What a long strange trip it’s been.
It seemed fairly certain from the beginning that Hillary Clinton was going to be the Democratic nominee. Yuck. Having lived through 8 years of Clintons, I didn’t look forward to the possibility of getting them back in the White House.
Then Donald Trump descended his escalator and I realized one important thing—at least I did survive the Clintons. I didn’t think my Republican Party was stupid, venal, or suicidal enough to pick him—especially with so many other far superior candidates—but I kept a wary eye on him nonetheless. I knew plenty about Trump, dating all the way back to the Spy magazine days in the 1980s, and I figured once the GOP knew what I knew they’d send him packing. I had failed to realize how useful the media friendships he’d spent a lifetime cultivating would turn out to be. I should have seen that coming. Ah, well.
So, in my household, which now contains 4 adults and just one child left (sniffle), we were voting one Jindal, one Cruz, and 2 Bernie (college kids gonna college, you know?). The child was Cruz with me, but couldn’t do much about it, other than go to a rally—which we did, the Sunday before our Indiana primary. We saw Cruz and Heidi, Fiorina, Mike Lee, Louis Gohmert, and surprise guest Glenn Beck. It was thrilling, and short lived.
We all know what happened that Tuesday. Amazingly, the only one I still respect is Glenn Beck.
So, bereft of a candidate, I still hoped something—anything—would bring the party back to its senses (nothing has yet, despite the manifest unfitness of Donald Trump, made clearer every day by his boorish behavior, inability to articulate policies, lack of self-control, and multiple legal opportunities to be instantly impeached if elected. I believe he is the first major party candidate to run while being sued for fraud on both coasts and for raping an underage child. Clearly, he’s broken the “ass ceiling”.) While awaiting the convention, I began to cast a wider net for presidential possibilities.
I watched the Libertarian convention, intrigued by the pro-life candidate, Austin Petersen (watch this guy; he’ll be back). For a short moment, there was a flurry of national interest, but he was defeated by former Republican governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, who briefly ran for president in 2012 as a Republican, then dropped out and became the Libertarian nominee, instead.
Once I did my homework, I found my candidate. Gary Johnson is everything the Republican Party should have become a long time ago. You can find a more expansive report of his positions in my write-up of his Purdue University appearance here. However, here are just a few of my reasons for supporting him:
Partnership: Gary Johnson and Bill Weld approach this election offering a new, unique, and sensible vision of the presidency. Not only do they recognize the Constitutional limitations of presidential power (Johnson frequently reminds interviewers he is not running for dictator or King) they offer themselves as a team, understanding that the presidency is large and complex, requiring the most flexible of skill sets. Rather than proposing his family members become primary advisors (as both Clinton and Trump have, with Bill and Ivanka), Johnson plans to enable a useful, functional, and Constitutional Vice-Presidency.
The Constitution: No one can convince me that Clinton or Trump will protect it, or that Trump has even read it. Hillary wants to violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments with a “no fly/no gun” list, while Trump wants to do the same with already-ruled-unconstitutional stop-and-frisk expanded nationwide. Johnson and Weld, who like to flash their pocket Constitutions, oppose both.
Free Trade: Once upon a time, Republicans understood the importance of free trade. Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mike Pence were proud of their states’ ability to benefit from trade with Mexico and Canada, and China and Japan. Now, however, it seems that only economist Thomas Sowell remembers that former cornerstone of conservatism. Johnson and Weld are the only free-trade advocates in the race, as Clinton has (like Ted Cruz) reversed her original stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, and Trump’s threats to smack other nations with punishing tariffs are as far from free trade as it gets.
Experience and Competence: Between them, Johnson and Weld have more executive experience in government than both of the other two tickets put together. Each was a successful 2-term governor. Each managed a largely “blue” state with conservative economic principles, and left the state better off than he found it. Johnson vetoed over 700 attempts by the New Mexico legislature to waste taxpayer money or limit freedom.
Change: Partisans on both sides of the major parties claim they represent “change.” Hillary would be the first woman president, decidedly a “change” from the previously all-male series of forty-four. Donald Trump represents “change” in the sense that he would be the least governmentally-qualified president in history, and he intends to go to Washington to throw out all the politicians he has funded for decades and run the government with “common sense.” But as great a change as either of these would be a president that did not come out of either of the two major parties, was beholden to no Congressional caucus, and had no baggage.
Moral character: To defeat the other tickets this year on this particular point, all Johnson and Weld have to be is honest and decent. Since Hillary Clinton lies instrumentally to cover her mistakes, and Donald Trump lies pathologically, seemingly because he cannot help himself, Gary Johnson’s occasional good-natured admission of guilt for gaffes and mistakes is a welcome reassurance that he is neither a robot nor a Bond villain.
Issues: this is the part where the reader accuses me—a pro-life Christian—of deep hypocrisy for supporting a ticket that is, as they frequently say, “socially inclusive” on issues like abortion and gay marriage. This charge would be true—if I believed that civil government is the proper arbiter for these questions. However, I do not. Having studied the history of pro-life activism, though I have previously advocated pro-life legal action, I have gradually come to see that the greatest progress in pro-life efforts comes from personal interaction, not political action. No law can soften the heart of someone who does not feel the wrong of abortion keenly, viscerally, and sincerely. Better those of us who feel that wrong work privately, changing minds and hearts to the point that there is no need of law.
On the issue of gay marriage, I see no path of reversal. Again, this is an issue of personal conviction, individual persuasion, and in some cases religious conversion. Johnson/Weld’s social inclusion does not violate religious conscience in this matter (though the Petersen faction has said it does), in that they advocate a fundamentally hands-off policy by government, similar to the non-discrimination bill recently passed in Utah. Essentially, as far as the “cake question” settles, if one has cakes for sale, one must sell to anyone, regardless of orientation. However, one is not required to decorate it in a way they find offensive.
These are not the only matters on which Johnson/Weld is far superior to Clinton/Kaine and Trump/Pence. However, my editorial space is limited. At another time I will explain why the Libertarian candidates’ stance on immigration, marijuana legalization, and non-intervention would make for a better, safer, and more peaceful America. For now, I will simply conclude with this: I endorse Gary Johnson for President of the United States, and I urge every American to vote for him in November.