I was recently involved in an email conversation with a few of my friends. We’re mostly Gary Johnson supporters this year—even the die hard Republicans of the group. One friend was questioning how Johnson holds up when speaking and answering questions. My friend, who dislikes Trump, said that he thought Trump would at least be a better leader and that the president doesn’t have time for Johnson's slow responses.
First, I think Johnson would be a great leader because he’s already been a great leader. He was a beloved two-term governor of New Mexico—as a Republican in a 2:1 Democratic state. His running mate, Bill Weld, is solid as fuck and he served two terms as a Republican governor in a 4:1 Democratic state. Out of the two, I would admit that Weld is probably the better public speaker, but they plan to run the office as a team so all of their strengths are on the table.
I actually really like that Johnson takes a minute to answer a question and sometimes stumbles through it—it shows he’s actually considering his answer rather then parroting back some scripted response. And rather than blurt out something he’ll regret, he admits he doesn’t know the answer and vows to figure it out. And in interviews a day or two later he actually comes back with it figured out. When he’s made an error, he’s owned up to it. Just like any other candidate, he’s not perfect. But Johnson is the only one who’s man enough to admit it.
Contrast that with a politician like Trump or Clinton who will make rash decisions, later regret them—or even worse, not regret them—and never admit they were wrong while we are forced to live with the consequences of their choices. Rash bipartisan decisions got us such gems as the Patriot Act and the NSA wiretapping all of us — with permission from a rubber stamp secret FISA court. With legislation, Johnson’s default is no. He’s vetoed the most bills of any other governor in history (percentage-wise). And as nearly all laws remove freedom or increase needless spending, that’s a huge win.
Because Johnson doesn’t have the guarantee of party-line voters voting for him, he doesn’t have the luxury of being quick with his words. Any small thing he says or does could kill any hope his campaign has.
Trump, however, can say “grab ’em by the pussies” and be a hero. In fact he can and does say whatever he wants because he’s the anti-Clinton. Clinton can put American lives in danger and knowingly operate a private email server where she receives top secret emails while playing dumb about not understanding what she did. And even though she’s either lying or too incompetent to be qualified for the office no one cares because she’s the anti-Trump. Hell, that’s what it should say on the ballot. Because each of them is the devil, and the devil must be kept at bay.
Most of each major party’s following is a guaranteed core group of die hards. Opposing voters may hate each other, but both know they’re not going to change the other’s mind. No one tells them they’re wasting their vote because they conform to the two-party system.
But for a Libertarian supporter, it’s very different. People think that they can and should change our opinions because our vote isn’t a “real” vote. If we don’t come to reason, their devil will win and the world will end. Unlike those supporting major party candidates, we couldn’t possibly have valid reasons why we wouldn’t want to vote for a megalomaniac or a liar, we’re simply being difficult, childish, or not living in the real world.
Of course we should vote for the candidate we have .1% in common with. This election is too important to not vote for one of the two major parties this time, unlike all of those non-important elections we’ve had in the past. I know, I know, you’re supposed to vote for the candidate you believe in, but if you do that this time Trump will win. Or is it Clinton? I forget. I’ve heard it so many times from both sides. I’ve also heard it from numerous articles, popular people like Casey Neistat — who flat out told his 5+ million YouTube subscribers to vote for Clinton — and other friends and acquaintances who ignore any point we make and matter-of-factly point out that we’re wasting our vote when we voice our opinion. Like Johnson in the debates, we too are shut out.
Having your opinion marginalized is maddening — especially when you’re not voting against someone you hate but for someone you believe in. A lot of these major party supporters have no idea what that’s even like. They likely haven’t voted for someone they believe in in a decade at least if ever.
Johnson isn’t an idiot. He knows that’s what happens to those of us who don’t want to settle for the person we despise the least. And he knows how hard he has to work to overcome this stupid “wasted vote” rhetoric. So with every answer he gives, he must not give those douchebags ammo because independents can easily be caught up in the lesser-of-evils voting scheme if they don’t stand strong behind their convictions and vote their conscience. It’s easy to get caught up in the game. So Johnson doesn’t have the luxury of saying whatever he wants.
Often people claim that what really makes Libertarians crazy is their ideas. But when polled about the actual issues, a majority of Americans are actually closer to Libertarians than either of the two major parties. Most people are somewhat fiscally conservative and socially accepting. But when presented with the option of a candidate that fits those traits, they brush off that choice as crazy because that is how the media has always portrayed Libertarian candidates.
Democrats and Republicans have their preferred media, like CNN or FOX. And they rarely give interviews to the unfriendly networks because they get enough airtime without having to do that. So they rarely face difficult questions. But Libertarians like Johnson have to take every invitation offered to them since they are denied access to the debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates has set up a barrier to entry and actively works to stifle voices. By the time that “independent” organization announces which polls it requires a 15% share on, the debates are almost underway. Third parties can’t even figure out where to campaign in time.
The Commission on Presidential Debates is an independent nonprofit corporation established in 1987 under the joint sponsorship of both the Democratic and Republican political parties in the United States.
Knowing that Johnson must show up, these media outlets set up this Machiavellian situation where they can ask hardball questions they’d never ask their candidate because Johnson can’t decline. They know he might siphon votes from their golden boy, so they do their best to paint him as crazy and his ideas as dangerous.
Just look at the ridiculous questions they brought up in the first Libertarian town hall. No one has brought in a mother of a kid that died of a heroin overdose to ask Trump or Clinton what they’d do about it—even though it is policies like those they support that likely led her kid to die.
Of course he’s going to have a difficult time telling a woman that lost her son to heroin that it was prohibition that led to that! He’s going to sound crazy because people still think that prohibition works. Even though this woman is proving the point. But he can’t say that. The answer should be an easy, “I’m sorry that happened, but we would actually be better off if drugs were legal because crime and overdosing statistically go down in every place that has decriminalized drugs.”
How can he tell her that to her face without sounding like an uncaring asshole? That kind of answer seems callous to a voting public that doesn’t research shit. I’m sure there are plenty of people who just read that response and think I’m crazy, even though the results of drug decriminalization have been documented over and over again in other countries and in the US. They think that one leads to the other. Freer drug laws, more irresponsible use. Just like when the country went to shit after prohibition ended. To this day I can’t walk outside my house without stepping over the passed out bodies of my neighbors. It’s tragic. No, the truth is people don’t want facts. They just want to affirm their beliefs, not challenge them.
And if you have an audience not willing to learn about those facts, how can you answer any questions with a Libertarian answer? How can you explain that raising minimum wage actually hurts the people it’s trying to help and causes inflation, when there are people going around with little to no education in economics refuting that claim with, “nuh uh!” Those people still think tons of people are working minimum-wage jobs rather than the 2% of the workforce it actually is.
And of course those media outlets won’t give him the time to really explain it or show any of the relevant statistics themselves. Instead, they’ll just use his words as a soundbite in some talking head show to make him sound insane because a good amount of Libertarian principles are counter-intuitive to people that don’t take the time to educate themselves. And the media does it while acting like they’re trying to understand what Libertarianism is—as if they’re just clueless and want to give a fair shot at helping the American people understand. But they don’t give a fuck. They know the game. They know what Libertarianism is, and how they can spin it so Johnson sounds crazy and his ideas sound dangerous.
The media paints Libertarians as Other, even though they combine the best parts from each party and can find some common ground with both sides. That’s why those people who say they would vote Republican if only the party cared about legalization or the LGBT community, end up voting Democrat. It’s also why the people who say they’d vote Democrat if only the party had a good economic policy or didn’t want to take away gun rights, end up voting Republican. Those people are describing the Libertarian party. But they don’t have a clue because all they’ve heard is that Libertarians are crazy and that was the end of it. And the media, and every part of the lesser-of-two-evils majority, scare independents into voting for something they don’t believe in because independents are just toeing the line between voting for what they actually believe in and voting against what they abhor.
And the worst part of that is that no one knows what the president actually does. I’m convinced that most of what people think the president does is write bills and get them passed. Wrong. They sign bills, but the president’s biggest power is veto. And in that capacity especially, Gary Johnson is the best candidate. So many terrible bills would get shot down. He would keep us from losing freedoms, and wasteful spending. On the other hand, Clinton and Trump would be a rubber stamp for their sides — well maybe less with Trump, who the fuck knows what that guy is going to do. And that business-as-usual path gives us laws on the extremes — socialism or fascism.
I’ll freely admit that in comparison, Johnson seems less strong than those two. But how could he be? He has to say the right things. Trump and Clinton just have to not be their opponent. And those two will never have to answer a question in a debate, because without Johnson in the debates no one is answering questions. No matter how slow he answers a question or stumbles on an answer, no one answers more slowly than Trump or Clinton, because they don’t answer questions, they just tell you how great they are with no proof behind it. And it drives us crazy.