What is a Libertarian?
Hi. My name is Michael, and I’m a Libertarian. I say it like that because it almost feels as big a stigma as admitting I’m an alcoholic. There are some pretty strange ideas about what a Libertarian looks like, and realistically, that makes perfect sense. That’s because Libertarianism should, by definition, attract a very diverse group of people.
For instance, the Libertarian platform supports the right for anyone to marry anyone. Score one for the left. It also supports lower tax rates for everyone, including businesses. Score one for the right. It supports the right for people to have access to drugs such as alcohol and marijuana. Score one for young adults. It supports a smaller government with fewer laws and regulations which could eventually lead to the revocation of laws that allow people to be targeted by police (such as misdemeanors, jay-walking, panhandling, broken tail-lights, loitering, etc). Score one for the poor and targeted minorities.
There is a misconception that Libertarians are for no government. That would be anarchists, not Libertarians. Libertarians believe in limited government. There should only be the amount of government and law necessary to secure the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Now, this article is not really about Libertarianism. However, I thought it necessary to at least touch on what it means a little before going on because I have done a reasonable amount of research on former Governor Gary Johnson, who is running for President of the United States in 2016 and is endorsed by the Libertarian Party. I would say he is the Libertarian candidate but that might confuse things a bit because he’s not actually allowed to run as a Libertarian candidate in all States. In fact, in some, such as Ohio, he will be listed as an Independent.
Who is Gary Johnson?
Gary Johnson was born in 1953 in North Dakota. In 1975 he graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. During college he made money as a door to door handyman. In 1976 he started his own company, Big J Enterprises. It was a mechanical contracting company that started as just him. When he sold it in 1999 it was a multi-million dollar construction company that employed over 1,000 people.
His political career started when he ran for Governor of New Mexico in 1994 as a Republican. He won against a Democratic incumbent and kept his campaign promise of reducing the 10% annual growth of the State budget. In order to do so he vetoed 200 of 424 bills in just his first 6 months and used his line-item veto on nearly every other bill. He earned himself the nickname “Governor Veto”. According to former New Mexico Republican National Committee member Mickey D. Barnett, “Any time someone approached him about legislation for some purpose, his first response always was to ask if government should be involved in that to begin with.” However, that didn’t stop him from increasing spending on education by ⅓ during his first term because he understands the value of an educated constituency.
Governor Johnson was re-elected in 1998. After seeing that his plan to improve education by putting more money into public schools failed, he attempted twice to introduce a voucher system which would allow students in poorer performing schools to go to the school of their choice, on the government’s tab. Unfortunately, the Democratic majority congress refused to do vouchers and both initiatives were blocked. Governor Johnson did not run for a third term due to term limits for Governor of New Mexico.
What are his stances on the major issues?
In 2000 Gary Johnson joined others who pointed out that the war on drugs had been largely unsuccessful and very expensive. He feels that drug addiction should be treated primarily as a health issue, not a criminal issue. He is for the legalization of marijuana and for currently illegal narcotics to be treated instead like other restricted narcotics currently used by doctors. It’s not that he is against education about and restrictions on the use of marijuana. However, he feels that the end result of the war on drugs has been much like that of prohibition.
The tax code has been used as a tool for government to pick winners and losers in a wide variety of areas. Providing tax incentives for some activities but not others has affected decisions such as:
- Whether or not to get married
- Whether or not to use debt to buy a house
- What kinds of investments to invest in
- What kinds of savings accounts to put money in
- What country to put your corporate headquarters in
The list goes on and on. Ironically, many of the people I hear crying about corporations “not paying their fair share” seem to be forgetting two things. First, most of them are obeying the law and paying exactly what the law requires of them. Second, the consumer pays their taxes. The money that any corporation receives to qualify it to pay taxes comes from me. So, why not lift the complex veil of secrecy and have a flat consumption tax so that for the first time ever we might begin to actually see just how much money the government has been taking from us?
The Federal Budget
Speaking of taking money from us, apparently we don’t have enough to take. So, the Federal Government has been borrowing from foreign countries at an alarming rate. Gary Johnson would require a truly balanced budget. No gimmicks, no borrowing, an actual balanced budget where the citizens of the United States contribute directly to the funding of necessary Federal Government services. I know, it’s unheard of. Inconceivable. But it’s more than necessary. The current 2017 U.S. federal budget is $503 billion. Total spending is $4.1 trillion. That means we are projected to spend 13.8% more than we take in. Let’s not forget the fact that we owe about $14 trillion already. As Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson vetoed spending bills and line items in spending bills to reduce government spending.
Despite being on the receiving end of term limits himself, Gary Johnson is in favor of enacting term limits on congressmen in order to curtail the negative effects of having career politicians. At some point, campaigning becomes nothing more than job security and even the best intentioned person can become stuck in the rut of focusing on the next election instead of on the real work and issues necessary to keep the government running. I would point to the existence of large regulatory bodies which have taken the place of lawmakers in many ways as one of the unintended negative side effects of career politicians.
There has been a great deal of information revealed about the extent to which the U.S. government has been spying on it’s citizens. At best, there have been easily obtained warrants requiring almost no evidence. At worst, there hasn’t even been that. The Federal Government has even attempted to require private companies to intentionally weaken the security of their systems by building in secret back-doors that would give the Federal Government access to all encrypted data and computer systems. Gary Johnson is against this kind of all-invasive and all-knowing government intrusion.
Gary Johnson’s strategy for illegal immigration is a unique one. Fix the immigration system. I know, that shouldn’t seem unique. Yet, with all of the talk about immigration going on the simple fact of how complicated and expensive and, quite honestly, seemingly arbitrary the system is it’s no wonder people choose the easier route. That would be illegal immigration. Having gone through the entire process from temporary foreign worker to permanent resident to citizen I can assure you that every natural born citizen I have told my story to has been shocked at how hard it all has been. I wonder if H1-B visas still have the education exemption for fashion models (no I’m not kidding).
But You’re a Christian
Some people might wonder how I, as a very conservative Christian can support a candidate who is for same sex marriage and marijuana. It’s pretty simple, really. From my point of view, the government needn’t be involved in marriage at all. Marriage is a religious ceremony and many different religions do it differently. This is a country that espouses the freedom of religion for good reason. So, if the government wants to give permission to people to marry animals it really doesn’t affect me because I’m not going to marry an animal. As for marijuana, honestly, I see it as being about as dangerous as alcohol. There are many things in this country that are legal that I will never do. It doesn’t mean they should be illegal.
It’s Not a Wasted Vote
I have encountered many people who have said they agree with most of what the Libertarian Party, and Gary Johnson, stand for but aren’t willing to throw away their vote. The Democrats I know don’t really like Hillary but are terrified of Trump. The Republicans I know don’t like Trump but are terrified of Hillary. Most folks seem to be encouraging each other to vote against the “other” candidate instead of “for” any candidate. And really, who can blame them? But seriously, I’m going to vote “for” Gary Johnson because he is “for” the Federal Government following its constitutional limitations and “for” more freedom and less debt for us all. Please read more about Gary Johnson and his running mate, former Governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld at http://www.johnsonweld.com/ and consider voting for Gary Johnson for President of the United States.