From the Editor: On the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson

From the Editor
Harrison Otto

More stories from Harrison Otto

April 10, 2017

Clinton or Trump? A pretty popular question that not only seems to have voters stumped, but also has somehow carved one of the most deepest divides in modern American politics. As the media and pop culture have gained a tighter hold over public view of the election and the two candidates, people often struggle to find anything positive to say about either of them. Hillary has been deemed a liar, and Trump a bigot- so where does that leave a frustrated America when it’s only options for commander in chief fall short?

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has a lot of people hooked.

The Libertarian Party is a third party that has ran in the past few recent elections, but has not been able to gain as much recognition as during this 2016 election season- and may prove to surprise many voters yet.

Libertarians are mostly unknown because they are a strange mix between the standard liberal and conservative. With social issues they tend to lean towards more personal choice, and with economic issues they stagger on the right. The party might reject a Republican decision on LGBT rights but also might reject the Democrats’ efforts to increase corporate taxes.

Johnson, who was a very popular governor of New Mexico for two terms (1995 – 2003), is running on the party’s ticket. His running mate, Bill Weld was also the governor of Massachusetts. And due to the hostility of the circus that has become the 2016 election, many people find a safe haven in Johnson- possibly the only reasonable, experienced, and level headed candidate who passes on the name calling and instead wants to talk about real issues.

 Johnson now polls at 10% nationally, and 14% among independents, according to the New York Times, which is the biggest turnout a third party candidate has received in a long time. In fact, if he reaches 15%, Johnson will be battling it out with Hillary and Trump on the debate stage- which could prove to be a game changer.

The boost in popularity comes from many things:

First, many people are making their political choices by what they hear on TV rather than what they investigate for themselves. Social media and the news constantly state that Hillary is an evil liar that had a secret email server, and that Donald Trump is a racist, greedy businessman. When both pictures are equally as bad, some start to explore other lesser known options.

Also, after Bernie Sanders was beaten in the primaries by Hillary Clinton, his followers were all left out to dry with a new nominee that fails to produce the anti-establishment spirit that Bernie captured. So they too have flocked to Johnson’s support base.

Lastly, he pulls from other independents, moderates, and other reaches of the political spectrum that no longer support either of the two major parties — something that the Libertarian Party feeds from.

When comparing his agenda to the likes of Clinton or Trump, it is easy to see why people are deeming him a fit alternative. Johnson is the only candidate who wants to stop big government spending. Trump wants to increase military spending, while Hillary will to use more taxpayer money for inefficient welfare reforms.

Johnson wants to create more jobs a better economy by decreasing business and corporate taxes instead of heavily taxing the upper class in hopes of equally distributing income. Instead of building walls, Johnson calls for more practical immigration reform. In the area of foreign policy, he opposes the world police attitude that has created many modern Islamic extremist groups and wants to rather focus on issues at home. He’s against government spying, supports term limits, and wants to end the money wasting drug war.

Furthermore, both he and his running mate were both very popular and successful governors of their respective states, and have experience in that specific type of executive office. During his years as governor of New Mexico, Johnson managed to cut taxes across the board, including lowering the income tax, gasoline tax, and unemployment tax. His similar fiscal action has promoted much economic growth for the state and created lots of new jobs.

Overall, Gary Johnson comes off as the mellow, yet intelligent, level headed candidate that wants to focus on doing rather than kissing up to voter minorities. Despite this, 10% of the popular vote won’t win the election- and party loyalty is so strong and deep rooted in American culture that a vast majority still can’t comprehend not voting for the red or blue.

The argument follows from both the Dems and Republicans that a vote for Johnson is a vote for their opponent. And so, the tug of war begins, with Hillary and Trump at each end while Johnson stands on the side, and waits rather quietly for people to stop watching the madness unfold on their television screens and their car radios.

But hold on, there is one bright spot:

The way our electoral college works, a candidate must receive at least 270 of the electoral votes in the general election. If by chance, Johnson can win just even one or two smaller states during the election to prevent Hillary or Trump from getting a majority of 270, then it is by the 12th Amendment that the vote goes to the House of Representatives. And with a Republican majority House, it is not far fetched to say that many Republicans will finally abandon their hesitant ride on the Trump Train. It has already been speculated that GOP bigwigs like Romney, Bush, and Cruz could endorse Johnson.

However, while the chance of that scenario is only a possibility, it is agreed that Johnson has to make the debates in order for him to have a true shot.

Nevertheless, Johnson stands on a new frontier of a very complex and confusing stage of American politics. Many could argue that he is the most successful third party candidate since Ross Perot- drawing from a very similar voter base. The only things that seems to stand in Johnson’s way are the fences and walls that outline and support the Republican and Democrat party gridlock. The fear of getting the worst candidate pressures the voter into choosing the other party rather than choosing the candidate who aligns best with their beliefs.

So, the election will come on November 8th. And until then, Johnson has to work on convincing the entire country that he is a valid contender in a race that is about to get even nastier. But no matter who assumes the office of the President, Johnson’s campaign has proven that Americans are fed up with the Blue and the Red.

So that hopefully, next time they will choose the Libertarian yellow instead.