Libertarian Party Candidate Gary Johnson Has a Message for Voters With an Axe to Grind

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Photo: Gage Skidmore

This weekend, former two-term Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson appeared on MSNBC’s Weekends with Alex Witt. Kicking off the segment with Johnson’s latest web ad, Ms. Witt described it as “Orwellian” and asked if Johnson was serious or just playing politics.

Gov. Johnson’s ad assaults the Democrats and Republicans for keeping us in a state of perpetual war and unsustainable debt, eliminating the Bill of Rights, and systematically “dismantling the freedoms granted to us under our Constitution,” noting “we the people will never agree on the small things,” but Johnson wants agreement on the big thing: “Our leaders have blown it.”

Johnson counters the elitist political duopoly with peace and prosperity, asking voters to “be libertarian with me” – putting aside partisan differences for one election.  Essentially, Johnson’s tongue-in-cheek plea is for voters to give him the reigns once, and if after four years the people are not satisfied with “peace, prosperity, and freedom, we can always vote tyranny back into office again.”

With endless media focus on the shortcomings of both Obama and Romney, the candidate GQ called the sanest man running for president is looking pretty good by comparison. Gov. Johnson is the only candidate pledging to stop the runaway spending, submit a balanced budget in year one, declare peace and bring the troops home now, restore our economy and industrial might, and focus on the best methods to rebuild our own nation rather than other nations “half a world away.”

Johnson concludes with: “America is better and brighter than this. Be libertarian with me this one time, and I’ll prove it to you.” Judging by his gubernatorial record, there is no reason to doubt him. As the ad winds down, thunder and lightning envelop the capital. As the lightning strikes, a short, edgy phrase appears for a split second with references to both the American Revolution and George Orwell: “1776 KICKS 1984’s ASS”

If that message resonates with independent voters, Gov. Johnson is offering plenty of incentives to garner their support. The ACLU Liberty Watch Candidate Report Card lists Gov. Johnson as their civil liberties valedictorian. National Review Online anointed him “best job creator” among all presidential candidates, and Johnson has earned endorsements from renowned economists like Jeff Miron and Lynne Kiesling. Prominent constitutional and legal scholars Ilya Somin and Sasha Volokh of the popular legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy also offered their endorsements to Johnson. Even former Gov. Jesse Ventura (I-MN) and comedian/magician Penn Jillette recently hopped on the endorsement wagon.

Of course, Witt was quick to point out that Gov. Johnson’s platform is rather “idealistic,” to which Johnson smiled and replied:

“I got to serve eight years as Governor of New Mexico talking about these same kinds of issues in a state that was 2-1 Democrat. [PPP] did a poll [last June], and I was the only presidential candidate that’s viewed favorably in his or her home state. Ideologically, yes, how does that really affect citizens? Well, citizens of New Mexico put that to the test, and I ended up getting reelected by a bigger margin the second time than the first time in a state that’s 2-1 Democrat; making a name for myself by being a good steward of tax dollars.”

Facts are facts, and Witt instantly agreed, “Well there is no doubt you are a very, very popular Governor there.” In the wake of his debate performance last September in Orlando, Johnson proved just how popular his “politics be damned” approach really is. In the twenty-four hours following that debate, Gov. Johnson was the most Googled name on the planet – a strong indication that Johnson’s message resonates with your average “Joe debate watcher.”

Whether or not he’s their first pick for president, independent voters need to organize and mobilize to ensure that Johnson is included in relevant polls that qualify candidates’ admittance into presidential debates. It’s an important way for independents to keep sticking it to the two party system and gaining access for third party and independent candidates.

Zogby and PPP are already on board, but other polling organizations such as Gallup and Rasmussen may need convincing. Independents can further help facilitate Johnson’s efforts to reach the 15% benchmark in national polls (with the first debate set for October 3rd) by spreading an independent message of liberty, peace, and prosperity to friends, family, and colleagues. If Gov. Johnson is allowed on stage to debate with Gov. Romney and President Obama, it will show the American people that good ideas and working solutions can come from outside the two party system after all.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. Stansberry CS Visit the Stansberry Radio website for more libertarian commentary http://www.stansberryradio.com/
  2. watrfrnt my apologies.. for clarity.. how can disputes be resolved? (not regulated)
  3. watrfrnt spiritsplice - morality is important but even on the topic of morality different people have many different views... how many churchs/faiths exist? which is the most popular? Do they all have the 'TRUTH?' . My question concerning how many people agree with you is relevent. If an idea, moral or not, is accepted or not accepted by a group, the idea will tend to die... . If I interpret you correctly, you suggest we scrap the status quo for no authority... no government... now! Is this like giving a kid the car keys and say 'go for it dude'... what harm could come from letting someone that has problems governing themselves to have no limits???? . I feel that anarchism as moral as you make it out to be can't work unless everyone, or at least a sizable number, of the group agrees... Read Heinlien's 'Moon is a Harsh Mistress' . Call it government or call it community standards or call it a giant HOA... humans will always want to 'control' other humans until we agree it is counter productive or as you aptly put it immoral... . now back to dispute resolution - please discuss how in an anarchist society disputes can be regulated... you pick the dispute and we'll discuss... . these are important issues!!!
  4. spiritsplice Blake,How is the popularity of an idea in any way relevant to its morality? Was slavery any less wrong because it was accepted by most people? Is theft any less wrong because a bunch of people think the money could be used for “good”? Is murder any less disgusting if it is painted in propaganda and executed by thousands? Does a changing the label change the inherent reality of a thing? Will arsenic be any less poisonous if the container is reads “strawberry jam”?
  5. sc_2ea5bba3fbbcb32311d6d6551f20b238 Depends on the dispute.
  6. watrfrnt Ahhh.. Of course I meant your comment (unable to edit)... . Another question... w/o any 'authority' how are disputes settled?
  7. Blake How many of the people you know agree with you comment about government not being necessary?
  8. spiritsplice There is no need for government. This idea is based on the mistaken notion that a person can have authority to tell another what to do. Government is a fiction, an excuse used by people to control others. Since no person has the right to control others, to steal from others, to lock others up for owning things they do not like, no one can give this right to others (called government). You cannot give something you do not have."Every "law" and "tax" (federal, state and local), every election and campaign, every license and permit, every political debate and movement—in short, everything having to do with "government," from some trivial town ordinance to a "world war"—rests entirely upon the idea that some people can acquire the moral right—in one way or another, to one degree or another—to rule over others.The issue here is not just the misuse of "authority," or an argument about "good government" versus "bad government," but an examination of the fundamental, underlying concept of "authority." Whether an "authority" is seen as absolute or as having conditions or limits upon it may have a bearing on how much damage that "authority" does, but it has no bearing on whether the underlying concept is rational.The United States Constitution, for example, is imagined to have created a very limited "authority," the right of which to rule was, in theory, severely restricted. Nonetheless, the Constitution still sought to create an "authority," with the right to do things, such as "tax" and "regulate," which the average citizen has no right to do on his own. Even though the Constitution pretended to give the right to rule only over certain specific matters, it still claimed to bestow a certain amount of "authority" upon a ruling class, and as such, is just as much a target of the following criticism of "authority" as the "authority" of a supreme dictator would be." Larken Rose, The Most Dangerous Superstition
  9. sc_2ea5bba3fbbcb32311d6d6551f20b238 It doesn't make sense to have taxes at all.
  10. sc_2ea5bba3fbbcb32311d6d6551f20b238 How is the popularity of an idea in any way relevant to its morality? Was slavery any less wrong because it was accepted by most people? Is theft any less wrong because a bunch of people think the money could be used for "good"? Is murder any less disgusting if it is painted in propaganda and executed by thousands? Does a changing the label change the inherent reality of a thing? Will arsenic be any less poisonous if the container is reads "strawberry jam"?
46 comments
Blake
Blake

“Imagine a libertarian president challenging Congress to bring about marriage equality.”

“Imagine a libertarian president ending impediments to free markets.”

“Imagine a libertarian president challenging Congress to repeal the PATRIOT Act.”

“Imagine a libertarian president challenging Congress for meaningful immigration reform.”

“The libertarian candidate for president is the only candidate talking about gun rights and gay rights in the same sentence.”

“The libertarian candidate for president is the only candidate that’s going to be talking about slashing welfare spending and warfare spending in the same sentence.” 

We all talk about minor and third-party candidates… What's we truly have are two OLD parties that have failed us, we need to look to NEW parties to help guide us towards the future… this year I'm voting LIBERTARIAN!

James R Herman
James R Herman

I'm inclined to vote for Gov Johnson this time. But I am disappointed that he does not support ending exclusionary zoning. But neither Obama nor Romney would end exclusionary zoning either. Like most Americans, I'm worried about our debt. It just isn't sustainable.

mbelleville
mbelleville

Craig, you and the other pro-libertarians commenting here prove my point. The Libertarian "view" that all taxes and most government are bad is not abroadly held view among independents and even most voetrs. Even the title of your piece that "Johnson has a message for voters with an axe to grind" rubs me the wrong way. If I don't agree with Johnson, if I don't agree with Libertarians, why would I vote for him just to grind an exe. How is that helpful?

I'm not voting for Obamney and I sure as hell am not voting Libertarian. But as I said in my original post, I DO hope he gets to debate so the American public can truly understand what he is advocating in the so called "Fair Tax" and its impliations. Save me the "schooling" on your libertarian perspective on taxation. I understand the perspective quite well.I just disagree with it. As will most voters when the learn about it

spiritsplice
spiritsplice

Playing along with the lie that, "your vote matters" is not helping the situation. It doesn't and can't. Presidents are not elected by popular vote nor are they selected by the people. To vote is to endorse the system, which is inherently corrupt and always has been. If we want liberty we must stop the constitution worship, we must stop believing in the myth of authority (that some can have a right to rule over others), we must stop approving of an immoral system.

And let us not pretend that Gary Johnson is some libertarian messiah. Did he ever try to abolish property taxes as Governor? Or State income tax? Get rid of traffic laws? Drivers Licensing? Public schools? I'll bet he never tried to do any of these.

Diana Brooks
Diana Brooks

One more :) Quinnipipiac University Polling Institute

203-582-5201

[email protected]

Diana Brooks
Diana Brooks

GL's supporters are calling Gallup, Rasmussen, and other national polling companies to tell them to include Gov. Gary Johnson in their polling. When these agencies report/show his polling at 15%+ , he is on the debate stage. :)

Gallup (Open M-F): +1.202.715.3030

Rasmussen: 732-776-9777

Pew Research: 202.419.4300

Zogby: 305-529-6280

CNN: 404.827.1500

Don Gordon
Don Gordon

@Paul No it's not. But his record as a sitting governor IS. As for political rhetoric, it comes with the territory, though I would certainly love to hear Johnson in the debate with the other two political party bobble-heads. I can assure you, that if he can muster the 15%, the debates will be anything BUT political rhetoric...

Don Gordon
Don Gordon

@Chad If he can garner the 15% threshold in polling that the two party politburo has set as an artificial threshold to keep out everyone but themselves. Doesn't it amaze you that the Commission on Presidential Debates is controlled by the Republican and Democratic parties? Stalin would have been proud. There's only ONE threshold that should matter in determining who gets to debate and that is ballot access. If a candidate is on a majority - feel free to insert your percent here - of ballots in the 50 states (in Johnson's case, he's on all 50) then he/she should be a part of the debates. PERIOD.

Chad Peace
Chad Peace

Gary Johnson will add an important element to the debate

John Tracey
John Tracey

There's also Jill Stein, Just sayin'.

Paul Grajciar
Paul Grajciar

Re-stating the obvious is not necessarily a requisite for viable candidacy. And neither is following that statement with political rhetoric.

Just another politico vying for power.

Don Gordon
Don Gordon

Shout out to America! There IS someone else running for Pres other than the two hacks from the Republican and Democratic parties, and he's quite a credible candidate. Are we that closed minded that we believe that only the dysfunctional two party system can produce individuals who can represent us in government? If so, then WE are the problem in Washington and in our state legislatures...

Antoinette Miller
Antoinette Miller

They sure have "blown it". They let greed lead them down a road of no return. They sold the people out and put their own desires before our country's needs. Both Democrats & Republicans have mis-led us and allowed us to become stepping stones, doormats and slaves for the corporatocratic ruling class. Our leaders are corrupt, from top to bottom.

mbelleville
mbelleville

I'd like t see Gary Johnson in the debates so he can defend why he wants to eliminate all taxes on business and how at the same time he will submit a balanced budget year one. His support of the so call "Fair Tax" is a non-starter for me.

The current debate is over the so called "Fair Tax". Definiton from fairtax.org

"The FairTax is a single-rate, federal retail sales tax collected only once, at the final point of purchase of new goods and services for personal consumption. Used items are not taxed. Business-to-business purchases for the production of goods and services are not taxed. A rebate makes the effective rate progressive. "

...

The so called "fair tax" replaces all federal income tax, perosonal and corporate. Since corporation (who for purposes of the Fair Tax aren't people) they basically pay zero.!!!!!

http://www.moneycrashers.com/fair-tax-act-explained-pros-cons/

Matt Metzner
Matt Metzner

I'd like to see Gary Johnson pick up steam heading into 2016. His record would definitely add a new element the upcoming debates although he is unlikely to get in the door.

spiritsplice
spiritsplice

There cannot be such a thing as a "libertarian president". Libertarians are defined by the non-aggression principle, which makes them necessarily anarchists. Presidents rule, free men do not have rulers.

Brad R. Schlesinger
Brad R. Schlesinger

If you're unhappy about exclusionary zoning, it is your local zoning board, homeowner associations, and county commission that should be on the receiving end of your enmity.

spiritsplice
spiritsplice

Screw the debt, what about your liberty? What about the theft? What about being told what you can eat, what you can own, how you can run your business, if you can defend yourself?

Craig D. Schlesinger
Craig D. Schlesinger

This is a common problem. My views on taxation and the size of the state are not due to a libertarian perspective. They are due to common sense, knowledge of history, countless hours spent studying markets and their functionality, actually acknowledging public choice theory, and living with my eyes open throughout the past twelve years. I don't ignore facts and empirical data simply because it might threaten my philosophy or worldview. Its simple public choice economics - can't emphasize it enough. When the state intervenes artificially in the economy, all you are left with are distorted markets and perverted incentives. This is just reality.

As for voting Gary Johnson, I don't care if you vote for him or not. Exercise your freewill and individual choice; after all, that's what my libertarian perspective is all about. But as independent minded voters, anything that threatens the political duopoly is good - like the inclusion of Gov. Johnson in the debates and an unprecedented showing in the general election.

Thanks, as always, for reading and engaging in this thread! I appreciate the feedback.

spiritsplice
spiritsplice

You disagree with people getting to keep their own money? You think theft is ok?

Craig D. Schlesinger
Craig D. Schlesinger

First, anyone who thinks anyone else is any kind of messiah is severely misguided ( I certainly don't). Second, you'll be hard pressed to find any executive - be it governor or president - in US history that cut government and vetoed legislation like Johnson did. Third, yes, public choice does explain why voting is largely futile - however - public awareness of liberty is at an all time high due to politicians like Johnson and Ron Paul. Then people start paying attention to the educational resources like the Institute for Humane Studies and Mercatus Center. Finally, you can't go from today's mess to a stateless society over night. Its going to take some incremental change, a Marginal Revolution, if you will (apologies to Tyler Cowen: http://marginalrevolution.com/).

I had this discussion recently at my blog, including a very long winded comment thread: http://spatialorientation.com/2012/06/06/philosophical-dogma-and-infighting-within-the-liberty-movement/

Craig D. Schlesinger
Craig D. Schlesinger

If by vying for power you mean the power to reduce the size and power of the federal government and politicians that clutch the reigns ever so slightly, then yes.

Craig D. Schlesinger
Craig D. Schlesinger

Corporate taxes are a double tax. The most basic economic models illustrate how raising taxes has a detrimental effect on output. Thats why tax revenue as a share of GDP has historically been at 18-20%, regardless of marginal rates. Even when they were sky high. See here (graph included): http://reason.com/blog/2010/11/29/the-remarkably-stable-amount-o

I want entrepreneurs to have all the money they can to put into R&D, expansions, new ventures, etc. More money for business means more innovation, more competition, more investment, more employment, more certainty in the marketplace, better compensation, and a much more stable freely moving pricing system (in which prices would actually come down instead of perpetually rising). The tax code results in companies spending tons of money on accountants, lawyers, and lobbyists to tilt the field in their favor rather than investing/spending their free cash flow in/on productive endeavors.

Finally, a tax on corporations creates an incentive problem, as explained by public choice theory (http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PublicChoice.html). Companies will engage in rent seeking (http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/RentSeeking.html) behavior to counteract the taxation. It goes on all day every day in Washington. Removing taxes on businesses largely removes the incentive to lobby Washington for special loopholes.

There is one reason why companies pick up and move out of the USA - taxes.

Blake
Blake

I'm not and I personally know many libertarians that are NOT anarchists... We believe in LIMITED government and the constitution.

.

Perhaps, we should talk...

spiritsplice
spiritsplice

You seem to be under the delusion that people want freedom, they don't. Those of us who do are an aberration in human thought. We have alwasy been the minority throughout history and the people have always done whatever they can to get rid of us and our ideals. This is not going to change. You can't even appeal to people morally about taxation being theft. The reverence for authority is far too strong. Mencken was right.

davidmoreno
davidmoreno

Man, I don't think I could have seen a better response to someone who didn't understand that basic idea. Anyone who has a cursory understanding of economics will understand that taxes will ALWAYS have an effect on pricing. More tax => higher price => lower demand => less revenue => More tax to compensate. It just doesn't make sense to continue to have different taxing standards for everyone. An end product consumption tax basically means that if you buy/use more goods, you'll give the government more money. People with more money tend to spend on more frivolous things waaaaay more often than poorer people, resulting in the poor paying less (or none with the standard of living rebate).

watrfrnt
watrfrnt

my apologies.. for clarity.. how can disputes be resolved? (not regulated)

watrfrnt
watrfrnt

spiritsplice - morality is important but even on the topic of morality different people have many different views... how many churchs/faiths exist? which is the most popular? Do they all have the 'TRUTH?'

.

My question concerning how many people agree with you is relevent. If an idea, moral or not, is accepted or not accepted by a group, the idea will tend to die...

.

If I interpret you correctly, you suggest we scrap the status quo for no authority... no government... now! Is this like giving a kid the car keys and say 'go for it dude'... what harm could come from letting someone that has problems governing themselves to have no limits????

.

I feel that anarchism as moral as you make it out to be can't work unless everyone, or at least a sizable number, of the group agrees... Read Heinlien's 'Moon is a Harsh Mistress'

.

Call it government or call it community standards or call it a giant HOA... humans will always want to 'control' other humans until we agree it is counter productive or as you aptly put it immoral...

.

now back to dispute resolution - please discuss how in an anarchist society disputes can be regulated... you pick the dispute and we'll discuss...

.

these are important issues!!!

spiritsplice
spiritsplice

Blake,

How is the popularity of an idea in any way relevant to its morality? Was slavery any less wrong because it was accepted by most people? Is theft any less wrong because a bunch of people think the money could be used for “good”? Is murder any less disgusting if it is painted in propaganda and executed by thousands? Does a changing the label change the inherent reality of a thing? Will arsenic be any less poisonous if the container is reads “strawberry jam”?

sc_2ea5bba3fbbcb32311d6d6551f20b238
sc_2ea5bba3fbbcb32311d6d6551f20b238

How is the popularity of an idea in any way relevant to its morality? Was slavery any less wrong because it was accepted by most people? Is theft any less wrong because a bunch of people think the money could be used for "good"? Is murder any less disgusting if it is painted in propaganda and executed by thousands? Does a changing the label change the inherent reality of a thing? Will arsenic be any less poisonous if the container is reads "strawberry jam"?

watrfrnt
watrfrnt

Ahhh.. Of course I meant your comment (unable to edit)...

.

Another question... w/o any 'authority' how are disputes settled?

Blake
Blake

How many of the people you know agree with you comment about government not being necessary?

spiritsplice
spiritsplice

There is no need for government. This idea is based on the mistaken notion that a person can have authority to tell another what to do. Government is a fiction, an excuse used by people to control others. Since no person has the right to control others, to steal from others, to lock others up for owning things they do not like, no one can give this right to others (called government). You cannot give something you do not have.

"Every "law" and "tax" (federal, state and local), every election and campaign, every license and permit, every political debate and movement—in short, everything having to do with "government," from some trivial town ordinance to a "world war"—rests entirely upon the idea that some people can acquire the moral right—in one way or another, to one degree or another—to rule over others.

The issue here is not just the misuse of "authority," or an argument about "good

government" versus "bad government," but an examination of the fundamental,

underlying concept of "authority." Whether an "authority" is seen as absolute or as

having conditions or limits upon it may have a bearing on how much damage that

"authority" does, but it has no bearing on whether the underlying concept is rational.

The United States Constitution, for example, is imagined to have created a very

limited "authority," the right of which to rule was, in theory, severely restricted.

Nonetheless, the Constitution still sought to create an "authority," with the right to

do things, such as "tax" and "regulate," which the average citizen has no right to do

on his own. Even though the Constitution pretended to give the right to rule only

over certain specific matters, it still claimed to bestow a certain amount of "authority"

upon a ruling class, and as such, is just as much a target of the following criticism

of "authority" as the "authority" of a supreme dictator would be." Larken Rose, The Most Dangerous Superstition

Blake
Blake

Are you an anarchist? Please help us understand the need for government.... or lack of a need...

spiritsplice
spiritsplice

Limited government cannot exist. If you aren't an anarchist then you believe in coercion, therefore you are not a libertarian. You are a statist.

davidmoreno
davidmoreno

Cool, my twin will like the quote and the link.

Craig D. Schlesinger
Craig D. Schlesinger

Not at all. I'm the first to say that liberty is counterintuitive to the masses. That's why people like Paul and Johnson help the cause by growing the movement. They take extremely palatable ideas to people that otherwise might never be inclined to think as such. As far as things not changing, I'd like to borrow a quote from my favorite band, Rush (and more specifically my favorite lyricist, Neil Peart, who just came out as a bleeding heart libertarian to Rolling Stone): "No, his mind is not for rent /To any god or government / Always hopeful, yet discontent / He knows changes aren't permanent / But change is"

http://www.mediaite.com/online/rush-drummer-neil-peart-denounces-ayn-rand-im-a-bleeding-heart-libertarian/