Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gary Johnson, Libertarian?

Lew Rockwell has posted this interview that Bob Wenzel has conducted with Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson.  To summarize: I know libertarians, and Gary Johnson is no libertarian.

It is too bad that the Libertarian Party has moved so far from a party of ideas.  Ron Paul has demonstrated how far a platform of libertarian ideas can go – from fringe thinking to where he regularly polls as equal to Obama in national elections.

He has set the table for others to build upon.    The Libertarian Party could carry this torch, but failed to do so in 2008 and now also in 2012.  In Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party has a candidate that speaks better on social, military, and economic issues than do those with mainstream Republican (Romney) and Democrat (Obama) positions.

But they do not have a libertarian, one with an understanding of liberty deep enough that he can teach.  From the interview, while it is clear Johnson has not read Mises, Rothbard, or Hazlitt, it is not so clear that he has even heard of these men. 

He cites Milton Friedman as his major influence of libertarian thinking – for example, Friedman’s (apparent) position on people being allowed to keep their gross pay and then writing a check to the government – thus seeing first-hand the direct economic bite that government costs the individual.  Bob Wenzel properly points out that it was Friedman that developed the entire mechanism of payroll tax withholding. 

Johnson goes on to cite Cato and Reason as sources of his libertarian education.  In the case of Cato, they are only libertarian in the context of dialogue acceptable to the oligarchy – attempts at influencing policy towards a government that doesn’t grow as fast in all the places government is growing today.  In the case of Reason, as I have mentioned before, 30 years ago I found much in Reason that helped move me along in my libertarian journey.  As time advanced, i found Reason to be more libertine than libertarian.  In any case, the magazine’s attacks in the past of Ron Paul were sufficient for me to count them out.

The Libertarian Party has once again succeeded in nominating a candidate not only certain to lose the election (however, given the state of ballot access laws that significantly penalize third parties of all stripes, this is almost a certainty no matter the candidate) but also one that cannot help lead the movement forward – Gary Johnson cannot do this because he has no knowledge or education on the true foundations of freedom and liberty.

The lessor of three evils, while perhaps significantly better than the lessor of two evils…well, it isn’t good enough.  And it won’t do anything to advance the cause.

But perhaps that is the point of nominating individuals like Bob Barr in 2008, and now Gary Johnson today.


  1. Wendell got to play "Stump the Chump" and came off making Johnson look like a fool. I wonder if those memories keep Wenzel warm at night.

    Johnson only recently came to the realization that he's a Libertarian. He has not boned up on the books all the "cool kids" in the Libertarian Party know by heart like people who spout off Monty Python by heart with a British accent at a Sci-Fi convention.

    What Johnson has proven is that he can govern like a Libertarian. He vetoed so much B.S. wasteful spending as New Mexico's governor, pardoned non-violent marijuana offenders and took New Mexico from a major deficit to a $1 billion surplus. No one can take away Gary's proven record, not even if Wenzel thinks Gary's an upstart who didn't listen to the cool band before it was popular.

    Wenzel doesn't like Gary. The tone in the interview clearly shows his bias.

    I like Gary based on a proven record. Not because he read the Libertarian equivalent of Lord of the Rings and can cite all the cool lines.

  2. "Johnson only recently came to the realization that he's a Libertarian."

    Maybe so. My main point in the article was not about Johnson but about the Libertarian Party. They will not win the election, they know they will not win the election. this is true of any candidate nominated by any third party given the rules of the game. The best course they can take is to educate.

    They do not have a candidate that is well versed enough to do this job. That is what I take from the interview.

    "Wenzel doesn't like Gary. The tone in the interview clearly shows his bias."

    What I took from Wenzel's tone was that he afforded Johnson the opportunity to explain how he came to these beliefs. Wenzel regularly couched his comments by pointing out that "hard-core libertarians" would take exception.

    That Johnson does not realize this without Wenzel telling him is only evidence of my first point above.