Libertarians Find Republican Support

October 20, 2011 Op-Eds, Opinion

Gary Johnson’s name would not ring a bell for most Rollins students, even among its Republicans. Former governor of New Mexico, Johnson is currently a 2012 Republican presidential candidate. He is most likely not getting much exposure because he has been excluded from Republican debates on various news networks, including Fox News. However, once Johnson managed to reach 2 percent in recent polls Fox News decided to include him in the Republican debate on Sept. 23 in Orlando, despite protests from the Florida Republican Party.

The debate focused on the more mainstream Republican candidates like Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, who gave rehearsed answers and attempted to appeal to the audience on a superficial level. However, Johnson gave answers that outlined his libertarian views and backed them up by relating his experience as governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. “I’m promising to submit a balanced budget to congress in 2013 … I promise legislation where expenditures exceed revenue,” announced Johnson. “I vetoed more bills than any governor in the history of the United States, and all governors in the country combined.” According to a 1995 State Legislatures article on HighBeam.com entitled, “No, no, two hundred times no. (New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson’s extensive use of his veto power),” he set national veto records by vetoing 200 out of 424 bills (which earned him the nickname Governor Veto) and indeed, this was more than today’s 49 governors’ vetoes put together. Johnson stated that he intends to replace the federal income tax with the FairTax.

Johnson declared his opposition to federal interference in schools. He promises to abolish the Federal Department of Education and states, “[It] gives each state 11 cents out of every dollar that every state spends, but it comes with 16 cents worth of strings attached. What America does not understand is that it’s a negative to take federal money.” Johnson stressed his plan for a 43 percent reduction in federal spending and is in favor of the notion that trade promotes friendship. Indeed, his views on free-market capitalism are more pronounced than any candidates’, even the libertarian-esque Ron Paul, who Johnson seems to match best (when posed with a hypothetical question, Johnson opined that Paul would be his best choice for a running mate).

His widely publicized line was, “My next door neighbor’s dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.” Johnson stated that if doing away with corporate income tax “doesn’t create tens of millions of jobs in this country, I don’t know what does.”

His appeal to capitalists and conservatives of Rollins is more obvious as he is a supporter of businesses being free to compete and unhampered by governmental restrictions. He is vocal about his oppositions to subsidies and tariffs. He advocates market-based advancement and lowering the price of health care and is opposed to the government’s involvement in it. However, Johnson is considered both a black horse and a black sheep among mainstream conservatives for his social views. Could this perhaps appeal to social liberals?

Johnson’s social libertarianism is bolstered by his view that America is about private individual liberty and rights, a notion not fully shared by most leftists or those on the right. Although he does not support governmental funding of stem-cell research, he is for private laboratories conducting it, which differs from both the typical left and right. Johnson advocates the decriminalization of marijuana. In regard to “hard” drugs, he does not advocate legalization outright but believes it should be treated as a medical, not criminal, problem. It is also a surprise that liberals do not flock to Johnson due to his general anti-war position.

Overall, Johnson advocates limited government, whose purpose is to protect the rights of individuals, not to hinder or interfere. He could appeal to those who have rooted for Ron Paul or Libertarian candidates, and also those who are otherwise disappointed in the Obama administration. Johnson seems to be gaining a reputation for being “the sane Republican candidate.” He could be a fresh breath of air in today’s political scene and is definitely someone worth paying attention to.

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