May 26, 2011
The Republican Party isn’t likely to nominate a presidential
candidate who seeks a withdrawal from Iraq
opposes the “War on Drugs,” and supports temporary work visas for illegal immigrants.
Next year, GOPers
will almost certainly pick Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, or Tim
Pawlenty -- all of whom hew to positions espoused by the party’s base.
Neoconservatives, culture warriors, and nativists may not comprise a solid majority
of the American citizenry, but they reign in Republican Land.
So what are voters who favor noninterventionism, personal
freedom, and capitalism to do? Volunteer for and donate to Gary Johnson.
The former governor of New
Mexico has a résumé that refreshingly lacks
establishment-pol bullet points. He was born in North
Dakota and grew up in the Land of Enchantment.
He didn’t attend Harvard/Yale/Princeton, and is neither a lawyer nor an
investment banker. He inhaled, and admits it. He didn’t inherit wealth, but
built his own business.
While Johnson is said to be the fittest politician in America
-- he competes in triathlons, climbs mountains, and survived the Bataan Memorial Death March, “a 25 mile
desert run in combat boots wearing a 35 pound backpack” -- he’s not preachy
about it. When Playboy asked about
his “extreme regimen” in 2001, he replied, “I believe you should try to find
out what it is that makes your life tick really well and then get as much of it
as you can … . I don’t push anyone else to do it, but it makes my life work.” A
decade later, nothing has changed. He
recently told The Atlantic: “I
really think that life is about being in a state of Zen. If I might describe Zen
for you, it’s being in the moment. The thing that gets someone there might be
music, art, golf, reading, writing. It might be a job that you have. For me, I’ve
found it in athletics. And I’ve also found it in politics.”
With one enormous blind spot, Johnson’s agenda is reliably
the U.S. Department of Education. Eliminate
the federal tax on corporate income. Substance abuse
“is a health problem that should be dealt with by health experts, not a problem
that should be clogging up our courts, jails, and prisons with addicts.”
It won’t be received well by the GOP’s war whoopers, but in
addition to bringing the troops home from Iraq
and Afghanistan, Johnson believes it
is time to “reevaluate” America’s military presence in Europe. The
Department of Defense, in his view, is one of the “big four” categories of
federal spending (the other three are Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) that
needs to be cut.
And the billions of dollars America
annually sends to a certain tiny nation on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean? That’s where the triathlete stumbles. Johnson
“a strong, democratic nation … whose interests are almost entirely aligned with
Nuts. Well, no candidate’s perfect. (President Johnson couldn’t
be worse on Israel
than President Romney.) Even Ron Paul has
a lousy stance on earmarks, and is co-sponsoring
an energy bill that is corporatist to its core.
Speaking of “Dr. No,” his decision to again run for the Republican
presidential nod is a disappointment. As chairman of the Domestic
Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee of the House’s Financial
Services Committee, the Texas
congressman should focus his efforts on the Federal Reserve.
A strong showing by Gary Johnson in 2012 would be proof that
Paul’s 2008 campaign was no aberration. If libertarianism is ever to enjoy
success -- or at least, meaningful influence -- in electoral politics, its banner
can’t be carried by one man. Besides, Paul will be 76 in August. At 58, New Mexico’s ex-chief
executive is sharper, and more appealing to a key constituency: Baby Boomers.
It’s fun to envision a Johnson-Obama contest. A likable, self-made
businessman who graduated from a state university, versus an arrogant, affirmative-action,
law-degreed, career-pol Ivy Leaguer with infinitesimal experience in the
private sector. A Zen dude who countenances self-direction and “being in the
moment” versus a Nanny Stater who wants to control nearly everything you do. An
advocate of education freedom versus a teacher-union tool. A genuine skeptic of
the military-industrial complex versus a president who pretends to stand up to
the “defense” lobby.
It’s the longest of longshots. But liberty-loving activists and
voters should work to make such a race happen. With the Libertarian Party
irrelevant and the Democratic Party unthinkable, we’re stuck with the GOP.
Let’s make as much trouble as we can.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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