Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't do it Gary

Right now there is intense speculation (in libertarian circles) about Republican Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson and a possible move from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party to seek the presidential nomination.

That would be a bad idea.

Yes, Governor Johnson has reason to feel slighted. The press is giving much more coverage to all the other two-term governor candidates than to Governor Johnson, and he is being snubbed from the debates in spite of having polling numbers similar to other two-term governor candidates. The second debate that he was invited to was to see if the press could get him to attack Representative Ron Paul on who is more libertarian, and when Governor Johnson refused to play that game the press lost all interest.

Governor Johnson entered the race hoping to be the "Ron Paul of 2012" but when Representative Paul entered the race the two had to compete for the same initial slice of support, donations, and votes. While followers of one would generally be content with the other, a choice had to be made factoring in both the credentials of the candidates and the likelihood of making it through the primaries. The public settled on Representative Paul as the one most likely to have an impact in the 2012 race.

But that is not a reason to quit. Representative Paul has indicated that if he does not receive the nomination in 2012 he will retire from politics. If Governor Johnson sticks through with the Republican Party he can go in four years from ignored to a prominent voice, much the way Representative Paul did from 2007 to 2011. He will have shown the determination to pick up where Representative Paul has left off and move forward from there.

However, if he leaves to join the Libertarian Party and seek the presidential nomination there are many problems associated with doing so. The first of such problems is that the Libertarian Party is NOT a dumping ground for disaffected Republicans. The Libertarian Party of Alaska was wise enough to say no to Lisa Murkowski, and the Libertarian Party of Rhode Island was wise enough to say no to Daniel Gordon.

But the Libertarian Party was not wise enough to rebuff conservative Bob Barr, with whom Governor Johnson will be repeatedly compared. This is a comparison that will not go well considering that Governor Johnson's views on war are reported to be not as pure as those of Representative Paul's views. It is true that Governor Johnson initially supported the war in Afghanistan, but does not currently do so. It is also true that Governor Johnson wants to tie United States foreign policy to another country. A foreign policy of non-intervention is core to libertarianism. Given how both the Republican Party (except for Ron Paul) and the Democratic Party are pro-war, being pro-peace is very critical for anyone who would be as much of a spokesperson as the presidential nominee.

And on the issue of peace and war, the person who appears to be doing the most to bring Governor Johnson into the Libertarian Party is pro-war soi disant libertarian spokesperson Wayne Allyn Root, Bob Barr’s former running mate on the libertarian ticket in 2008. Perhaps Governor Johnson doesn’t know just how controversial Wayne Root is within the Libertarian Party, and how much his endorsement can actually hurt Governor Johnson within the party.

Riding on Bob Barr's coattails and being associated with Wayne Root - that is not the way to make a grand entrance into Libertarian Party politics. Doing so after not gaining ground in the Republican Party does damage to the image of the Libertarian Party with all of the false associations the press creates between the two parties. It would be a bad idea, both for Governor Johnson and for the Libertarian Party, for Governor Johnson to seek the Libertarian Party nomination.

1 comment:

Fred Mangels said...

Like you, I'm disappointed to hear of Wayne Root's support- and thus- relationship to Gary Johnson. However, I disagree that he shouldn't seek the LP nomination. I don't feel he has anywhere left to go.

His campaign for the Republican nomination got nowhere fast. It won't likely be any different four years from now. At least Ron Paul established a fairly credible organization last time he ran and that's gotten him to where is with his campaign today. Gary Johnson can't make that same claim. My guess is, if he runs again as a Republican four years from now, he'll get the same results.

He certainly won't get any more publicity as an LP candidate, but he'll certainly get more votes as one. I'll agree he doesn't have much to gain by switching to the LP, but he doesn't have anything to lose, either.