Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson Tries His Best
by Ned Sheehan on Friday, October 21st, 2016
In our dark and depraved election cycle of 2016, the field, after several months of Ted Cruz’s serial killer face and the semi-coherent Reddit conspiracy theories of Bernie Sanders backers, was finally whittled down to two candidates. One was a career politician, certainly qualified, inarguably intelligent and knowledgeable, but widely disliked. The other was a grotesque, orange bigot backed by the lovely folks who created #GamerGate and put Pepe, an initially innocuous cartoon frog (whose creator happens to support Clinton), in so many racist/white supremacist memes that he was officially deemed a hate symbol by the SPLC and ADL. So, the people, appalled by their options, yelled up to the heavens, “Please give us another choice, there has to be a better way!” And Gary Johnson looked down and whispered, “What is Aleppo?”
Third Parties don’t emerge very often because they are difficult to start in US politics. In the modern age, there have only been a few major third party candidates – the segregationist Dixiecrat campaigns of Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, the radical centrist (yes, that’s a thing) run of Rep. John B. Anderson in 1980, the quasi-libertarian runs of H. Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996, and the infamous Green campaign of Ralph Nader in 2000.
Representing the Green Party and trying to pander to Bernie fans this year is the truly asinine Dr. Jill Stein, a woman who has pandered to anti-vaxxers and 9/11 truthers, flip-flopped on major geopolitical issues such as Brexit and the Assad regime in the span of 48 hours, implied Wi-Fi causes cancer, and chose a running mate who frequently appears on the radio shows of and is published in the magazines of a Holocaust denier. In short, don’t vote for her.
Although it was clear from the start that Stein was manifestly unqualified, many people thought there would be a solid 3rd party ticket this year when former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld announced that they would run together on the Libertarian Party ticket. This joy began to subside on an MSNBC segment where Johnson, when asked what he would do about Aleppo, a besieged Syrian city, asked “and what is Aleppo?”
More embarrassing moments came in the weeks to come. Johnson said that although global warming was a problem, it was ultimately irrelevant because the sun will eventually consume the earth anyway (this is true, but somewhat absurd, considering that it won’t happen for another 4.5 billion years). He then backtracked and said the solution was space exploration (which is odd, given he wants to cut NASA’s funding by 50%). He was unable to name a single head of state he likes (even Jill Stein was able to name three people, although none of them were actual heads of state), calling it “an Aleppo moment.” Most recently, he seemed to forget who Kim Jong Un is. All of these examples are proof that Johnson is a profoundly unqualified choice, which is deeply disappointing.
2016 has been a bad year for centrists of all stripes. Centrist Republicans watched Ohio Gov. John Kasich get hammered at the hands of bible-bashing extremist Ted Cruz and Spray-Tanned Strom Thurmond himself, Donald J. Trump, just the latest humiliation from a party that has actively worked to drive them out since 1994. Now, most would side with Democrats (both the centrist and left wing party these days), but for some, the Democrats are too big government, and a third option would be much wanted.
This was the year when Libertarians could have become a real contender on every level and transformed into a legitimate political party that could build bridges, heal partisan divide, and work with both parties on necessary reform (Republicans on debt, Democrats on campaign finance reform, etc.). But that won’t happen, because the Libertarians nominated a blithering imbecile who didn’t even deign to skim the CliffsNotes on crucial foreign policy issues. Gary Johnson should be ashamed of himself. He had the chance to build a movement for moderate Republicans alienated by what has become a party of theocrats and authoritarians, and failed due to his own incompetence.
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