Monday, November 5, 2012

Energion Political Roundtable Closing Statement: Gary Johnson for President

As I mentioned in my previous post I am going to the polls tomorrow and casting my first vote for a non-Republican in my lifetime as a voter. My vote tomorrow will go to Libertarian Gary Johnson for President and Judge Jim Gray for Vice-President. As our closing post before election day, Henry at Energion has asked us to make our case for who we are voting for and why targeted at the mythical undecided voter that is open to be swayed so here it goes!

My choice to vote for Gary Johnson, a Libertarian who has no chance of winning, is bewildering to most of my circle of friends. I doubt many of them will be persuaded by any my arguments as some of his positions are outside of the scope of “conservatism” and most Republicans have bought into the “any vote other than one for Romney is a vote for Obama” malarkey. The "wasted vote" line that keeps being trotted out is best countered by something Gary Johnson has often said: a vote for liberty is never a wasted vote.

Certainly Gary Johnson is far more “liberal” on social issues than I am or the conservative electorate in general. On a few issues especially his positions are kind of jarring, from decriminalizing marijuana to “gay marriage”. When you look at them from a broader perspective they make a lot more sense and especially when you look at them in the framework of a true Constitutional limited Federal government.

I have given up on the culture wars that have consumed the Republican party and the "church" in America for the last few decades. While useful for getting evangelical voters to the polls and electing Republicans it has done little to stem the tide and done far less to advance and indeed done great harm to the mission of the church. Unbelievers by and large see the church as a political beast that is always hungry for money and obsessed with telling other people how to live. Sad as it may be to say, they are right. Rather than being a beacon to the vast majority of Americans by living in a different way from the world, we try to force unregenerate people to live in a way that we ourselves by and large fail to do.

“Gay marriage” is a prime example of an issue that I used to get incensed about but now see as an issue that we need to move beyond. A homosexual couple that wants to throw a “wedding” and declare themselves married is about as legitimate as a homeless man declaring that he is Napoleon but the issue for conservatives shouldn’t be which types of relationships get the government goodies in the massive generational redistribution schemes known as Social Security and Medicare but rather the very existence of these programs at all. I don’t want to preserve Social Security as the sole benefit of married heterosexual couples, I want to eliminate the current unconstitutional system completely!

As far as the other issues like decriminalization of marijuana, whatever your personal opinion of it there is no defensible reason for it to be a Federal issue. If a state chooses to make marijuana illegal that is acceptable but the Federal drug war has done little to stem the use of drugs, enriched drug dealers, filled our prison with petty criminals and overstepped the bounds of the Constitutional mandate of the Federal government.

The issue of abortion is the one issue that troubles me the most about Johnson. If I honestly thought that Romney was sincere about his sudden conversion to a pro-life (at least so far as unborn children in America go) position I would be more likely to vote for him but at best he is a wishy washy man of weak convictions and at worst and more likely he is a political opportunist who parrots the words we want to hear to get our votes. I am actually far more trusting of Johnson to nominate strict Constitutionalist judges than Romney even though Gary Johnson is clearly not going to have that opportunity in the next four years. The naïveté of many conservatives who think that Mitt Romney of all people, a human weather-vane, is going to champion the end of abortion in America would be hilarious if the issue were not so serious. Perhaps we will stop subsidizing Planned Parenthood, a worthy goal. Perhaps we will cut off funds to international groups that support abortion, another worth goal. None of that will do a thing to end abortion. After four years of a Romney presidency abortions will still be performed in America and many church going people will still do nothing to minister where it matters, preferring instead of put a political yard sign out front.

When it comes to fiscal issues, Johnson is the only major candidate that talks honestly about the financial and fiscal crisis we are in. Obama promises to double down on job killing regulations and taxes. Romney talks about being responsible but at the same time promises massive increases in our already ridiculous military budget. We are way beyond the point where Republican incrementalism or Democratic expansionism will work. Neither of the two major parties will have a serious conversation about the debt and the size of the government because they both depend on government to keep them in power. Big government spending by a Republican is not much of an improvement over big government spending by a Democrat.

Perhaps Johnson’s greatest sin in the eyes of “conservatives” is his advocacy for a smaller military and a less interventionist foreign policy. It is this issue that kept Ron Paul from ever gaining widespread traction among Republicans. It is an article of faith among Republicans that we need to “support the troops” by spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year to base them where they are not needed, deploy them where they are not wanted and equip them in ways that make little sense. Any suggestion of shrinking the size of our military is met with shrieks of hysteria about “gutting the military”, a military that nearly outspends the rest of the world combined. Similarly suggesting that we ought not interfere in every foreign conflict is met with cries of “isolationism” and dire references to World War II (a war ironically brought on in large measure by our intervention in World War I). Rather than negatives I see Johnson’s stance as an incredible positive. It is disingenuous to rail against the Federal government when it appears as a Federal bureaucrat but cheer that same government when it wears a military uniform. We spend too much on the military, we interfere too much in the affairs of other nations where we are not wanted and we bury too many of our young men and women. It must stop and it must stop right now.

In short this is not a vote as much for 2012 as it is for the future, a future where the statist two party stranglehold is broken. My hope is that a strong showing by Johnson will wake up the Republican party and force the GOP to take seriously issues of liberty, of militarism and of the folly of incrementalism. If Mitt Romney loses tomorrow in part because of votes for Gary Johnson so be it. I don't say that lightly because the last four years have been a disasters but if that happens I anticipate four more years of gridlock in D.C, better than letting Obama run amok but not what we need. If Romney wins tomorrow I expect four more years of similar gridlock and a few minor changes while the status quo remains in control and the country continues to careen over a cliff, perhaps more slowly but just as surely. Also not what we need. In some ways I think a Romney loss coupled with a Republican majority in the House and an increased Republican presence in the Senate, if not an outright takeover, would be better for the long term and set the stage for an actual conservative to run in 2016.

Those who vote tomorrow based on fear for either Romney or Obama will get what they asked for, more statist control, more government, more debt, more of the same. The only way to make a lasting change is to start changing direction radically right now and for me and many others that starts with a vote for Gary Johnson tomorrow.
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