Don’t Forget Gary Johnson!

December 20th, 2011 at 1:08 am | 26 Comments |

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While I was reading Conor Friedersdorf response to David Frum’s critique of Ron Paul, as well as Andrew Sullivan’s endorsement of Ron Paul, one question kept coming into my mind: “What about former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson?”

Friedersdorf makes the case for Ron Paul on the basis that he is different from all the other Republican candidates, but that is just not technically true. Gary Johnson is essentially Ron Paul but without the racist newsletters.

Has Johnson been treated unfairly in the current primary? Absolutely! I would agree with Friedersdorf that the debates would have benefited from giving him more exposure. While Johnson does not match my ideal profile of a candidate, I do think that his influence is more positive than negative, and that he is a less embarrassing standard bearer for the libertarian wing of the Republican Party than Ron Paul.

I have spoken with staff who migrated from the Ron Paul campaign to Gary Johnson’s camp. One thing I have been told is that they are frustrated that many libertarians in the Ron Paul camp equat being a libertarian with supporting the Paul clan. Many supporters of Ron Paul find that they can only support Ron Paul and Rand Paul, and that all the other candidates are not worthy of their attention. This past week, the FrumForum mailbox has been getting angry emails about how we’ve recently attacked Ron Paul. We’ve critiqued other libertarians before, but when you attack a person’s political savior, they take it a bit more personally.

When Kevin D. Williamson reported on the Ron Paul campaign in Iowa, he captured what this feeling was like:

[This] much they [Ron Paul fans] are certain of: The United States of America is an “empire,” the Federal Reserve is the capitol citadel of wickedness in the modern world, and Ron Paul — Doctor Paul — is “the one man in America who is willing to tell the truth,” “the one man who truly cannot be bought,” “the one man for the people,” and, in the Paul campaign’s own fevered imagination, “the one who will stop the spending, save the dollar, create jobs, bring peace — the one who will restore liberty. Ron Paul: The one who can beat Obama — and restore America now.”

Gary Johnson does not have followers like this and he shouldn’t. The entire Ron Paul campaign is a decidedly unlibertarian political movement. Here is a candidate who supposedly stands for absolute freedom, yet his followers believe that if they want to save America from the bankers who run the Federal Reserve that they have to support him and his family. The 2008 Obama campaign shows that liberals are equally capable of succumbing to the same misplaced delusions but at least when Obama fails to oversee an economic recovery his support among liberals languish. In contrast, it seems there is nothing that can reduce the enthusiasm of the Ron Paul fans.

One project that libertarians may want to consider is how to give the libertarians in the Republican party prominent voices that are not called Ron Paul. These voices would not have to make evasions on issues such as whether the Confederacy was a bad idea. Then the debate over whether we need a night-watchmen state can be done without Paul’s considerable baggage.

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26 Comments so far ↓

  • Jaayy

    Anyone David Frum endorses, I oppose. Sorry, Gary.

    I used to think you were okay, Gary; then you had to go and hang around with a quasi-conservative like Frum.

  • Clayman

    Nice guys finish last, even if they’ve climbed Mount Everest and make the most sense.

  • nhthinker


    Ron Paul has been on the national stage representing Libertarian views for well over 30 years on very serious issues: he has written serious books The first national introduction to Gary Johnson focused on his legalize marijuana plank of his platform- not his anti-World Police, anti-Fed planks nor on his prolific writings on Libertarian principles.

    Gary Johnson: ‘Pot Smokers May Be The Largest Untapped Voting Bloc’

    Since you claim he is the same as Ron Paul, you can point to the Johnson prolific writings, right?

    Google gary johnson new mexico books and what do you get from Amazon?

    First national impressions for Johnson and Huntsman are their own makings. Neither are going anywhere.

    • shanon

      I have respect for Ron Paul but I think the President should not be risk as of dieing because of his age, that is all. Gary Johnson recently pedelled his bicycle 500 miles and was a 2 term Governor of New Mexico, he can do the job. I like Johnson because of his support for ending marijuana prohibition and one other thing, there is nothing immoral about a womans body or being featured in Playboy. America is not one sided.

      • nhthinker

        I agree with your sentiments on Paul. But a president is not going to be elected with legalizing drugs (or being athletic) as the first thing that people know about him.
        Because Johnson had this image issue, I honestly never took him as a serious contender and did not waste much time trying to understand how he differentiated from Paul. There was clearly not enough room for two libertarian candidates in the race.- the established parties did not want ANY in the race.

    • WaStateUrbanGOPer

      So what, precisely, do you object to in Gary Johnson’s record? Surely not the eight years he spent competently governing an American state? His opposition to drug prohibition? The fact that he can rock a time-trial bike and a set of cross country skis?

      And why does the fact that Ron Paul has written a book qualify him over Gary Johnson? Do you think Barack Obama’s books make him especially qualified to be President?

      Just last week you insisted to me that you were not a culture warrior, and then you post this Playboy cover with the obvious intent to imply that Gary Johnson is somehow morally unfit to hold office. Just go on and admit it: you’re a religious right freak dressed up in libertarian costume– you know, pretty much like every other tea bagger.

      • nhthinker

        This has nothing to do with policy, but here are a couple things:
        1) Ron Paul did not right one book: he wrote several. And they were not poetic navel gazing- they were about political and financial policy issues. Paul is a libertarian ICON. Johnson is a legalize pot ICON.
        2) There is nothing wrong with Playboy- (my household has Maxims in the reading rooms) – but it does show a lack of concern or at least a lack of understanding on how typical conservative and moderate voters react to the set of books and periodicals written about a candidate.

        Both Johnson and Huntsman did not have a clue about controlling their image to appeal to the widest span of voters.

        If Johnson had planned properly, then he would have tried to write a book or books (or gotten them ghost written for him) to balance or overwhelm the set of articles that appear in ganja friendly skin mags.

        As to Huntsman, do you actually remember what a piss poor job he did at his announcement speech and his first commercials and the attacks his campaign was willing to mete out before he had any standing?

        Have you ever tried to think like a campaign manager? Seemingly not. These guys did not do the proper preparation to sell to the American voters.

        Your accusations of what I am are delusional.

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          So Ron Paul has written “several” books rather than one, so what? David Irving and Noam Chomsky have each written several books on political and policy topics. Would you seriously care to have either on of them as head of state?

          Even though you insist you are not a culture warrior or family values type, no one who regularly participates in the forum could mistake you for anything but one of these rubes, and as such I’m sure you could go on at length about the importance of a child having a father in the home while growing up. So would you then seriously mock Barack Obama’s memoir about the pain of growing up without a significant relationship with his father as “poetic navel gazing”?

          And how in all seriousness can you celebrate Ron Paul as a “libertarian icon,” and then in the next breath mock Gary Johnson for wanting to legalize marijuana?

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          And let it be explicitly pointed out, so no one can mistake your stupidity on this point: you favor, for election as president of the United States, a career legislator with absolutely no executive experience over a successful two term governor. Both men have essentially the same political ideas, and yet you would rather have the former as president.

        • nhthinker

          Actually I said I was a Romney supporter and I hoped that Ron Paul would be able to extract enough delegates in the nomination process to move the platform in a more libertarian direction.

          Splitting libertarian votes away from Ron Paul would lessen the chance of getting any libertarian concessions into the GOP platform.

          Or is that to complicated for you?

        • nhthinker

          Obviously, Ron Paul is for family values- he just does not want the Federal government forcing it down peoples’ throats.

          Your lack of understanding of libertarian thought is extreme.

          Can you explain how in your mind that a book about the pain of growing up qualifies one for the Presidency? Or voting “present” more than any other legislator in the history of Illinois makes one qualified?

          As to whether Johnson might make a better president the Paul: Johnson actually might- however, if Johnson, like Huntsman, does not have the awareness of what type of image is necessary to be competitive for the support of a plurality of Republicans and then a plurality general election voters: that lack of awareness becomes a disqualifier.

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          I never wrote that “Dreams from My Father” qualified Barack Obama for the presidency. It is a highly readable and poignant book, though, and I really don’t think people who are ostensibly for “family values” ought to sneer at its tale: a tale of a son struggling to make sense of his budding manhood in the shadow of his father’s long absence, and how complicated this struggle becomes when his father unexpectedly dies. I suspect that if Newt Gingrich, whose father was similarly absent from his life, had written such a book, you and other teavangelicals would have lavishly praised it.

          Once again, it is you, not I, who seemingly cannot grasp the essentials of libertarianism. You simply cannot laud one politician for being a libertarian par excellence and then immediately criticize another for wanting to legalize marijuana. It almost beggars belief that I would have to explain this to anybody, but in the context of our current political culture and its rancid ignorance it makes total sense.

        • nhthinker

          I never said Johnson’s policy on ganja was a wrong position. You really have a deep seated comprehension problem. I actual said none of my issues with Johnson was about policy positions. You, in your elitist manner, continue to fail to listen to reason and look like an idiot doing it.

          You jumped to the conclusion that since I put the Playboy picture up about ganja that I think the federal government should have a negative position on playboy and ganja. Your cloddish thought processes make you think that I agree with Bachmann or Santorum (or even Romney) on federal law of social behavior.

          You have nothing to backup your accusations. I’ve been posting as NHThinker for several years here and over at WP. You cannot find a single post to back up your accusations. Your attacks are completely ad hominem and weak and prove you are timid and lightweight.

          As to books, I started with the fact that Ron Paul wrote several books about political and financial thought. These are perceived as political capital for a Republican presidential candidate and one key differentiator between Paul and Johnson. Warm and fuzzy walk through life books are much more likely to be good political capital to Democratic presidential candidates.

  • nitrat

    The Republicans made a big mistake by not allowing Gary Johnson and Buddy Romer to participate in their endless debates while they allow in flakes like Herman Cain.

    Johnson and Romer were governors who actually bring some important issues to the fore, not just the pandering of the rest of the sorry bunch. Their inclusion would have elevated the process.

    • Baron Siegfried

      Perhaps, but please remember that in the Kingdom of the Blind, the one eyed man gets his eye poked out . . .

      • shanon

        Not in the martial world I know, blind people probaly could not find this one eye to poke and it really reads “The one-eyed man is King.”

  • Graychin

    Buddy Roemer deserves a look too. And he makes a lot more sense than another libertarian ideologue like Gary Johnson.

  • lilmanny

    In a high school year book, this headline would read “Don’t forget the Chess Club!”

    This guy is awesome, hence his dismissal from the right wing.

    • shanon

      Yeah huh, the republicans parade before us a freak show of candidates and exclude Gary, how un-American is that.

      • nhthinker

        Democrats have such short memories….
        “On Tuesday, January 15, 2008, Kucinich was “disinvited” from a Democratic presidential debate on MSNBC.”

        • Graychin

          Not allowing Kucinich to debate was wrong too. I expect better than that from Democrats.

  • rbottoms

    Don’t Forget Gary Johnson!


  • paulw

    Reasons why Gary Johnson is ignored:
    1) He’s from a relatively obscure state – New Mexico – that has rarely affected the national political stage;
    2) He’s pro-marijuana legalization, which in the GOP makes him an idol of the libertarians but hated by the 80 percent rest of the pro-police-state party;
    3) As governor, he actually walked the walk of budget-cutting in such a way that the state actually prospered. Actual competence in a politician is anathema to a political party that wants government to fail!

    • shanon

      In my opinion this country is screwed up because of all the whoughty toughty east coasters who pat themselves on the back, declaring to the rest of us what a great job they are doing controlling America’s destiny, personally I see the nation fastly falling into fascism, led by the republican party and the judiciary. I was raised with the pledge of allegiance every day and understand Freedom is something you fight for. The reason the re-pubs suppress Gary is they fear him, the thing is he’s all ready The Next Libertarian Candidate for Presidency of the United States, one existing party needs to die, democrats or republicans I could care less. Life and Liberty! Go Gary Go!

  • medinnus

    Well, Johnson announced he’ll be running for the Libertarian party nomination (and probably, should that not work, as an independent), so from a GOP perspective he’s just a “Ralph Nader” who will draw GOP support from the main GOP nominee.

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