I’ve made no secret of the fact that I strongly dislike Gary Johnson and strongly disapprove of the “Libertarian” Party’s choice to nominate him (again) for President, just as I strongly disapprove of the direction that the libertarian party has taken in recent years. It is increasingly the party of classical liberals and liberty-leaning Republicans, and I know a lot of “libertarians” who support Rand Paul and wanted him to be Gary Johnson’s Vice President.
I mean… What do you even say? What do you even say to people who claim to be libertarians without knowing the first thing about libertarianism?
Libertarianism: What is it?
Libertarianism is the political ideology that liberty is the best method of solving almost all problems, and that force, violence, and coercion are only acceptable to defend liberty and as a response to force, violence, and coercion. Force, violence, and coercion are the only way that rights can be violated; in fact, force, violence, and coercion instantly and by definition violate the rights of the person who is a victim of force, violence, and coercion. Libertarianism is the ideology that the state should exist only to protect liberty, and should only use force, violence, and coercion to protect liberty. I go one step further and am an anarchist, because I don’t believe that the state can protect liberty, and I hold that its very existence is counter to liberty. Anarchism aside, there is no ambiguity in this platform, and a libertarian’s position on any given matter should be easy to guess.
Does the issue utilize force, violence, and/or coercion?
If yes, then the libertarian rejects it. If no, then the libertarian doesn’t give a shit about it.
It’s really that simple.
There’s no room for disagreement on this matter or that issue, because force, violence, and coercion (collectively: aggression) can always be demonstrated, and must always be rejected. In fact, to even join the Libertarian Party, one is required to sign what is basically the Non-Aggression Pact:
I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.
Recent years have seen an influx of disaffected Republicans and liberty-leaning conservatives who do not understand that the Libertarian Party is built from principles, not ideas, and there is a difference. The Republican Party is a party of ideas, a party where issues and solutions can be discussed, suggested, picked apart, accepted, and rejected. The Democrat Party is a party of ideas, where issues and solutions can be discussed, suggested, picked apart, accepted, and rejected. But the Libertarian Party is a party of principles, and those principles are set in stone. They are not up for discussion, and they cannot be put up for discussion without violating the very core of the libertarian party: that force, violence, and coercion are not acceptable.
Take the question of marijuana, for example. Should it be illegal, should it be legal? Some people within the Libertarian Party would discuss this and have a debate about it, and that’s nonsense, because the question has already failed at the first hurdle. Does possession or usage of marijuana entail force, violence, and coercion? No. Everything else is completely irrelevant, and the government has no right to weigh in on the subject. Prostitution is another area that “libertarians” are debating. Should it be legal? Should it be illegal? Should it be legal, but regulated? Again, this is a discussion that is not warranted under libertarian principles, as prostitution (when taken out of the black market, obviously) does not involve force, violence, or coercion, and the state therefore has no right to weigh in on it.
Gary Johnson is against the notion of religious freedom and wholly rejects the idea that businesses should be allowed to discriminate on religious grounds. Gary Johnson fails to realize that saying “I don’t want to do business with you or people like you” in no way, shape, or form involves aggression, and thus the government has no right to weigh in on the matter. This is just one of many areas where Gary Johnson abides libertarian principles until they’re no longer convenient and easy, at which point he rejects them in favor of his own ideas. Because he thinks discrimination is really, really, really wrong, he is okay with the government legislating against it, even though it involves no violation of anyone’s rights, and thus he has his own morality that guides him in deciding when to apply libertarian principles and when not to.
In effect, Gary Johnson wants to legislate his morality. Unless he doesn’t care about the behavior, in which case, “No, he’s a libertarian.” But if he dislikes the behavior, then he’s every bit as authoritarian as the people who banned sodomy.
Johnson’s pledge would be:
I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals… as long as the goal isn’t “to end discrimination.”
I have to blame Ron Paul for all the “new” libertarians who don’t know the first thing about libertarianism, though that isn’t Ron Paul’s fault. These people were brought into the folds of liberty by Ron Paul (as was I), but they stopped with Ron Paul and assumed that he was Mr. Libertarian. They may not have ever even read any of Ron’s books. They certainly never read Mises, Rothbard, Nock, or Hayek. Their understanding of libertarianism comes from Ron Paul, and so that’s what they think a libertarian is.
Ron himself would tell you that he’s a classical liberal, though, and he explicitly wrote that in Liberty Defined. There’s a reason that Ron Paul only ran for President as a Libertarian once, and that was nearly three decades ago. I’m not knocking the guy–no one loves Ron Paul as much as I do. He was the guy who introduced me to liberty, after all. I’d also vote for Ron Paul in a heartbeat, even though I disagree with him on a few things just as much as I agree with Johnson. There are more areas where I disagree with Johnson, and…
That should be a pretty big indicator of how bad Gary Johnson is. Republican Ron Paul is more libertarian than the current Libertarian Party Presidential candidate. Worse still, Gary Johnson is only marginally more of a libertarian than Rand Paul. Rand Paul. The guy who slightly leans toward liberty but is otherwise a Republican to the core. Does anyone out there really think that Rand Paul is a libertarian? Does anyone out there who knows what libertarianism is really think that Rand Paul is a libertarian?
I just answered my own question, didn’t I?
The more people understand liberty and libertarianism, the more glaringly obvious it is that neither Rand Paul nor Gary Johnson deserve the label. Ron Paul deserves the label far more than either of these two, and Ron Paul refused to accept the label. Granted, he has become more libertarian since his retirement, and he has always been a champion of liberty and libertarianism. The same cannot be said of Johnson and Rand.
But Johnson is Bringing In New People!
Yeah, and I addressed that in my podcast.
The problem is that these “new people” brought in by Johnson who think that libertarian means “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” not only outnumber us (obviously) but also pick the presidential nominee. Do you see the problem? Johnson brings in people like him who have no idea what a libertarian even is, and they nominate more people like Johnson. When people like me point out that there’s nothing libertarian about any of these people, we’re told to shut up, that we don’t know what we’re talking about, that we just don’t want the party to be successful, that we need to fall in line, and that they are what a “true libertarian” looks like, while we’re just spiteful.
Johnson literally stole the Libertarian Party right out from under us, and these endorsements he is getting by big-name Republicans is not going to help matters, and neither is the influx of more disaffected Republicans who hate Donald Trump. I think it’s great that the party is growing. But as it grows, the education must also grow, or the LP will just become the GOP. It’s already happening, after all. Look at our presidential nominee and the endorsements he is getting. With libertarian principles slain on the altar of mass appeal, what, exactly, distinguishes the Libertarian Party from a party of unhappy liberty-leaning Republicans?
These people must be made to understand that they have no idea what they’re talking about, and that Gary Johnson is not Mr. Libertarian. They don’t have time to read Anatomy of the State, End the Fed, Human Action, The Road to Serfdom, On Intellectual Property, and whatever else? Fine. That means it’s our job to educate them. And I don’t think any of us mind that.
The problem is that they aren’t willing to listen, because they think they know what libertarian means, and it means “fiscally conservative, socially liberal.” They think it means “Basically like Ron Paul” and “Basically like Gary Johnson” and our bemused head-shaking does nothing to reach them.
So what, in a sentence, is my issue with Gary Johnson?
Gary Johnson has made me a heretic to my own party.
And let’s not even get into the fact that he claims to be a champion of the Fourth Amendment, and wants to let in Syrian refugees–except that he wants to spy on them and monitor them based on their religious beliefs and their nation of origin, even though he has no probable cause or justification or warrant! How can this guy claim to be a defender of the Fourth Amendment?
“I defend the Fourth Amendment sometimes,” is what you mean to say, Johnson. “As long as you’re not a Muslim from Syria.”
That’s the exact mentality that gave us the Patriot Act! And you dare claim to be a libertarian? This is exactly the sort of “I’m a libertarian… unless I’m not” crap that Johnson is notorious for. One either supports the Fourth Amendment or one doesn’t. Gary Johnson wants to have it both ways. Either people have the right to privacy without being spied upon by the government until they’ve demonstrated probable cause and the state has gotten a warrant, or people don’t have that right. Gary Johnson, however, would say “People have that right, unless I think they shouldn’t.” That is not a libertarian position. And, again, by what hidden criteria does he use to determine when people should be protected by the Bill of Rights and when they shouldn’t be?
That is how badly statism has conquered the world. Even the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate uses a non-principled metric to determine who gets rights and who doesn’t.
Libertarians, I implore you: kick Gary Johnson and his ilk from the party. If he was willing to learn, that would be one thing. But he has demonstrated that he is not. He has had this glaring contradiction (“I believe in the Fourth Amendment, unless you’re a Muslim refugee from Syria”) brought to his attention, and he waves it away. He knows that he is not following libertarian principles. Why are we still discussing this “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” clown? Kick him from the party and nominate an actual libertarian. Kick Austin Petersen while you’re at it, because he openly says that the Non-Aggression Pact is stupid. That’s the VERY BASIS of the party!
What is going on? Kick these people out until they’re willing to follow the principles. The GOP and Democratic Party are what happens when you let people in who don’t give a duck-squatting shit about the principles.