Why Not Gary Johnson?

Many of the friends I worked with back in my Republican days have recoiled, understandably, from the candidacy of Donald Trump. Some of them will vote for Hillary Clinton, but others are longtime GOP activists who–despite being heartsick about the current state of the party–cannot bring themselves to pull a Democratic lever.

I do sympathize. When you’ve spent your adult life working for a particular political agenda, it can seem like blasphemy to defect to the other side. (On the other hand, several newspapers have endorsed a Democrat for the first time, and numerous high-ranking Republicans have done so, recognizing that Trump’s GOP is no longer the party they originally joined.)

Several of them plan to vote for Gary Johnson, the libertarian, despite the fact that a vote for a third-party candidate is still a vote for Trump, albeit an indirect one.

I wonder if they really understand what Johnson (“what’s Aleppo?” “I can’t name any foreign leaders”) really stands for. Perhaps they don’t care, since there is no way a third-party candidate will win, but it’s interesting to look beyond the Libertarian’s popular support for legalizing marijuana, to other positions that are a bit less attractive.

A recent article catalogs them.Here are just a few of his more…interesting… positions.

  • No gun control. At all. Johnson says Americans would be safer if everyone was armed.
  • No minimum wage. At all. In July, he told the Washington Examiner that, if given the chance, “I would sign legislation to abolish it.” (In 1999, during his first term as New Mexico governor, Johnson did veto a bill that would have raised his state’s minimum wage from $4.25 an hour to $5.65.)
  • He opposes laws requiring equal pay for men and women doing the same job.
  • He opposes collective bargaining for public employees, and in New Mexico, vetoed the renewal of that state’s collective bargaining law.
  • He advocates cuts to Social Security
  • He wants to remove the federal government’s role in Medicare and Medicaid.
  • He supports privatized prisons.
  • He supports privatizing public education.

These are positions that my friends who are voting Libertarian for President are endorsing.

At least Johnson isn’t running around calling women “fat pigs” and whining that he lost a debate because they gave him a bad mic….I guess that’s something. So several people I know are determined to cast a protest vote for him, or for Jill Stein, to “send a message.”

It’s not the message they think they’re sending, however. As Clay Shirkey recently wrote in the Huffington Post

But it doesn’t matter what message you think you are sending, because no one will receive it. No one is listening. The system is set up so that every choice other than “R” or “D” boils down to “I defer to the judgement of my fellow citizens.” It’s easy to argue that our system shouldn’t work like that. It’s impossible to argue it doesn’t work like that….

Throwing away your vote on a message no one will hear, and which will change no outcome, is sometimes presented as “voting your conscience,” but that’s got it exactly backwards; your conscience is what keeps you from doing things that feel good to you but hurt other people. Citizens who vote for third-party candidates, write-in candidates, or nobody aren’t voting their conscience, they are voting their ego, unable to accept that a system they find personally disheartening actually applies to them.



  1. Yes, there is something very egocentric in wasting one’s vote. In that sense it is completely anti-democratic, in my view. We live in an age when the ‘I am more important than the election’ has become an art. After all it gave us George Bush 2 and Mike Pence if you check, after all Rupert was a nice guy.

  2. Sheila; thank you for the excellent information regarding what the Libertarian party stands for…duh, against. Hearing it in bits and pieces through election years gave it no “meat” so, thank you.

    I was an Independent voter till recent years; I have stated before that I resent the current “Republican” party forcing me to vote a straight Democratic ticket. I understood Bernie; he was an elected Independent. I was strongly drawn to Barack Obama, and remain so, after reading his book, “The Audacity Of Hope”. For those who don’t know the basis of the book; he believed this country could and would return to the days when Democrats and Republicans would sit at the bargaining table and find solutions to our problems. I still hold that “audacity of hope”; wonder if he does.

    As for Gary Johnson; he appears to hold out no hope for anyone bettering themselves in this country and wants to turn it into the “OK Corral” set in poverty-ridden cities nation wide. His campaign foundation stands for nothing tangible; he would move us further back into the early 20th Century than the current GOP “standards”. If any party can claim to have “standards” with Trump leading them and us into oblivion.

    I watched the news clip of Gary Johnson being interviewed; ending his comments with his tongue sticking out at the woman interviewing him. Not to believe he was being sexist; I watch another news clip of him ending his conversation by climbing onto his chair and standing there while being interviewed by a man. How can he be taken seriously; or is this a deliberate attempt to assure he won’t be elected and he doesn’t have the balls to back out?

    Jill Stein arrested for painting a bulldozer in protest. Gary Johnson with tongue hanging out or standing on his chair but still getting supporters against Donald Trump who defies all description and Hillary still being denigrated for unfounded issues Congress spent million of tax dollars trying to bury her. There can be no doubt that the United States has lost credibility, trust and respect from other world leaders which President Obama has fought so hard to increase and maintain. Our diplomatic relations have suffered; can we rebuild them or will this fiasco of a presidential election give Russia, Iran and North Korea a foothold in power and increase the terrorism inflicted by ISIS and ISIL?

  3. He impresses me as Trump Lite. He hasn’t done his homework and I believe he thinks that the other candidates are so distasteful to voters that all he has to do is smile at the camera and wave. I wonder how many voters he will attract on election day.

  4. In the Town Hall the other night, I came to appreciate Bill Weld more and Gary Johnson less. Weld honestly appraised the two major party candidates, saying Hillary was well qualified to be President, the Donald not at all qualified. I wonder if he wanted to add that Hillary was much better qualified than his running mate.

  5. You missed a big one. Johnson is against mandatory vaccinations – he wants it to be a purely voluntary program.

  6. This election is far too important, far to pivotal, and far too close for folks to throw their votes away. I voted for John Anderson in 1980 since I’d just didn’t believe what Ron Reagan was saying nor could I really vote for Jimmy Carter. I did so on principle as I was a moderate Republican back than and felt that Reagan was way too extreme and that Jimmy had lost the people’s confidence. I was an undergrad political science major at that time and it was an interesting experience for me but I threw my vote away.

    I have a lot of friends that are libertarians and I wonder sometimes if they really know what they stand for and whether it’s just the angst that they feel because there are no good choices. We’re in a real quandary right now over what the direction and leadership of this country should and will be the one thing is very clear and that is Donald Trump has no business being a presidential candidate nor being President of United States.

    We have a little more than a month to wake up to the fact that electing Donald Trump because we all want change seemingly for change’s sake could be an absolute catastrophe. Never in any of our lifetimes have we been faced with such a stark choice as we do right now.

    Friends of mine who are very rational normal people have bought into the anti Hillary Clinton propaganda hook, line, and sinker. They are so angry that they are oblivious to the dangers associated with everything that Mr. Trump or the Republican Party propose that would adversely affect them directly. They do not pay attention to the fact that as baby boomers they are all vulnerable to these crazy ideas that the republicans have regarding social security, Medicare, Medicaid, the impact of climate change, issues of war and peace, education, civil rights, and everything else that affects all of us. Add to that they seem oblivious to Mr. Trump’s penchant for misogyny, insults, and other behaviors that are beneath the dignity of the office he seeks.

    I just hope and pray actually that’s something derails this catastrophe before it’s too late. That old adage of being careful what you ask for because you may get it takes on more meaning right now than it likely ever has. Change can be good but change can also be bad.

  7. Kim Stanley Robinson, in the book, Green Mars, characterized Libertarians as “anarchists who want police protection from their slaves.” That’s stuck with me for good reason, and seems to go right along with voting one’s ego. I think there’s another driver, though, and I see it in our niece, and that is naive idealism. I think if she really looked at Johnson’s positions, she’d be appalled. She posted a bit about “voting your conscience” being an act of free speech. I thought that was interesting, but for another reason altogether. Yeah, it may be speech, but as you point out, no one’s listening. But if it’s speech, and importantly, political speech, wouldn’t voting be subject to First Amendment protections? And if that’s the case, what happens to all those voter supp… excuse me, voter ID laws, especially now that North Carolina has made their real intent unambiguous? “There’s a compelling state interest in having them,” you say. We’ll, not if can find only 4 cases of ID-based vote fraud over the last 16 years. “But, 19 dead people just turned up as newly registered voters in Virginia'” you reply. Yes, and I’ll bet they all have a valid state ID.

    But, I ramble.

  8. Johnson has some experience in politics…more than Trump who doesn’t seems to have learned much yet. But no one in any political party can match Hillary’s encyclopedic knowledge, intellectual ability, determination, patience and tact. Even the relentless, well-rehearsed witchery of Trey Goudy couldn’t rattle her.
    I, too, cannot fathom the Hoosier mentality of mindlessly supporting a party that has lost its way.
    The Republican Party has been self-destructing for many decades with the abetting of Pence and predecessors (think Quayle, etc.).
    Republicans, turn to Trump! He has shown it doesn’t pay to be a “Conservative”. He’ll show you how to rid your Platform of some of the funny stuff, send the Party moniker into oblivion.

  9. Johnson has some experience in politics…more than Trump who doesn’t seems to have learned much yet. But no one in any political party can match Hillary’s encyclopedic knowledge, intellectual ability, determination, patience and tact. Even the relentless, well-rehearsed witchery of Trey Goudy couldn’t rattle her.
    I, too, cannot fathom the Hoosier mentality of mindlessly supporting a party that has lost its way.
    The Republican Party has been self-destructing for many decades with the abetting of Pence and predecessors (think Quayle, etc.).
    Republicans, turn to Trump! He has shown it doesn’t pay to be a “Conservative”. He’ll show you how to rid your Platform of some of the funny stuff, send the Party moniker into oblivion.

  10. The, “don’t vote for third parties” is just more guilt imposed by party loyalists who have turned up their nose and accepted their party is corrupt.


    Because they get something from the party they support. The average American hasn’t been supported by either party for decades.

    Neoliberalism has been embraced by both parties. Fascism is a right wing solution to neoliberalism. Trump appeals to Americans who have been abandoned and ignored. Our so-called political class has ignored the voters until it’s time to vote. Americans forget quickly.

    Still, voting for the lesser of two evils is still supporting evil. If you’re okay with that, support it. Don’t guilt others into making the same poor choice so you feel okay with it.

    As for people not listening to Third Party voters, that’s just plain rhetoric. Does anybody remember what Hillary Clinton’s platform looked like before Bernie Sanders revolution took off?

    It looked very republican. Want to guess on how many promises she’ll renege on?

    Progressives got screwed by Obama. I loved Louis Farrakhan’s take on, “Obama’s Legacy” speech made to the Congressional Black Caucus. If you haven’t heard Louis’s words, it’s worth a Google search. Also, Michelle Alexander is speaking out as well.

    As for the GOP, it hasn’t had a platform outside of racism since the 1960’s.

    Liberals are soft because they mainly talk with little action. We like to hear our own words. Just remember, if you’re 50+, you helped create this mess for the next generation to clean up. We watched the Democratic Party switch from the party of the people to the party for Wall Street. The GOP has always relied on manipulation for votes, but since the 90’s, so has the D’s. There is no party for the people in 2016. Both are owned by moneyed interests, including the media outlets who claim to be holding them accountable. ?

  11. Todd; I copied and pasted this section of your comments because we are of the same mind set. Bernie posted his letter to the chairman of “Bernie Or Bust” on Facebook to make public why he had, after much delay, agreed to endorse Hillary. I copied down thirteen issues she had to agree to make part of the Democratic campaign foundation and sat with it in hand on the last night of the convention. She did include them in her acceptance speech but…how many will she renege on or put little effort into pushing through whatever Congress we end up with?

    ” Does anybody remember what Hillary Clinton’s platform looked like before Bernie Sanders revolution took off?

    It looked very republican. Want to guess on how many promises she’ll renege on?”

    One issue not listed in his letter made me laugh, cheer, applaud and brought tears to my eyes and pride to my heart; when he stated at the convention that Hillary had his support and his vote, he did not mention transferring his 46% of the electorate vote to her total. He maintained that hard earned 46% and it will be part of this election history. He deserved then and will deserve in the future, credit for any of the issues she honors…if elected. He has returned to his Senate seat and is back in full fighting form for the people.

  12. What is to me odd is that votes for either Don the con or Johnson seemed to be cast to favor an outsider in politics.

    It’s easy to agree that over the last 8 years Washington has been broken. We made it through with a completely dysfunctional almost absent Congress and a wounded Supreme Court.

    What saved us? The Executive Branch.

    So outsiders are easy to favor. Those outside of the GOP which is what’s clearly broken. So broken that they couldn’t even find a legitimate candidate for this election.

  13. For those of you who are liberals/progressives, a message: Bernie Sanders says it is imperative that you vote for Clinton if you want Bernie’s movement to survive, and if you don’t like the Democratic Party the way it is, you may not be aware that they practically beg for more participation and trust me, you can change things if you get involved. Just go to a meeting and ask how you can help. It is not an authoritarian structure like the GOP, and anyone with energy can make a real difference.

    For those of you who are conservatives, I think you should vote for Johnson. The GOP has been giving you the Johnson for years, so you may as well be honest with yourself and vote for it.

  14. Todd is correct. There is no party that represents average people anymore, but part of the problem is individual greed within all of us. Look at all the issues and the hypocrisy that surrounds them:

    Pro-sports players protesting–At first it was due to police issues and the black community, then others added they did it in part due to economic inequality in the community. All pro-sports players are taxpayer subsidized individuals. Funny how those protesting economic inequality never said one word when people of all income levels were taxed to build stadiums for their team owners. Again, greed, on a very large scale. I also don’t recall them protesting their low tax rates either.

    K-12 funding–Lots of schools have built very fancy and very costly facilities, then they turn around and demand more for the basics (teachers, classroom equipment, etc.). I’ve seen some of these athletic facilities and the money spent is a complete waste. If you are against the K-12 Taj Mahal Industrial Complex, then you are painted as anti-education. The fact remains, people only have so much money after taxes to save for retirement and pay down debt, the thousands more they have to pay K-12 just means more years in debt, less money to save for retirement. I never once heard the teachers and admin protest the millions going to athletic facilities. However, go after pensions and union power, they will be down at the state house protesting away. I get it, everyone wants to work in a five start facility, but something has got to give when taxes on a $400K home are over $10,000 PER YEAR for a school district that the owners won’t even send their kids to. That is just madness.

    The Republicans like to pretend that trickle down economics works. We all know it doesn’t, too much greed. However, the only option the Democrat party offers is trickle up poverty. That party doesn’t do anything for the offshoring of jobs, for H1B Visa workers, for over-paid executives. All they do is promise the majority we will have some great welfare benefits so we just need to shut up and enjoy a crime ridden, low income style of living when we end up jobless or in a very low paying job. Just look at Democrat player Mylan CEO Heather Bresch. She makes millions of dollars, takes in millions after taxes, yet no high ranking Democrat says anything about that. Maybe it is because her dad is a Democrat Party politician, and she doles out money to others? All I hear about the Democrat party and raising taxes is that they want to increase it a minuscule amount. Who needs millions to raise a family of six? Who needs a second vacation home that cost $600K? When will we actually have a person who will take these assets, or tax them at a proper rate, so these multi-millionaire Democrats, and Republicans, can finally pay their fair share? So I want to know, when will the DNC finally say that any household income over say $175K/year is taxable at 90%? The fact is, we will never see a true tax rate that is needed to provide all the great social benefits that are promised. The people in power, or their friends and family, make well over $175K/year and there is no way in hell they are going to confiscated millions from them in the name of “great good.”

    Enjoy the decline.

  15. I believe there are some other things to consider:

    I’m a lifelong conservative, but the GOP has abandoned me and adopted an approach I don’t support with the selection of this candidate, who is in every way unfit to be president of the United States, and has in many ways disrespected and destroyed the values I aligned with in the GOP. Since the Clinton Administration, I always felt I could never support Hillary given her demonstrated serial dishonesty.

    Certainly stalwart supporters of either candidate will disagree with my summarization on these two, but consider that liberals deselected Clinton in the past and Mitt Romney or John McCain almost certainly wouldn’t have lost the nomination to Trump, to say nothing of an individual who didn’t run, Mitch Daniels. That said, Clinton is clearly the most qualified to lead this country and Trump appears to offer the most radical change for change’s sake. Those two summarizations alone, though, dont give me sufficient reason to affirmatively support either with my vote, in good conscience. So, this election, I have no one to support among the two major parties.

    The widening polarization in politics tells me it’s time for a viable third party with more centrist views. With an entire career in construction and real estate, one of the things most disliked in competitive bidding is receipt of only two bids. These establish only high and low and nothing in between and don’t provide proper frame of reference for selection of the lowest qualified bidder. How do those of us who want to see a change to the political system bring it about? I think it’s by making our voices heard with our votes. Thoughtful and beneficial change is incremental and gradual. But if those of us who want it don’t continue to say so, how can it ever happen?

    Gary Johnson may not be the perfect answer, but in addition to some questionable views cherry picked above, he does present a common sense approach to many issues. And, who knows – if enough people make their views heard, perhaps in some election cycle down the road, we will be able to hear another set of views that might build enough support among the electorate to either offer a viable third alternative, or at least shift the narrative among the two established parties.

  16. What I find interesting in listening to the Trumpet supporters and the Hillary supporters is the Fear each side views the potential election of one or the other. As a Bernie Bot I find virtually nothing compelling me about voting for the Trumpet or Hillary.

    Bernie’s movement cannot survive within the Corporate Establishment Democratic Party. The DNC , the 1%, the McMega-Media and the Super Delegates made it quite clear they favored Hillary Clinton. You might think the Democratic Hierarchy might have reviewed their steady and inexorable decline nationally and in the states and reversed course away from Corporate Control of policy and candidates. No, that was not going to happen.

    Here in Indiana if you are a Democrat, you get Hillary, Bayh, or Gregg. What thoroughly uninspiring choices. New leadership, new ideas we would not want that in the Democratic Party.

  17. Louie; regarding our presidential choices and the Democratic choices of Hillary, Bayh and Gregg – all are better than the proverbial poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

  18. “…a vote for a third-party candidate is still a vote for Trump, albeit an indirect one.” I agree this to be the case when voting for Jill Stein. But if Johnson is siphoning votes away FROM Trump, how is that an indirect vote FOR Trump? It seems to me to be an advantage for Clinton. No?

  19. Louie it’s clear that the DNC favored Hillary. So did the Democrat rank and file by a wide margin.

    Why do you believe that those who didn’t vote for Hillary know more about her than those who did?

  20. There is no shortage of ignorance in some of these comments. Strange from democrats whom love to ballyhoo the ignorance of others. Sheila, you are wrong. People want change. That’s why an inexperienced and untested senator got elected President and why an avowed socialist had a notable showing in the primary. Libertarian is about maximizing freedoms. Johnson has stated while he follows that principal he is very willing and able to sit down with opposing people and hash out the best solution. He’s got a record of that. If you want to sell out to a crooked, hypocritical career politician or even an egotistical moron then go ahead…that’s truly throwing away your vote.

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