Sanders to Johnson: A Move That Makes Little Sense
Are you a Bernie Sanders supporter who is disappointed with the outcome of the primary season? Do you find it difficult to take Bernie’s personal message last night at the Democratic National Convention to vote for Hillary Clinton in the election? What about the third-party candidates like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein? This is not an infomercial but these are all valid questions that I’ve seen circling around social media over the past few days, and I wanted to take a moment to address them.
First of all, I’m an avid Clinton supporter and have been since 2008 when she first ran for president. But hold on — this article isn’t about why I chose to support Clinton over Sanders. The truth is that I also liked Sanders and ultimately decided that whoever receives the Democratic Party nomination will have my vote come November. Putting the differences between Sanders and Clinton aside (although there are few), I recognize that having a Democrat in the White House is so tremendously important when the Republicans have nominated Donald Trump, a man who has spoken some of the nastiest rhetoric of any person running for president. I agree with the message that Sanders has been sending out; that we must unite and vote for Clinton in order to take down Trump. But perhaps you’re still weary of Clinton and considering voting for Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico and current Libertarian Party nominee.
First of all, for those that don’t know what libertarianism is, it’s essentially minimizing and limiting government powers. Sounds pretty great, right? Well, not exactly. There are a whole slew of political theorist reasons why libertarianism can’t and won’t work. Even more importantly, libertarianism is literally the opposite of socialism.
If you’re anything like my liberal Bernie-supporting friends, you probably love him for just that: his liberal ideals. I’m here to tell you that while Gary Johnson shares just a small number of these ideals with Sanders, he disagrees with him on far more than you might realize. Here are some issues that they share stances on: being against the death penalty, believing in a woman’s right to choose an abortion, and pro-same-sex marriage. These are some of the key social issues of this election and they align — woohoo! But there are other, just as important issues that they do not agree on.
Sanders has been a staunch critic of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) since its inception while Johnson is an advocate of it. One of Sanders’ main selling points of his campaign was his call for tuition-free colleges and universities but Johnson does not share this belief. Citizens United? Yuck, no thanks. Bernie has made it very clear his hostility towards the Supreme Court decision that allows corporations the right to “free speech” (hello Super PACs) while Johnson is a proponent of the decision. Johnson is a gun enthusiast and is against any type of gun control as well as being against banning people on the no-fly list or terror watch list from buying a gun. Sanders has been vocal about supporting extended gun control as well as not allowing people on the no-fly list or terror watch list to purchase a firearm.
Sanders, a loud advocate for universal healthcare does not share the same view as Johnson who is against any type of universal healthcare. Johnson does not believe in paid family or medical leave (yes, this includes maternity leave) while Sanders does. Perhaps one of the most important messages of the Sanders campaign has been to raise the minimum wage. Johnson is also against that. Outwardly against the Keystone XL Pipeline, Sanders and Johnson once again differ in their views. Furthermore on the environmental issues, Johnson is against the use of renewable energy while Sanders is for it. There are far more issues where Sanders and Johnson do not agree but I have decided to highlight the important ones.
Even more surprising is that aside from the death penalty (Clinton is pro-capital punishment), Sanders and Clinton share the same views on all of the issues I’ve listed. I get it, Clinton’s approval ratings are at a 24-year low and you’re just not sure you can trust her. Gary Johnson, who you’ve been told is so similar to Sanders via social media, seems like the next best choice! However, if any of the aforementioned issues are of importance to you, consider voting for someone who shares more of the same views with Sanders than Gary Johnson.
I get it, someone telling you not to vote for a third-party candidate because you are throwing away your vote is annoying and that’s not what I’m trying to convince you to do. One of the most striking and characteristic things of Sanders’ campaign is his liberal ideals. Free college/university, raising the minimum wage, putting an end to Citizens United, gun control, environmental protection, paid maternity leave, anti-TPP: these are all stances that Johnson is against and were arguably the most central stances of the Sanders campaign.
I ask you to evaluate your own stances on these issues. Can you overlook all of these issues and more to vote for Johnson as a former Sanders supporter? I know that I can’t, which is why I’ll be voting for the candidate that shares 99% of Bernie’s stances: Hillary Clinton.