, "You know, I'd like to climb Mount Everest now," and did it.

He's thoughtful and honest.  I had noticed, watching his interviews, that he doesn't do sound bites very well.  He must drive his staff crazy, because you can tell he's struggling to remember that he's supposed to do that.  Instead, he gets a question, and there is a pause, and he takes the time to damn-well think about the question.  Then he tells you what he thinks, and doesn't appear too worried about whether you like it or not.  He's not telling you what you want to hear, he's telling you what he thinks.  He told The Daily Caller that, no, he doesn't really depend on God to help him figure out what to do, because he's not really a religious man.  (So at least he's not a Mormon, right? wink wink)

Gary is a utilitarian rather than ideological libertarian.  He thinks in terms of what works, and what are the potential costs and benefits of any decision.  I imagine he read John Stuart Mill at some point in his life, and had an epiphany:  "That's it! The bastard nailed it! That's what I think, too!"

Being a utilitarian libertarian, Gary is not going to hold himself to what Ralph Waldo Emerson called "a foolish consistency" that is the "hobgoblin of litle minds."

Take Joseph Kony (please--you take him).  Gary thought it was morally right for the US to go after him, with a limited mission and Congressional approval.  And he hasn't back down from that point, even when he knows it is a huge sticking point for a lot of potential Ron Paul crossover voters.

He won't tell me he'd abolish the Fed because he knows that's likely to be a promise he can't keep, but he tells me what steps he would take to open up the Fed to accountability and to limit its authority.

He won't tell me he'll just eliminate taxes because taxes are theft--he'll tell me that he will use a consumption tax (Fair Tax--Less Unfair Tax his handlers want him to say) and work to repeal the 16th Amendment plus abolish all corporate taxes.

He can actually discuss a rational plan for changing/saving Social Security.

In other words, I am voting for, and working for, Gary Johnson as MY GUY because (1) he has the governing experience, (2) he's a thoughtful/honest man, and (3) his libertarianism is expressed within the practical confines of government.

No, he has yet to show the ability to get 20,000 people to faint at the sound of his name, or to become convinced that he really won all the primaries if only somebody would report accurate vote counts.

I've already compared to Ron Paul to Ben Franklin and/or Thomas Paine.

If I had to make a pick for Gary Johnson it would be Albert Gallatin and/or James Madison (although Gary is signficantly taller).

I respect Ron Paul, and I admire the people who have sacrificed so much to follow him toward the ideals of liberty.

But I believe that once in office Gary Johnson is the man who can deliver, whether it's this year or 2016.

He's my guy (which is perilously close to saying, my political man-crush), and he's not a second choice in my mind at all.


Anonymous said...

I would have to say Gary Johnson is my second choice. I have been a huge Ron Paul support for quite sometime now. However, unlike a lot of Paulities I am not reluctant in choosing Johnson. I'm not 100% on all of Johnson's policies, but I wasn't with Paul either.
I think Johnson would make a great president and obviously a much better one than either Obama or Romney

Eric Dondero said...

Gary is my second choice too. I'm a huge Mitt fan. Have been since the early 1990s, when the Republican Liberty Caucus (libertarian wing of the GOP), backed his candidacies. He was the succesor to the original libertarian Republican William Weld. (An historical fact that practically everyone in the libertarian media completely ignore, cause it doesn't fit the template.)

But I love Gary. Will work for Gary. And I hope he gets the maximum amount of votes, upwards of 2 to 3 million.

The more votes for Johnson, the more of an incentive President Romney will have to move in a libertarian direction.


Anonymous said...

Johnson's great, Paul's great, either would be great for the country. They differ in degree but not in substance.

As far as the "LIBERTARIANS FOR ROMNEY" guy, seriously? You're either ignorant or a snake in the grass.