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Pragmatism Vs. Purity: Gary Johnson For President

Years ago, the Libertarian Party touted itself as the “party of principle.”

Those days are now gone.

gary johnson photoThe current ticket of ex-governors Gary Johnson and William Weld are pragmatists, pure and simple. They pay some lip service to–and one would hope actually believe in–shrinking government by measures such as abolishing the IRS and the Department of Education, getting the U.S. out of wars and closing many of our military bases, i.e., traditional Libertarian views as well as a very few other such traditional party platforms.

Yet they have made a calculated effort–guided no doubt by some youthful advisor–to court the left in their bid for the White House. The disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters are their main choice of converts not, as in past LP campaigns, the free market Republicans sick of cronyism, betrayal and intentional misrepresentations of capitalism.

I attribute this leftward pitch by the Johnson/Weld ticket to the fact that, well, the country HAS swung to the left.

Conservatives and free market advocates are now always on the defensive, having to constantly apologize for their views and prove that they are really good people as opposed to proudly proclaiming that they are reality-based economical and cultural thinkers.

And today, above all, such advocates must prove, grovel, apologize and plead that they’re not racists and/or bigots because they invoke the Founder Fathers or Austrian economists. Somewhere here recently in our culture the terms individualism and capitalism got hijacked as “racist” and “bigoted”–currently the greatest sins of all–and those accusations are thrown around so casually and cavalierly by leftists wanting to smear those who disagree with them that it has cowered many on the right, including rightist libertarians.

Just as the Moral Majority hijacked the term “values” and “morals” from the libertarian canon years ago (we should properly make up our individual minds based on reason and normative ethics) so now, too, the left can deem any conservative or libertarian a racist, bigot, unenlightened White Male due to the latter’s philosophy.

Because of this and other factors, we now have Gary and Bill strongly pushing gay rights, Black Lives Matters, drug legalization, etc. more vocally than issues such as the logic of the market, sound money and true freedom that comes from individual rights which, as the first LP presidential candidate, the brilliant philosopher John Hospers, knew and put at the center of his campaign.

Moreover, these individual rights that Hospers championed would promote all of the disparate and various rights that Johnson and Weld have now adopted as their pet causes. Are not gays, blacks, transgender people, Muslims, et al, individuals too?

Hey–it’s their campaign, though. And I really don’t disagree with their views on the aforementioned subjects.

Personal freedom IS part of the libertarian tradition. It’s just that I’m surprised by their constant insistence on promoting the specific instances listed above. Often it seems like Johnson and Weld are trying to out-green the Greens or just trend high on the kids’ tweet feed or whatever the hot thing is today at the moment.

This ain’t your father’s Libertarian Party though–or the one I so strongly supported in 1988 when Ron Paul was candidate. Paul told it like it was and took no prisoners. We’ll soon see which method works best with voters. Then again, we’re living in much different times. “We are open minded,” Johnson and Weld seem to beg people to know. “You can still be in favor of small government and not be bigots!” appears to be their campaign theme.

Yes, you can. If you’re rational and logical. I and others learned that long ago from Ayn Rand. But she’s apparently passe now although still influential enough to constantly be unfairly smeared–by scared leftists who have never read her–as a needy Social Security recipient among other ad hominen strawmen. But let’s move on.

You can’t help but like both Johnson and Weld. They are down to earth, open to differences of opinion, willing to listen and seem sincere. Plus, compared to Trump and Clinton, Johnson comes across as Thomas Jefferson and Weld as John Adams. Many, if not most, of their ideas are solid and would steer this country in a better direction if adopted or even considered.

Sorry to offend my Democrat and Republican friends but, as regards Trump, you’ve got an unprincipled bully and negative cynosure who will almost certainly lead the U.S. into trade wars and possible actual new wars due to his hair trigger anger. This will necessarily lead us into further damaging our already-tarnished reputation in the world and perpetuate our country’s obsession with nation building–and, in the process, destroy the lives of many young military men and women as these rudderless adventures have done over the past 15 years.

Trump has also stated he will violate our first and fourth amendments, censor The Washington Post, break up Amazon and build a wall around the world’s greatest tunnel builders. A free market Republican he ain’t.

With Hillary, meanwhile, we have a conniving and pure power-lusting politician who has turned a lifetime of “public service” into millions of dollars for her pocketbook and who no doubt feels she “deserves this.” She will also abandon any principles she might have for the sake of pure political expediency and popularity. Her career is littered with poor decision making and negligence, to be gentle. And she will double down on economic policies (i.e., tax the hell out of producers) that are deadly to gainfully employed Americans and business owners.

Both candidates will also keep us in existing wars and seek out new ones to engage in–believe that.

Given those choices, Johnson looks pretty good. And I’m endorsing him right here and right now in my column for what it’s worth.

The godfather of libertarianism, Murray Rothbard, once supported the Black Panthers and had one main objective throughout his writings: smash the state. He also had quite a few other bizarre stances that, in my mind, undercut his brilliant economic theories. Johnson and Weld won’t be the first to throw out views antithetical to those of us brought to liberty and capitalism by Ayn Rand’s Objectivism and who have been wary of Libertarians. Rand famously called them “hippies of the right” and I think she was correct–ironically, that seems to be the very way in which Johnson and Weld wished to be viewed.

Is Johnson a Libertarian bien pensant? Not by a long shot. He is a pragmatist, not a purist. But in the sad state of our country, and its’ politics, he is our best hope in 2016. Let’s hear him out and give the LP ticket a chance. Ayn Rand, John Hospers, Tibor Machan and other great philosophers of liberty are rolling over in their graves–but, right now, Johnson and Weld are the only two carrying even a modicum of those thinkers’ ideas to the public.

Vote Libertarian in November is my advice. You have nothing to lose. Plus, the two parties need to get shaken up a bit.

In 2016, living in a country full of the philosophical progeny of hippies–perhaps that’s the best we can hope for: some semblance of freedom in a suffocating world of government regulation, free speech destruction, economic ignorance and pervasive surveillance. Let’s vote for Gary and let it all hang out, man, even if it means less government. Groovy.

So while it appear tepid, I am indeed supporting Gary Johnson for president. Will he win? Stranger things have happened but–no, he won’t. The system is too stacked (rigged) and Hillary has it in the bag.

But, by damn, he does need to be on that debate stage: the more confident, stronger, articulate Johnson–not the goofy, “Hey, everybody like me,” David Brenner lookalike Johnson. The nation needs to hear something besides Trump’s inarticulate inanities and Clinton’s eternal, shrieking promises. The libertarian ideas Johnson does espouse need to be heard by a nation that has gone into amnesia when it comes to liberty, rights and the free market.

Hold on to your hats–and other parts of your anatomy. It’s going to be a bumpy few months.

But I’m putting my trust in the hippies of the right this go around–for a smoother ride, dude.


Jack Criss

Jack Criss

Publisher and Executive Editor at BAMSouth.com
Jack Criss is the Publisher and Executive Editor of BAMSouth.com and owner of Criss Public Relations. He is a 30 year veteran of the business publishing industry as well as a former talk radio host, lecturer and author of "Ready, Aim, Right!" (Quail Ridge Press, 2004) and the forthcoming "The Great Greek Philosopher: Aristotle For Young People" (DagKat Press, 2017) as well as a work of teen fiction, "Book Island" and the non-fiction title "SuperfloUS: When Mediocrity Is Enshrined And Civility Fades." He was born, raised and currently lives in Ridgeland, MS and is the proud father of Katie and Dagny.
Jack Criss
Jack Criss
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