You know, for the bad reputation Republicans have politically they seem to get around.
As expected, the most major of the various “third parties” nominated onetime New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson to repeat as their Presidential standard-bearer and former Massachusetts Governor William Weld as his running mate. The biggest surprise seemed to be that both Johnson and Weld won on the second ballot, both coming up just a few votes short of a majority on the first.
It sets up an interesting situation for the party, for there are a number of purists who may be a #NeverJohnson faction of the party, although the total number of Libertarians in the country is but a small percentage of the electorate. But for those who are not thrilled with the choice of Trump vs. Clinton, Johnson has some appeal in the following ways:
- Budget. Johnson pledges to “submit to Congress a truly balanced budget. No gimmicks, no imaginary cuts in the distant future. Real reductions to bring spending into line with revenues, without tax increases. No line in the budget will be immune from scrutiny and reduction.” After the collective heart attack on K Street, we will certainly watch Congress begin to play the game with him and bring on a budgetary crisis.
- Taxes. He also “advocates the elimination of tax subsidies, the double taxation embodied in business income taxes, and ultimately, the replacement of all income and payroll taxes with a single consumption tax that will allow every American and every business to determine their tax burden by making their own spending decisions. Taxes on purchases for basic necessities would be ‘prebated’, with all other purchases taxed equally regardless of income, status or purpose.” I’m cool with this, as I’ve advocated the FairTax for years. It would be something for the second term, though, and you can bet the lobbyists will fight that to the last man as well.
- Term Limits. “Johnson is a strong advocate of term limits. Run for office, spend a few years doing the job at hand, and then return to private life. That’s what Gary Johnson did as Governor, and that’s what Senators and Representatives should do.” The libertarian purists wouldn’t be down for this since it arbitrarily limits choice, and I used to feel the same way. But since the Constitution allows for Presidential term limits (thanks to Republicans jealous of FDR) it should also allow for Congressional ones, too.
- Role of Government. This is where Johnson takes a page from Trump’s promises to clean up Washington, but means it. “Government regulation should only exist to protect citizens from bad actors and the harm they might do to health, safety and property. Regulation should not be used to manipulate behavior, manage private lives and businesses, and to place unnecessary burdens on those who make our economy work.”
- Foreign Policy. Johnson is not a neocon to be sure. “The U.S. must get serious about cutting off the millions of dollars that are flowing into the extremists’ coffers every day. Relationships with strategic allies must be repaired and reinforced. And the simplistic options of ‘more boots on the ground’ and dropping more bombs must be replaced with strategies that will isolate and ultimately neuter those who would, if able, destroy the very liberties on which this nation is founded.” It’s a nicer way of calling the last few military actions errant than Trump did.
- Education. “Johnson believes there is no role for the Federal Government in education. He would eliminate the federal Department of Education, and return control to the state and local levels. He opposes Common Core and any other attempts to impose national standards and requirements on local schools, believing the key to restoring education excellence in the U.S. lies in the innovation, freedom and flexibility that federal interference inherently discourage.
Certainly there is a lot of debate whether the Johnson/Weld ticket would be good on social issues, as they dance around the idea of Judeo-Christian values. But there is the hope that Johnson will be added to the Presidential debates in order to bring these differences out to the voting public.
By virtue of being the Libertarian Party standard-bearer, Johnson is automatically included on the Maryland ballot.