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Author’s note: As the Independent Voter Network is a non-profit, non-partisan website, the following is not a collective endorsement, but my personal opinion and my personal opinion alone. I appreciate the employment IVN has given me so that I may air my personal views and reasoning in this space. Any mistakes, accidental misrepresentations, and intemperance is mine. ~CW
A few days ago I wrote an article for the Opinion page making “The Conservative Case Against Mitt Romney.” For the sake of brevity, I confined myself to approximately 1500 words – no small feat for us verbose pontificators. In the same vein, I considered writing another piece entitled, “The Conservative Case for Nobody” because for one reason or another all of the candidates running in 2012 are not just imperfect, but seriously flawed.
As my profile page on this site discloses, I’m a registered Republican, so I am naturally drawn to Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party. The Green Party’s Jill Stein has received plenty of coverage at the main site and any coverage for candidates outside the duopoly is good. While I agree with her on a few issues I just can’t support a Green.
2012 is my third presidential election and it’s the third different party I will have supported. I voted for Bush – enthusiastically – in 2004 while I was still swilling the GOP Kool Aid. I voted for Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party in 2008 and I’m still happy with that vote. This year the CP nominated former congressman Virgil Goode and while I generally agree with him on cultural and immigration issues, he still does not seem to have completely shed his support for some of the more offensive Bush-era proposals like the Patriot Act and Iraq. Goode is better than most current and former Republicans, but I feel like a Goode vote is still a big compromise and the point of voting for a third party is to be more exacting in the requirements to receive my vote.
This is one of the only times I can really say this, but it is a luxury to reside in Illinois, a state whose outcome is not in doubt. There is literally nothing I can do to thwart the re-election of Obama. Not having a stake in who prevails in this episode of Tuesday Night Raw means I can take solace in voting my conscience. Settling for a seriously flawed candidate undermines the whole point of casting a protest vote for someone who can’t win.
I have relatively few requirements a presidential candidate must meet. A prudent foreign policy is one of them because it is the arena where the president has the most influence. Bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran-John-McCain fell far short of my threshold. I could have considered Romney only if he fired all his neoconservative advisers and spurned his rhetoric about “American Exceptionalism” and “leading the free world,” political euphemisms for a worldview that presupposes America has a divine birthright to govern the earth.
Other requirements include fidelity to the Constitution and the right-to-life. I’m willing to tolerate earmarks, deviations on trade, top-down financial regulation, plans for climate change that involve government, and maybe even tax raises. I don’t think of myself as an ideologue, so I’m willing to tolerate imperfection positions that he doesn’t directly pass as long as he represents a foreign policy rooted in the national interest, obeys the Constitution to a reasonable degree, and realizes that a person’s liberty begins at the moment of conception. Unfortunately, neither Mitt Romney nor President Obama even approach this threshold.
Gary Johnson has many fine qualities as a candidate and one of them is his basic honesty. However, he also has a few that are highly questionable, beginning with an interview he granted to the Weekly Standard, the Baghdad Bob of the Bush administration, where he indicated:
“If there’s a clear genocide somewhere, don’t we really want to positively impact that kind of a situation? . . . Isn’t that what we’re all about? Isn’t that what we’ve always been about?”
Debunking the claim that stopping genocide is “what we’ve always been about” would require more time and space, but it was enough to make me uncomfortable because he essentially revealed the way he could be manipulated into an unwise intervention.
How is it that the governing class and its media stenographers sell the public on interventions that are not based on the American interest? Mass graves. The next Hitler. To stop a genocide. Could Johnson rebuff the most influential congressional hawks in both parties and media outlets on both sides clamoring for Bashar al-Assad’s head?
The catch here is that Johnson wasn’t bamboozled into supporting Iraq or Libya, the latest interventions that were most certainly not based on the national interest. In the case of Iraq, it was at least partially sold on grounds of national interest and its continuance justified on humanitarian ones, so despite a poor choice of words, Johnson has shown that when it counted, he had the right judgment.
The other hang-up I’ve had with Johnson is that he would be the first pro-choice candidate I’ve ever supported, but Johnson is a candidate who is both pro-choice and anti-Roe.
As puzzling as it may seem, Johnson opposes the infamous 1973 court decision because it took the matter out of the hands of the individual states. Johnson’s position is not my preference, but he does justice to the Constitution which is silent on institutionalized infanticide. And as someone who is not a natural politician and clearly not pandering, he deserves more respect than George H. W. Bush and Mitt Romney who made shameless pro-life conversions to snooker faithful, if misguided Christians into supporting them, by which each politico meant protecting unborn life from the moment of conception until the moment the GOP nomination was secured.
An added incentive to vote for Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, is that he is one of the few third party candidates who might get enough votes that the media and major parties will have to pay attention. I hold no illusions that he will get the 5% needed to get federal funding and equal ballot access in 2016, but he has a chance to earn the most votes in the history of the LP and if he breaks even 2% it will be a victory, however small, against the status quo.
Johnson is not my dream candidate. He is wrong on humanitarian intervention, the beginning of life, and open borders, but he is procedurally right on abortion, civil liberties, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the Constitution.
Upon ascending the French throne in 1589, the Huguenot Henry of Navarre reportedly said, “Paris is worth a mass.” Gary Johnson is worth a vote.