Those crazy Libertarians are at it again, calling for anyone and everyone to come vote for Gary Johnson, who has recently thrown his hat into the 2016 ring for President once again. Libertarians are fanatical when it comes to third party candidates, they insist that everyone ought to support their guy and when people say no way in hell, as most do, they start insulting anyone and everyone who doesn’t buy into their camp.
So I went and specifically looked up Gary Johnson’s platform, at least his platform from 2012, so I could detail what it was specifically that I disagreed with. There’s a site called On The Issues, which lets you take one of those stupid online quizzes that I hate so much to find out which candidates you most agree with. I did it and found out that I disagree with everyone, which is no surprise at all. The best match I got was 50% and I wouldn’t vote for them if my life depended on it.
But enough of that, let’s look specifically at Gary Johnson’s platform and see where I agree and disagree. I’ll stick to the categories listed above for ease of reference. To make it even simpler, I’ll color code the headings, green for agree and red for disagree.
This is actually a close one, mostly because I do support federal funding on stem cell research and I want birth control covered on all insurance plans. If he really thinks the woman ought to be able to decide, how can they do that if their choices of birth control are limited or entirely removed? However, since I’m good on 3 out of the 5 statements, I’ll give this one a green.
Budget & Economy
He gets green here too because I agree that we need to stop borrowing money and live within our means, no matter what that takes. However, I think that a lot of his ideas, like a lot of libertarian ideas, are simply unworkable once you delve into them.
He gets it right here too, being pro-equality across the board. Keeping religion out of the government is also essential to a free and open society.
This is where we start to see things go wrong. Now while I am totally on board with free enterprise and a free market, I do not think that it ought to be something we give away. Corporations ought to pay their fair share of the taxes because they benefit from the things that tax money pays for. It shouldn’t be excessive, we should get rid of any and all corporate welfare, but it seems he wants to go too far the other way.
At issue here is his support of private prisons. I think we need to get rid of private prisons altogether. For-profit prisons require a never-ending supply of new prisoners to keep them full, this is a distinct conflict of interest that I find unresolvable. I do agree that drug users have no place behind bars, they belong in mandatory treatment programs. I also think that drug dealers ought to be automatically executed. More of this comes into play in the next category.
I will never, under any circumstances, support a candidate who wants to legalize drugs. I’ve gone through this in detail before, I find drug use reprehensible and even though I don’t think drug users ought to go to prison (see above), neither do I think just legalizing the whole thing is a valid argument either. Much of this goes back to my “stupid people are stupid” argument. Just because people might want to use drugs doesn’t mean that we ought to validate it.
I am not in favor of school vouchers, at least not as they have been suggested. We do need to completely overhaul the public education system, but Johnson, like most libertarians, wants to do away with federal oversight, which we absolutely need to make education equal across all states. I’ve made my thoughts clear on this here, among other placese.
Energy & Oil
I’m generally fine with a lot of what he says, but I don’t see any actual plans for implementing his ideas. I think that’s a huge problem and one that libertarians have no way of overcoming. Even if Johnson got elected President, virtually nothing on his agenda would actually get acted on.
This was a close one, I had to go against it though because I don’t see how you’ll enforce any of these things without federal oversight.
Families & Children
I am all in favor of maintaining the family. My question is, how can he be pushing for federal funds if traditional libertarianism places all of these things under state’s rights?
I’ll go with a lot of this, I don’t think we ought to be buying international friendship with billions of tax dollars and that’s largely what we’re doing. I don’t want to sound isolationist, but we could do with paying more attention to what’s going on at home and less to trying to spread democracy around the world.
Again, this is difficult because I don’t see any actual plans, just talking points. I suspect this will be closely linked to immigration, which I will address further down.
Virtually all of this is just a “rah-rah, look what I did” session so most of it is pointless. Where it went wrong is that he wants to allow unlimited corporate political donations and I honestly would like to see political donations, whether by individuals or corporations, severely limited. Of course, what he’s doing is trying to play to his potential donors, Johnson clearly wouldn’t mind if corporations could pay him millions.
There isn’t much here, I’m going to give him a pass because I support private firearm ownership and agree that a lot of gun control legislation isn’t doing much to help the problems. That isn’t to say that I want to get rid of all such legislation, I’m not mindlessly pro-gun like a lot of libertarians and neo-cons are, I’m adamantly pro-responsibility.
Likewise, I’m going to give this a pass because, while he does say that Obamacare and similar systems simply don’t work and I agree, he doesn’t list a plan for actually improving the situation.
So much of this is very close, I don’t really like what he has to say because he’s not really saying much of anything. Yes, we ought to get rid of the Patriot Act, we ought to get rid of the TSA, we ought to study how sensitive infrastructure is vulnerable to terrorist attack. I’m not really seeing any plan for keeping us safe though, that’s what I’d need to see.
Absolutely not. This is, indeed, tied in with his ideas on free trade and, in fact, with the way a lot of libertarians want to just open the borders and let people go back and forth without restriction. I am never going to agree with that.
Yes, private businesses create jobs, how is he going to deal with the fact that there are millions and millions of people nationwide on the government payroll?
Principles & Values
He sees values the same way Ayn Rand does? Oh hell no.
My problem here, even though I’m going to grudgingly agree with him, is that there’s a limit to how high you can raise retirement age. Medical science is going to continue to increase life expectancy, does he plan on keeping people working until they are 100 in the coming future? Secondly, Social Security is paid for by the employee out of every check. I personally think that people ought to get exactly as much as has been put in, plus whatever interest has been earned, and not a penny more. This is problematic, again because of modern medicine, because people are now living many more years past retirement and that money is going to run out unless the individual has made some decent investments over the years. When you used to keel over 5-10 years after retirement, it didn’t matter. Now that you might live 20+ years past retirement, it does.
There is no way in hell, no matter what the libertarians want, that we’re ever going to get rid of the IRS. Beyond this, I never thought the flat tax was workable, especially not one touted by libertarians. It’s just going to stop people from buying the non-essentials because the taxation is so high. This will reduce the amount of money taken in taxes overall, which just means the government either shuts down (which would make a lot of libertarians happy), reduces services, or just finds another way of taxing the citizenry. Like it or not, the government needs money to operate. There are many services that the people want, whether or not we think they ought to have them, they are going to send representatives to Washington to ensure they get them. This is really where I think libertarian ideals are just pointless, this is a plank in his platform that he could never keep, no matter how much he might want to. Wishful thinking has little place in politics.
I don’t care what he’s built, I do support total net neutrality so I’ll give him a thumbs up here.
War & Peace
I’m sort of torn here. I know that a lot of these are old quotes and statements and I try not to look back at them, knowing the future from that perspective. Now I’m not a war-monger by any stretch of the imagination, I think most of the wars we’ve been involved in for the past couple of decades have been utterly stupid. I’m also not an isolationist, I think there are some things that we ought to be involved in, but if we get involved, we need to go, get the job done and not come back until we accomplish what we set out to accomplish. That’s where American foreign military conflict has utterly failed. We spend more time on “rah rah, USA! USA!” than on actual planning, we go out and do a half-assed job and then bow to public opinion polls instead of finishing what we start. We go at it the wrong way, we give up too early and we lack the balls to do what needs to be done. It’s easy to say we should never have been in Afghanistan, we should never have been in Iraq, these wars were completely pointless, it cost billions of dollars and many American lives (not to mention all the innocents who got caught in the crossfire), but we walked away and nothing really got changed. It just got worse. I acknowledge that we might have to deal with the WWII paradigm, where almost 410,000 Americans died fighting against Hitler. That’s something that will never fly today but I think it’s what we need to accept if we’re serious about actually solving problems.
Welfare & Poverty
I think we need to put severe caps on welfare and major requirements for anyone who gets any kind of government check. I think being on government assistance ought to be significantly painful, such that you’d do almost anything to get off of it and back to work. I think people ought to be required to get an education, ought to be forced to stop having more children, ought to be required to keep their kids getting good grades, etc. Welfare ought to be the absolute last resort and the requirements are such that you are forced to get off welfare and standing on your own two feet sooner rather than later.
So looking back, I’ve got 13 in the green and 11 in the red. Keep in mind that a lot of them are very close, I’ve given him a pass in a lot of areas, just because I barely agree with half of his points. A lot of the things in the red are very serious, fundamental disagreements. I could never, in good conscience, support someone who favors drug legalization. Further, so many of these things are complete fantasy, there is no way in hell that most of them could happen following the 2016 election. Because it can’t happen, the vast majority of this platform is just nonsense, it’s like promising to put a Ferrari in every garage and a billion dollars in every bank account. These are simply, by and large, not achievable goals and if there’s one thing I value more than responsibility, that’s reality. The Libertarian party lacks that almost entirely.
Sorry Gary, you’ve got a couple of good ideas and a whole lot of overactive imagination. You don’t get my support with this platform.