The Tea Party movement brought us more than a few Republicans who described themselves as “libertarian”, only to advance the agenda of the televangelist lobby once they were elected to office. Beyond that, the “tax reform” they espouse applies only to corporations and the wealthy, with the middle class left to pay the difference to the Corporate Welfare State.
The 2012 Presidential campaign is now wide-open with the entry of an authentic libertarian, who has jumped into contention for the Republican nomination. Although Ron Paul (a former Presidential nominee, representing the Libertarian Party in the 1988 election) has been receiving more than a little encouragement to make another White House bid (he won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference – CPAC) his age is a huge obstacle. As Congressman Paul approaches his 76th birthday, many consider him too old for the job.
April 21 brought us the entry of Gary Johnson, a former Governor of New Mexico, into the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination. At age 58, he is an active triathlete, who successfully climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest in 2003. This guy brings loads of excitement into the race and is likely the only Republican who could defeat Barack Obama. Gary Johnson’s support from outside the ranks of the Republican Party extends – not only to Independent voters – but to Democrats. That’s right. Gary Johnson could actually win the votes of a significant number of Democrats – something no other Republican could accomplish. Republicans are going to have to take Johnson very seriously. Nevertheless, Gary Johnson will surely make the televangelist lobby sick with his hardcore libertarian views.
Some recent articles about Johnson are the stuff of Bill O’Reilly’s worst nightmares. For example, an April 20 piece by Christian Heinze for The Hill included this tidbit about the new candidate:
He’s running for the Republican presidential nomination on a platform that calls for withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq – a position that’s anathema to the party’s ruling class. He also supports abortion rights and, most controversially, favors legalizing marijuana.
See what I mean? Johnson has the guts to speak out for the changes which many Democratic voters would like to see – and which Barack Obama would never even bother to include among his trademark, false campaign promises.
Republican pundits regularly emphasize the importance of a candidate’s history of success in the business world, which is perhaps why they are now fretting that the party could be stuck with Donald Trump as its 2012 nominee. Willard Romney’s inherited wealth gave him the opportunity to participate in the private equity business (Bain Capital) which he left in 1999 to become CEO of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. As a result, Romney has been able to contrast that background against the qualifications of his political opponents, who have generally spent their adult lives at the public trough. Gary Johnson presents a fresh challenge to Romney in the area of business credentials. Johnson started his own construction business in the 1970s and became a self-made millionaire.
As a two-term Governor of New Mexico, Johnson didn’t hesitate to veto bills. He used the veto pen more than 750 times and kept the state budget under control.
Johnson’s view of the 2012 budget proposed by Congressional Republicans is not likely to win him any new friends in the party’s establishment. Here is what we learned from The Hill:
He claims the biggest threat to U.S. security is the nation’s debt, and to show how serious he is about fighting it, he says Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposed budget actually isn’t serious enough.
“It takes too long, and only get us a quarter of where we should be many years down the road,” he said.
One of the more informative essays about Gary Johnson was written by Niall Stanage for Salon on May 5, 2010. That piece points out how Johnson doesn’t have much use for Rush Limbaugh or Jesus, which could cause him some trouble with the Republican base – many of whom have trouble differentiating between those two individuals. Worse yet, the people at Fox News probably pulled out their hair after reading this:
Ask Johnson what he thinks of Barack Obama, for instance, and rather than the stream of vitriol that might issue semi-automatically from the lips of some party colleagues, he answers: “You can’t help but like him.”
Obama, he says, “touched” him with his rhetoric during the 2008 campaign, though he adds that the president has proven disappointing and disingenuous since then.
After reading that remark, I was on the verge of giving Gary Johnson my unqualified endorsement. Let’s see how he does on the campaign trail.
The 2012 Presidential race just became really interesting!