Sunday, October 28, 2012

I almost voted for Gary Johnson

Back when I was in college, a couple of my hippie friends decided they'd vote in the Republican primary, with the intention of boosting the prospects of the Republican candidate they felt would be least electable in the general election. They pulled the lever for former California governor Ronald Reagan.


In the 2000 election, a number of "progressive" voters (my dear wife among them) turned up their collective noses at Al Gore and voted for Ralph Nader. Enough of them did in Florida to usher in 8 years of George W Bush.


Despite years of voting primarily for Democrats (with a few notable exceptions) I found Gary Johnson, Libertarian presidential candidate intriguing - fiscal conservative, socially progressive, and to all appearances, not a bad sort. I reasoned that since Obama had a snowball's chance in hell of carrying Texas, it didn't really matter if I abandoned him to vote for Johnson.

Besides, I found myself somewhat incensed at several of Obama's policies and wanted to make my displeasure known.

My loyal frenemy, the Whited Sepulchre, has been delighted at the idea that I might actually vote for his man, Gary Johnson. The Whited Sepulchre has played up Johnson's stands on marijuana decriminalization, his pro-choice stance on abortion, and his opposition to the war in Afghanistan - all issues he knows I can be tempted on.

But when it came time at the early voting poll to make my choices, I went with Obama. Even though I know it doesn't make a difference - not here in Texas anyway. At the end of the day, you've got to make best choice you can, and Obama was, in my eyes, clearly the better overall choice.

So why no to Governor Johnson?

For one thing, if - through some miracle - he got elected, he'd find it impossible to govern. He'd have no legislative base to back his policies. Given the toxic atmosphere in Washington do you honestly think Republicans OR Democrats would support any of his initiatives? While some of the more wild-eyed Libertarians would say that's just fine, why vote for Johnson on the basis of his pro-dope platform if it's never going to get through Congress? Say what you will about ObamaCare, at least Obama got it passed.

The other thing? It's Johnson's supporters.

While he may come off as a more or less reasonable person, years of hearing my Libertarian buddies rail about how "taxes are theft," or "an armed society is a polite society," and other crazy talk, has left me less than sanguine about what we can expect. It doesn't help to see how eagerly they cozy up to gun fanatics, Birthers, Climate Change deniers, and other nut jobs.

Which is not to say I didn't vote for plenty of Libertarians this round. Our Texas Republicans did a ham-fisted job of redistricting two years ago, which means in over half the races on my ballot there was no Democrat running against the Republican. In every instance I voted Libertarian. I think I ended up voting for more Libertarians than Democrats.

To be frank, this will help them in the long run a lot more than voting for the top of the ticket. Face it, the Libertarian presidential candidate is a boutique position - and usually filled with very little effort by some failed Republican contender.

You want to have some real impact? Get a few Libertarian congressional seats.

Thank me later for the advice.


TarrantLibertyGuy said...

Here's the thing. 100% of Libertarian Party members know that we have 100% chance of losing. However, if we get a mere 5% of the popular vote we get our share of FEC money ... Tens of millions of dollars. Tdifficult to do, by the way when the parties of the 'top two vote getters' work diligently to keep us out of the public discussion.

The presidential campaign matching funds are voluntarily given and legal to receive - and being utilized against us - so it's a great goal for us.

But if your main concern is supporting war in the Middle East, Banking Industry abuses, making healthcare more unaffordable, taking medical marijuana out of the hands of cancer patients and bailing out multi-billion dollar corporations - your vote certainly wasn't wasted.

I hope this doesn't come off as too snarky or mean spirited so as to not go against your helpful tips from an earlier post.

Dr Ralph said...


You? Snarky? I'd never think such a thing.

Always glad to hear from you and good luck in Colorado.

You raise an interesting point though, about percentages. While I agree with some (but not all) of the Libertarian Party's stand on some issues, it's a lot easier to take bold stands (like marijuana decriminalization) when your target is to get just 5% of the vote.

That being said, even though Obama has not lived up to all my expectations, it comes down to choosing Obama or Romney. Voting for Johnson (which I seriously considered) is an admission that my vote in Texas is irrelevant.

And like I've said several times, you want to make a difference as Libertarians, focus on fielding and running strong, serious candidates for local races, where you *might* win, and might actually make a difference. From what I saw, most of the Texas candidates were enthusiastic amateurs.