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Free to Plunder: The Case Against Gary Johnson and Libertarianism


#1

Free to Plunder: The Case Against Gary Johnson and Libertarianism

Tim Koechlin

A recent Quinnipiac poll reports that 19% of likely voters between the ages of 18 and 34 – “millennials” – plan to vote for Gary Johnson. Many of these voters identify as “progressive.” I find this confusing and troubling.

Gary Johnson is a libertarian. Like the Koch Brothers. Like Ayn Rand.

Libertarianism is not progressive; it is, to the contrary, profoundly and essentially reactionary. And you don’t need to be a left-winger to recognize that it is a dangerous philosophy of governance.


#2

If it isn't obvious by now, the ONLY candidate worth voting for is Jill Stein. Do our fellow peons have the intellect, and the strength to part ways with the status quo? Only time will tell ...


#3

"less than a decade ago, an unregulated financial sector nearly blew up the world economy." Not true, here is the real story: https://smile.amazon.com/Meltdown-Free-Market-Collapsed-Government-Bailouts/dp/1596985879/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477333820&sr=1-1&keywords=meltdown


#4

Although I was a Libertarian during the 60s and admire Ron Paul's efforts to audit the Fed, history disputes the premise of the book you are referencing, Jed.
From 1789 until New Deal financial sector regulations were enacted after the 1929 crash, the US experienced what were called "panics" at least every ten years. "Panics" were simply 2008 crashes that didn't affect many folks outside the US the way the 2008 crash did, but they had the same effect as 2008 in transferring wealth from the 99% to the 1%.
The Libertarian view was thoroughly road tested for 140 years and failed miserably from the 99%'s perspective and succeeded marvelously from the 1%'s perspective.

Until the New Deal regulations were scrapped between 1978 and 2007 they were road tested by preventing "panics" or anything close to a 2008 crash.

Agreed that the Fed needs to be reformed or destroyed, and Dodd/Frank and other "new regulations" that have increased the market share of too-big-to-fail banks from 25% to 50% since 2008 have solved nothing while increasing the magnitude of the next crash, it is irrelevant and unfair to compare anything Obama and today's best Congress money can buy with FDR and the drafters of the New Deal.

The answer to Koechin's question is simply: identity politics.

Many voters want a candidate who they can identify with sans issues. Most voters pay little attention to issues, except the single issue voters, most of whom focus on free college tuition, no gun laws, or no choice for women. If issues mattered Ross Perot would have won in 1992, served two terms and Ralph Nader would have won in 2000.

Many of Johnson's young supporters would be voting for Trump, except that Trump is viewed as an old person's candidate while Johnson has always been a maverick, with the GOP threatening to kick him out of the party when he was Governor of New Mexico because he favored legalizing pot.

Koechin also mentioned that Johnson is a candidate that many voters would like to drink a beer AND smoke joint with,,,a very positive selling point for voters not concerned with issues..


#6

Spot on! This is one of the most untold and unrealized truths of our lifetime.


#8

Which is why Libertarians are the primary political outlet promoted to capture the vote of those who rebel against the Dem-Rep duopoly. As many have already stated, with Bernie out, Jill Stein of the Green Party is the only reasonable option left. I was leaning voting for Trump (not because I like him, of course, but only to try to stop megalomaniacal HRC) but now that it's becoming evident that he is running only to make sure he loses, I'll most likely vote Green.

We are living in very depressing (end of) times.


#9

Iit would be different if the Libertarian philosophy were to let people do what they want to as long as they don't hurt anyone or our environment. But Libertarians do not recognize limits...that moderation is the key in all things. That having to much wealth and power is not natural or normal, hurts everyone else and destroys our environment.


#10

How is decriminalization/legalization NOT an issue? It would reduce the size and cost of government, keep productive and otherwise law-abiding citizens out of jail (and enable many more to pursue a life in public service as well), raise revenue for states, decrease crime, and make our laws more consistent and logical (since alcohol is not only legal but enshrined in American culture).


#11

I actually briefly considered voting for Gary Johnson before settling on Stein even while understanding most of the points of this article. In an ideal world, I think it is a good idea if presidential candidates have some experience as Governor or perhaps Mayor of a large city. That didn't stop me from voting for Ralph Nader but when I heard the claim that Johnson had succeeded in New Mexico (further reading has left me very skeptical on that pronouncement), I thought - well, if I vote for this guy, my vote will be added to the largest third party polling percentage and perhaps send a scarier message to the democrats that they are failing many voters. I also thought I could convince several Trump voters at work to vote with me (I'm the only Stein voter that I know of among dozens of people I've asked).

However, I quickly came to my senses months ago when Johnson was on Bill Maher and said that we don't have to regulate coal because consumer choice which is favoring clean natural gas was taking care of the problem. That is way up there on list of the most idiotic things I've heard a politician say. People don't buy energy at the grocery store and look at the ingredient list and say "yeah I'll take that one it's got a better carbon footprint". The market without regulation and taxes is completely useless on protecting us from dirtier forms of energy (coal is dirty from a CO2 perspective and just plain dirty as well). If we come to our senses and implement a significant carbon tax, the market can help but the libertarian view on just about everything but drug legalization and foreign policy is insane.


#13

Note: The points I present below exclude the dog-and-pony show of the primary presidential candidates of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as a whole different set of factors are present.


The most important question of all is this, "Why is Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party polling double-digit points over Jill Stein and the Green Party?"

Until left-leaners are willing to admit that the gap between Gary Johnson and Jill Stein is truly reflective of the electorate, the situation will not change. The following questions must be answered with brutal honesty.

  • Is it the message?

  • Is it how the message is being presented?

  • Is the message and/or presentation inclusive or divisive?

I contend that this article, while being mostly factual, is exceptionally divisive and is a perfect example of one of the reasons why Jill Stein and the Green Party is polling so poorly.

I am an Anarcho-Communist (Libertarian Socialist), I am as far left as it gets. There is one thing that is becoming clearer by the day, anarchists, as a whole, have absolutely no idea at all on how to present (sell) our principles so they are palatable to people who are in total opposition to what they believe anarchism or socialism/communism really means ... not the propaganda utilized by the elite ruling class to crush such ideals and principles. Honestly, I must accept responsibility for being a primary offender.

It is my belief that progressives face the same affliction.

It is not enough to have the right message. The message and the presentation must not only be palatable ... it must attract attention, support and loyalty from a broad base of the electorate.

I have asked at least 30 people over the last six months why they don't (or didn't) support Bernie Sanders and/or Jill Stein. The top two responses, in order, are as follows:

  • I don't believe in socialism [*], and

  • He or she sounds like an angry, old has-been or similar state of being.

[*] It is absolutely mind-numbing the number of people who believe that social (or socialized) programs is socialism. That, alone, tells the story of the education system in the U.S.

Disclaimer: While most anarchists advocate against voting because we advocate against Statism (of which government is a part,) I, as a personal decision, acknowledge that we do not live under anarchy and that I have a personal responsibility to advocate for the programs and policies that help the masses at this point in time. As an expat living in South America, I mailed in my vote for Jill Stein two weeks ago.


#14

That government that governs least, governs best.

That's the principal of libertarian ism.

The minimum wage law works against unions. Why join or belong or support a union when the government can take care of your wants and needs.

Libertarians oppose the Taft-Harley law and want to so it eliminated. The "Right to Work" laws are really government interference in the free market place, and interference between the ability to two sides to reach an agreement over the bargaining table.

Society is obligated to provide education for youth. But society is not obligated to deliver that education.

There are many rational ideas that the libertarians support.


#15

Most Americans are clueless about what constitutes "left" and "right" -- words like "liberal" and "progressive" in the US are meaningless because they dare not recognize the fundamental problem: capitalism. This is not a beast to make compromises with. Meanwhile, libertarians continue to smuggle their sociopathic wares into (what passes for) US political discourse -- legalizing marijuana and being anti-war appeal to people who don't know any better.

How about some background: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/libertarian-liberal-gary-johnson-deliberation/


#17

Well written, thank you. May I ask how messege access factors in? That popular media and M$M might be more quick to avoid or mock one group over another? I feel that Bernie was able to get his campaign out so well mainly because the popularity contest, horse-race etc allowed it (it was exciting in context of Gotcha!). The issues resonated with those who decided to pay attention, but the attention was first received do to the drama. So just coming up with attractive messaging is not enough, one has to consider all the ways the majority can not listen. Bait and Switch to our favor?


#18

Think a minute: The Clinton wing have slowly been implementing the libertarian agenda since the 1990s, and even liberals have been fine with it. Hillary Clinton just takes a slower approach, quietly transitioning to a solidly libertarian agenda, while Gary Johnson takes a more direct approach.

What we call welfare "reform" is a 100% libertarian social agenda, along with phasing out Social Security (begun by Bill Clinton, who targeted the disabled). Again, even liberals have been fine with this.


#19

On "Social Security without having paid in:" Social Security was established to be collectively funded, for the common good. It provides retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits. Millions of elderly women who were full-time moms, never in the workplace, paying into Social Security, nevertheless have qualified for benefits. Social Security also provides benefits to workers who become too disabled to work.


#20

Yes, there are positive points of libertarianism and one of their main selling points it the government we have today - military involvements around the world, massive waste and corruption, the death penalty, erosion of civil liberties and privacy, the imprisonment of millions, Guantanamo, etc, etc - the list goes on. In theory, given that we minded our own business and led honorable lives, less government would be necessary. Our current government is owned almost lock, stock and barrel by the oligarchy. Libertarians didn't do that. The most powerful and wealthy used the government to create monopolies, etc. True libertarianism is about doing no harm to another while maintaining liberties. Not an easy challenge.

Given that, I don't think Gary Johnson has made a good case. He is for the TPP which to me only gives up our sovereign rights and freedom to set our own laws and rules - it hands them over to private hands. He also seems to be lacking in knowledge about the world and different nations. Given everything ...it looks like the Green party will be the best choice as far as civil rights and liberties go and protecting us from elite, globalist agendas.


#21

"Libertarian" and "socialist" are complete opposites. It's like saying that you're a leftist right-winger.


#22

Your understanding and belief is entirely wrong. However, it is understandable since your knowledge and belief are based on the principles of the Libertarian Party in the U.S. which has bastardized the original libertarian principles established in the 1800s in Europe. You can learn about the basics of Libertarian Socialism on Wikipedia ... not from a Libertarian Socialist source I could provide that you would consider propaganda.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing! :wink:


#23

The book refered to here has a forward by Ron Paul. The principals engendered in "no government" are encapsulated in the original German title of the motion picture "Kaspar Hauser", "Everyone for Himself and God Against All". Need more be said?


#24

We certainly are. Bummer!