Fighting Against the One-Party System: Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party

Arthur Augustyn, Feature Editor

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Ron Paul recently said in an interview with CNBC that America doesn’t need a third party, it needs a second party.

“There is essentially no difference from one administration to another no matter what the platforms are,” said Ron Paul on CNBC’s Futures Now segment.

Ron Paul is a registered Republican but has gained the reputation of being very critical of his party. In the Republican debates last year, Paul argued that he was the only conservative candidate on the stage since many of the other Republicans running for the presidential nomination were in favor of costly government endeavors such as the war in Afghanistan.

The Libertarian party has been viewed as a response to these criticisms. Although the official party was formed 40 years ago in 1971, it has gained rapid membership and media attention in the past few years.

The viewpoints of the party are best understood in contrast to Republicans and Democrats. There are generally two overarching categories for each party: fiscal and social issues and each party is either conservative or liberal. Republicans are fiscally and socially conservative. Democrats are fiscally and socially liberal. Libertarians are fiscally conservative but socially liberal. In general they believe the best government is a small government.

This means that Libertarians want to scale back all government involvement in American life. Social issues Libertarians support include: legalizing marijuana, legalizing prostitution, legalizing gambling and removing restrictions on homosexuality and gay marriage. Fiscal issues Libertarians support include: fair tax (removing all taxes except for a baseline consumption tax on retail goods), eliminating the IRS and removing government intervention in the economy such as minimum wage laws or the bailouts on the auto and bank industries.

For the election this year, the Libertarian party has nominated Gary Johnson, an outspoken Governor of New Mexico who switched his affiliation from Republican to Libertarian in 2011. For a long time, Ron Paul was the most popular voice on Libertarian issues but Johnson’s campaign has quickly launched him into the political spotlight. Johnson shares many of the same criticisms of the current presidential nominees.

On Sept. 11 Johnson held an “Ask Me Anything” session on the social news website Reddit.com. In the discussion he shared many of his political viewpoints and his concerns with Romney and Obama.

“Either one of them is going to result in an increased police state, continued state of war, and continued unsustainable debt and spending,” said Johnson on Reddit.

Johnson has released various video advertisements on YouTube that are highly critical of the political contradictions in the current administrations.

In one video promoting the legalization of marijuana, Johnson mentions that President Obama himself has admitted to smoking marijuana. Johnson attacked the President for denying that right to all citizens even though he himself has participated in an illegal activity without ramifications.

Libertarians differ the most from Republicans and Democrats on the issue of foreign policy. Whereas Republicans and Democrats pick and choose various conflicts and wars they support, Libertarians are strictly anti-interventionists. This political viewpoint was very prevalent in America during the early twentieth century but has been mostly forgotten about since the country emerged as a global world power. Johnson has voiced what he would do with the war in Afghanistan if he were elected president.

“Withdraw immediately. Bring the troops home,” said Johnson on Reddit. Johnson has also explained that he would remove America’s presence in northern African countries such as Egypt and Libya. He would also scale back the number military bases around the world. Today these viewpoints are considered radical, but it wasn’t that long ago where the assumption was America would not be involved in other countries affairs.

Although the Libertarian party and Johnson specifically have gained a significant amount of internet attention, their pursuits have been ignored by most media outlets. Johnson, along with other third party candidates, has also been denied the opportunity to speak at the Presidential debates.

Many political observers compare Johnson to Ralph Nader, the green party’s candidate for the presidential elections of 2000, 2004 and 2008.  Nader never came close to winning a single state, but arguably pulled votes from the Republican and Democrat nominees. Nader has been cited as the reason Al Gore lost the 2000 election in Florida, although Nader denies this claim.

Johnson has the ability to pull votes from both Mitt Romney and President Obama. Some political commentators say that voting for Johnson or any third party is wasting a vote on a candidate who clearly will not win, Johnson disagrees.

“A wasted vote, is voting for someone that you don’t believe in,” said Johnson on Reddit, “if Obama or Romney are spoiled, they have themselves to blame.”

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