I do not care at all for Gary Johnson. To me, he’s much less a libertarian and more so a moderate—a fiscal conservative and social liberal. While that somewhat resembles libertarianism, that is not what it actually is. And while he calls himself one, I’m not so sure Johnson understands much of the philosophy. Heck, he said that the Non-Aggression Principle goes over his head.
Now maybe he does understand all of this and is just putting on an act so he doesn’t appear to be a dogmatic libertarian that could turn people off to the message of libertarianism. While I do not believe this is the case, even if it were, I am not a fan of this approach. If we believe that our message is the message of truth, we should not be afraid to stick to our principles. This doesn’t mean we should not frame our arguments to make them digestible to whomever you’re speaking, but we certainly should never abandon principles to fit in.
With the main choices this election being Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I wish that main third party option, the Libertarian Party, could have picked a stronger candidate. For better or for worse, Gary Johnson will represent libertarianism to a lot of people new to the movement. And that’s a shame because I think that will cause a lot of people to get the wrong impression of what libertarianism actually is.
But as much as I want to rip on Johnson, I’m pretty quiet about him. Sure, in my libertarian circles, I’m happy to throw in my two cents, but for people outside of those, I tend to keep my mouth shut about him. I’ve been seeing quite a few people on my Facebook feed, for example, who are posting about Gary Johnson and putting their support behind him. It sometimes takes a lot for me to not add my thoughts on him, because in my head I’m thinking, “Don’t refer to him as a libertarian, because he’s not a libertarian!”
Instead, I stay quiet. No matter my intention, I don’t think that anything I could say would be constructive. I would just come across as a jerk to most people and could put a sour taste in their mouths for libertarianism for them. I don’t want to do anything to cause them to be pushed away from looking outside of the two party dichotomy (hopefully it is the first step that leads them to eventually question why we need politicians at all).
So for those of you who view Gary Johnson in a similar way I do, pick your battles wisely. If you’re patient with people newly introduced to libertarianism, you might have some malleable minds in the not so different future if you allow them to be introduced at their own pace. And remember, as poor of a libertarian as he is, keep it in the back of your head that he would be a much better than either of the other two options. And that’s…something.