As the Gary Johnson campaign surges forward and his poll numbers continue to rise (thanks mostly, I suspect, to the efforts of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton), he continues to take flak from some of the more doctrinaire libertarians.
To them I can only say, grow up.
Yes, Johnson is not the pure libertarian that many, myself included, would like to see. Indeed, I would say the Libertarian Party is not as libertarian as I would like to see.
For example, abortion is NOT a libertarian value and the Libertarian Party has long disappointed me in refusing to see that allowing a mother to kill her child violates one of the core principles of libertarianism: the nonaggression principle (as Murray Rothbard defined it in 1963: “No one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor.”)
The point is, there is no such thing as the perfect candidate. I disagree with Gary Johnson on about 12 percent of his positions, according to http://ISideWith.com.
And that’s OK.
As Ronald Reagan reportedly said, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.”
Ed Koch said it even better: “Agree with me on nine of 12 issues, vote for me. Agree with me on 12 of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.”
This is an election. There are four candidates who can legally win. Your job as a voter is to choose the one who most closely aligns with your belief system. You will never find the 100 percent candidate.
You can always waste your vote by casting it for someone simply because they are not the other person or because you don’t think a better candidate can win.
You can also protest by refusing to vote, voting for a candidate who can’t legally win, or writing in someone who is not a candidate.
But that is all it is. A protest.
Meanwhile, there is an election going on and one of the four will win. I would rather participate in the process and try to elect the best of those four, which is clearly Gov. Johnson for a whole host of reasons that I will articulate more on during the next 93 days.
Some Libertarians are likely upset that this is the third election in a row where the nominee was a former Republican politician (U.S. Rep. Bob Barr in 2008 and Johnson in 2012). They forget that before Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican president, he was a former Whig politician.
If the party is going to grow, it will have to attract members from the other two parties. It can’t keep running dogmatically pure libertarians and hope to survive. There needs to be a little bit of pragmatism.
I like voted for Barr but I was never under any illusion he was a libertarian and he proved it by rejoining the Republican Party in 2011.
While Johnson was a former GOP governor, he governed almost like a libertarian, taking a small-government approach to every issue. He vetoed 200 of 424 bills in his first six months in office, a national record. He reduced government growth and cut taxes.
These are things the Republican Party used to support as well. But no longer. Today’s Republicans are big-government tyrants as much as the Democrats are.
Indeed, I suspect Reagan, if he were alive today, would be telling us the Republican Party left him and he would be joining the Libertarian Party.
But I digress.
Those libertarians who oppose Johnson because they don’t see him as a real libertarian are missing the point.
Call him a moderate Republican. Call him a conservative Democrat. Call him whatever you like. He is essentially fiscally conservative and socially liberal, like most Americans. Not exactly a libertarian, but close.
But he is the most libertarian candidate running for president. And if we want a free country that adheres to the principles of our Founders, then we need to start electing candidates who are 8o percent and 90 percent libertarian who will push us toward that end.
That is far better than running a 100 percent libertarian and never winning.
Meanwhile, take the quiz at http://ISideWith.com and see with whom you best align. For most of you, I bet it is Gary Johnson.
Thomas J. Lucente Jr. is an attorney with the Hearn Law Office in Wapakoneta (419-738-8171) and night editor of The Lima News. Reach him by telephone at 567-242-0398, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @ThomasLucente.