So, The Wall Street Journal editorial board think the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld Libertarian ticket is an “honorable alternative" for the anti-Trump and anti-Clinton voters, but the only legitimate third party option this election year (regarding ballot access) may cater more to supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders than those who are staunchly Never Trump. The former New Mexico governor said that he agrees with Sanders 73 percent of the time.
Johnson admitted this on C-Span’s May 31 broadcast of Washington Journal, where Claudia calling on the Democratic line from Arkansas brought up Johnson’s past governing New Mexico as a member of the Republican Party. Johnson noted that he was always a libertarian Republican, but now a Libertarian presidential candidate.
Claudia suggested that Johnson should join forces with Sanders, or at least adopt much of his platform, since she says a lot of people want to see the disheveled self-described Democratic socialist become the Democratic nominee (which isn’t going to happen). She added that Johnson could “take home the prize” if this alliance were formed. The whole call was pretty much a show of support for a third party alternative, but this time it came from someone of the left. Johnson responded by telling Claudia to go to ISideWith.com and take a quiz to see whom she best matches up with concerning the remaining 2016 candidates. Johnson appears to have taken it since he knows that he pretty much aligns with the Sanders camp on a whole host of issues:
“Of course, I side with myself 100 percent of the time, but interestingly of all the presidential candidates, I next side with Bernie Sanders at 73 percent. Now that’s the side of Bernie that has to do with pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, let’s stop with the military interventions, that there is crony capitalism, that government really isn’t fair when it comes to this level playing field. Legalize marijuana—look 73 percent of what Bernie says I agree with—we come to a “T” in the road when it comes to economics.”
Johnson then goes on to say that if we had a “fair system of economics,” we would do a lot better under a true free market system than socialism. But he also didn’t necessarily cast aspersions to the planned economy model either, saying, “Libertarians agree with socialism as long as it’s voluntary, but when it’s forced—that’s tyranny. So, that’s the libertarian perspective, but I think there’s so much in common that—just factually speaking…take a look—take a look Bernie Sanders supporters. Take a look at who you next side with.”
I’ll let you ponder that statement of socialism being okay as long as it’s voluntary.
There are some areas where Never Trump voters might agree, like marijuana legalization, marriage equality (maybe), and crony capitalism, but the foreign policy and life issues might be deal breakers. Some Never Trumpers are decidedly interventionist—and while Trump says he's going to "knock the hell outta ISIS," the lack of depth he has on the issue of foreign policy has some refusing to trust him with the nuclear codes. Johnson might be better schooled in this area of policy, but Republicans want a strong national defense. And they want a stronger presence in the world after eight years of incompetence by the Obama administration. With ISIS, Syria, terrorism, and the fallout from the Iran nuclear deal, we might have to prepare to become more interventionist after the serial failure of "smart power." There’s also the pro-choice angle.
The overwhelmingly majority of Republicans are pro-life. Abortion is often an issue that’s a deal breaker for conservatives, and there’s no way they’re casting ballots for someone they consider pro-abortion. Moreover, with Johnson agreeing with Sanders 73 percent of the time, that’s pretty much saying (for the Never Trumper) I’d rather vote for Bernie-lite than Trump. If you’re a committed conservative, voting for someone who is in agreement with Sanders to the point where they’re almost the same candidate is preposterous. Most Republican voters, by and large, have come to grips that the rallying cry is going to be "Make America Great Again" and are rallying behind Trump.
The Journal called the Johnson/Weld ticket an “honorable alternative,” but they just appear to be soft Sanders supporters who decided to mount a campaign under the libertarian banner. A ticket, by the way, that did not receive the warmest of receptions at the Libertarian Convention over the Memorial Day weekend. At the same time, for those Republicans who can’t stand Trump, and could never stomach voting for him, he’s a more successful alternative than David French—the National Review writer who could become that last dying act of the Never Trump camp in challenging Trump on the right.
Still, getting back to the Libertarian convention, where this "honorable alternative" was formed, one only has to read Slate’s report to find that most of their positions would probably be unpopular, if not totally insane. In short, writer Seth Stevenson wrote a rather hilarious article about a convention that featured candidates that opposed driver’s licenses to operate motor vehicles, and said that five-year-olds should be allowed to use heroin:
A young man in shorts and combat boots, spotting a break in the frenching, scrambled up to McAfee to shake the candidate’s hand and shout, “You’re awesome!” When I pulled this guy aside and asked why he favored McAfee, he began, “My main concern is interstate commerce legislation,” launching a runon sentence that somehow ended, after several minutes and some really surprising detours, with an avowal that “humans will be displaced by A.I. the same way we displaced the whales and the rhinoceroses, and so it’s important to remember that bigotry is better than slavery.”
Some delegates seemed to resent the brighter spotlight, wishing things could go back to how they’d been before—a desire that, when voiced by men wearing T-shirts adorned with stipple-dot portraits of Friedrich Hayek, sounded a lot like a high school kid whining that his favorite indie band had signed with a major label. Meanwhile, others I talked to saw this moment not as an opportunity for Libertarians to meet nonwoke America halfway, but rather as a chance to let their freak flag flap before an exponentially wider audience. And oh, did it flap: Among the leading candidates for the party’s nomination were men who, by nigh any external standard, qualify as total nutters.
[Libertarian presidential candidate] Darryl W. Perry, who accepts campaign donations only in the form of precious metals and cryptocurrency and who opted to have his nominating speech delivered by an “erotic services provider” who goes by the moniker “Starchild.” Perry’s most animated moment in the debate came when he slammed his fist against his lectern, forehead veins a-popping, as he insisted that 5-year-old children should have the legal right to inject heroin without adult supervision.
Candidate Marc Allan Feldman (oh, right, there was a fifth candidate—an anesthesiologist whom no one had heard of and who had apparently never even voted until after he was 50 years old, who somehow also made it into the debate) performed a bizarre Libertarian rap that had him spluttering sputum into his microphone while delineating the principles of freedom.
Throughout all this, [Gary] Johnson remained calm in the eye of the storm—even keeping his cool when he was roundly booed by much of the audience. The first boos came when Johnson admitted that, given the chance, he would have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Boooooooo! A second hail of raspberries came when Johnson, alone among the candidates, said he thought a driver’s license was a reasonable thing to require before allowing someone to drive. “I’d like to see some demonstration of basic competency,” Johnson acknowledged, rather meekly. Boooooooo! (Perry seized the moment, basically insisting that blind 4-year-olds should be legally permitted to drive without any sort of government imprimatur.)
Johnson would eventually win the nomination on the second ballot. Oh, and did I forget to mention the striptease that occurred when it came time to vote for a new party chair. As Leah wrote, a man came on stage to voice his support for Derrick Grayson, who was vying for the vice president slot on the libertarian ticket, but lost to former Massachusetts Governor William Weld. Two minutes were given to candidates for party chair, which prompted this bizarre act.
This is the party of the “honorable alternative”? Generally speaking, between Trump and this band of…peculiar people, I’d happily vote for Trump. He may say some things that aren’t politically correct, but he doesn’t belong to a cadre of folks that would run on a platform that would permit kids doing heroin without adult supervision. For now, I'm decidedly Never Hillary. As for whether vote for Trump,that's an ongoing debate. One this is for sure: I'm not voting for Gary Johnson.