Gary Johnson is a lesser evil

Above is a partial version of an interview with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate, on C-Span.   Click on this to see the full interview.  Click on this to see the C-Span interview with Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate.


Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President, is a likeable individual, and I believe he is an honest one.

He meets the two most important of my three litmus tests for a Presidential candidate.   I don’t believe he would start wars and I think he would respect the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.  If he were the only opponent of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I would vote for him.

But he doesn’t meet my third criterion, which is to set limits on corporate power and end the growing concentration of American wealth into the hands of a tiny minority of bankers, corporate executives and holders of financial assets.

He opposes the minimum wage at any level.

He would replace the income tax and all other taxes with a consumption tax, which would shift the burden of taxation away from the wealthy and onto the shoulders of the middle class.

He is the only one of the four candidates who openly supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.  The TPP and similar agreements, in the guise of promoting free trade, limit the power of sovereign governments to regulate foreign corporations.

While he recognizes the reality of global climate change, he thinks intelligent consumer choice would be sufficient to counteract it, and opposes governmental action.

He agrees with the Citizens United decision on campaign financing, and opposes any limits on campaign spending or contributions.

As Governor of New Mexico, he favored private prisons and privatizing public education.

Like most libertarians, he is a champion of civil liberties, and would be a better defender of the Bill of Rights than pro-Obama or pro-Clinton liberals.   But also like most libertarians, he thinks threats to liberty can only come from government, and has little concern about abuses of corporate power.

His great merit is that he recognizes the danger of blundering into nuclear war with Russia, which Hillary Clinton does not.  For me, this counts for a lot.  But there is a better choice—Jill Stein of the Green Party.


The Libertarians’ Secret Weapon by Ryan Lizza for The New Yorker.

Full Interview With Libertarian Presidential Nominee Gary Johnson on C-Span.

Gary Johnson Lays Out a Sane, Coherent Skeptical Foreign Policy by Anthony L. Fisher for Reason.

Gary Johnson’s Hard Right Record by Nick Tabor for Jacobin.

Why You Shouldn’t Vote for Gary Johnson by Tessa Stuart for Rolling Stone.

Gary Johnson Wikipedia page.

Libertarian Party (United States) Wikipedia page.

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3 Responses to “Gary Johnson is a lesser evil”

  1. AFH Says:


    Consider this on your third litmus point:

    Libertarians DO want to limit corporate power, even more than progressives. They want to do it differently, and in a way I think is far more effective. Instead of limiting corporations, they want to limit what anyone, including corporations can make government do.

    Right now, because the limits placed on the government were subverted by twentieth century fascists, corporations are using our legislatures as an arena to do battle against each other and against the consumer. It is out of control and it is corrupt to the core.

    Every time we try and limit corporations through law, but not limit government, the corporations just weasel around the law. They redefine themselves, or they create proxies. Government remains corruptible.

    We try to limit campaign spending and what happens? Third parties are cut off of the ballot. Ballot initiatives become out of reach of the people at large, but corporations and their major party lackys remain unaffected, or even strengthened as the people are no longer a competitor for the representation in the legislatures.

    The limiting of government is the limiting of corporations and makes their access to wealth a moot point when it comes to corruption.


    • philebersole Says:

      You raise deep issues, and a full reply to your comment probably would require a separate post. But a few points—

      Sufficiently large institutions tend to take on the characteristics of government, including having their own uniformed and armed police.

      Corporations, whether for-profit or non-profit, are chartered by government, and have powers, privileges and responsibilities that partnerships and associations don’t have.

      For-profit, limited liability corporations are especially problematic because their purpose is to maximize the wealth of their owners and because, in the absence of legal and democratic controls, there is no limit to how large or abusive they can become.

      Government is necessary and corporations are useful, I don’t deny that. But those in charge need to operate within the framework of law and be accountable for the predictable consequences of their actions.


  2. tiffany267 Says:

    Thanks for sharing your ideas about the LP and GP candidates.

    Politics aside, I have a lot of respect for Gary Johnson for his commitment to fitness and individual physical achievement. Maybe he and Michelle Obama would be a couple of great role models for the country to follow in being healthy! Obama/Johnson 2020?


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