The libertarian case against Gary Johnson

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Kevin_Kennedy, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    It's been claimed on this board in the past that Gary Johnson is more of a libertarian than Ron Paul, but usually by those who aren't libertarians and probably have little to no knowledge as to what a libertarian actually stands for. This perception mostly comes down to Johnson being pro-choice which is popularly believed to be the libertarian position on the issue, despite the fact that there is no actual libertarian consensus on the issue. In another thread I was asked why I wouldn't vote for Gary Johnson, who I presume will win the Libertarian Party nomination for President, so I'll explain here so as not to derail that thread.

    Johnson was great as Governor of New Mexico, and I thought that he was somebody that I could support for President, but after a while it became clear that he wasn't really much of a libertarian at all.

    Johnson supports for the so-called "Fair Tax" as a replacement to the federal income tax. Now while I'm sure this would simplify the tax code, and I have no problem with that in an of itself, this is not a libertarian position. The libertarian position would be to eliminate the income tax, repeal the 16th amendment, and replace it with absolutely nothing. No Fair Tax, and no Flat Tax. The libertarian doesn't believe that the government has any right to the fruits of our labor, and is supposed to believe in limited government. Therefore the libertarian would essentially advocate "starving the beast."

    Johnson has claimed in the past that we need Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRlGXuGHfrc]Governor Gary Johnson I would not close Gitmo.wmv - YouTube[/ame]

    Now this really goes without saying, but a libertarian wouldn't believe that the government should be engaged in torture or indefinite detention. Now I remember that nearly a week after Johnson said this on Freedom Watch he put on his issues page that he would close Guantanamo Bay. Today the only mention I could find was this:

    Foreign Policy

    So Gary Johnson has essentially come down on two different sides to the issue of Guantanamo Bay, so who knows what he really believes?

    Johnson has said in the past that he would be "uncomfortable" allowing a genocide to occur somewhere around the world, which essentially amounts to him wanting America to be the policeman of the world. Certainly to a lesser extent than say a Rick Santorum, but a libertarian doesn't advocate an interventionist foreign policy.

    So that is why I won't be able to vote for Gary Johnson in the general election should be turnout to be the Libertarian Party nominee.
     
  2. Late2TheParty
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    Late2TheParty Classical Liberal

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    If RP doesn't get the nomination, I will vote for Gary Johnson.

    He's not an ideal flag bearer, but he's better than the mainstream candidates.

    I respect your decision and thought process on this though and agree with many points.
     
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  3. dblack
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    dblack Gold Member

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    Same here. He's far, far better than Barr.
     
  4. JoeB131
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    JoeB131 Diamond Member

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    So your problem with Gary Johnson is that unlike Ron Paul, he's actually an adult who realizes that there are realities in politics?

    Seriously, this is the best you got?
     
  5. Paulie
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    Paulie Platinum Member

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    Yeah god forbid someone is principled and doesn't sit in the middle of every issue.
     
  6. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    "Flip flopping, the adult thing to do."
     
  7. dblack
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    dblack Gold Member

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    Thanks for posting this Kevin. I'd hoped to discuss this with you at some point.

    I'd don't see much to be gained from debating who's more 'libertarian'. And while I do happen to think that the pro-choice position is the only one consistent with basic libertarian principles, you're right to point out that there's not a strong consensus in the party proper.

    But I think it's wrong to cite Johnson's willingness to compromise as a weakness. The painful fact is, it's patently unrealistic to think that, even if a libertarian president were elected, Congress would repeal the income tax. Ideally, of course we want to limit government to what can be financed without overbearing intrusive policies like income tax. But in the mean time, the graduated income tax is a significant tool of government control. I'm not very excited about the Fair Tax either, but it's much more politically realistic, and would change things for the better. I can't begrudge Johnson for that.

    Sound bites on Fox don't count for much when it comes to real, complex policy decisions. I think you know where I stand on Guantanamo, and I certainly didn't like his answer in the video. But you're looking at answers to two different questions. The first was, should we close Guantanamo and let everyone go? The second is, should people be held there indefinitely without due process?

    I'd like to know more about Johnson's views on this before I vote for him. But it raises an important point about why I think he would be a better leader than Paul, regardless of whether he's "more libertarian" or not. The most significant difference between Paul and Johnson, in my view, is that Johnson actually has executive leadership experience. Paul has always had the 'liberty' of being on the sidelines critiquing leadership. He's done a fantastic job at that, and his role has been invaluable, but it's not the same thing as trying to lead a government in the face of powerful opposition. When you're in that position, it's counter-productive to take extreme positions you can't implement. Leading means persuading the majority to do the right thing, and sometimes that requires compromise and selective battles. It requires choosing the best viable solution, which won't always be ideologically pure. This is why you see Johnson proposing policies like the Fair Tax, and considering the possibility that closing Gitmo this instant might be bad. We may not agree with his comments, and I'd urge him to take a harder line on both of those positions, but I respect that he takes the issues seriously enough to avoid the easy sound bite.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  8. JoeB131
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    JoeB131 Diamond Member

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    Ummmm, yeah.

    Or realizing that opinions have changed on an issue.
     
  9. JoeB131
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    JoeB131 Diamond Member

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    There's being principled, and there's being batshit crazy.

    Of course, when you have a leaderless GOP that's afraid to call out the batshit, lest the batshittery go to a third party, and quivering in fear at a Talk Radio Rodeo Clown when he makes the most outrageous statements, then, yes, I guess you do have a problem.

    Paul should have been squashed like a bug a long time ago.
     
  10. Kevin_Kennedy
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    Kevin_Kennedy Defend Liberty

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    I'm not critiquing Johnson for being willing to compromise. I'm critiquing Johnson for setting the bar so low to begin with. As I pointed out in that post, the Fair Tax may be superior to the income tax, but why make the Fair Tax an end in and of itself? The libertarian position is that the income tax should be repealed and replaced with nothing. If one were to compromise for a Fair Tax that does simplify the tax code and does lower taxes then that's a positive step, but it's still only a step. Johnson is making it an end.

    When it comes to Guantanamo if you watch the video neither Johnson nor the Judge makes the distinction that you do. Nor does the Judge put the question in the way that you describe it. It's not only a choice between closing Gitmo and letting the prisoners go, or keeping Gitmo open. He also asks whether or not the prisoners should be tried for their alleged offenses. Johnson's answer is that we would need to "create that situation," a situation which included torture and indefinite detention, somewhere else if we didn't have Guantanamo Bay open, and he says that he agrees that they're "enemy combatants." That sounds like he supports the program in its current incarnation to me.
     

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