So we’ve seen a lot of post-election recriminations, mainly different Republicans attacking each other, or attacking Libertarians for daring to exist and for running against them, to explain why they lost. (With Democrats laughing at them from the sidelines.)
Whatever these recriminations are worth, no one from either major party seems to see them in the context of both Obama and Romney each getting both a minority of the vote – Obama 30% of registered voters and Romney 29% of them – and each getting several million fewer voters than their parties did in 2008.
This is not my recriminatory question. Though I do have questions about this: How far will the Democrats and Republicans go to violate the First Amendment to suppress any new parties that appeal to the 40% of voters who left the presidential slot blank or stayed home altogether? What would happen if some day the Republican actually ran and talked again and again about individual rights being the touchstone for a policy of reducing government power? And what would happen if a GOP candidate, of whatever gender, had produced a majority of their campaign ads using the fantastic line up of female talent on display briefly at their convention?
My question is instead for our frequently bilious and often holier than thou cousins, the Objectivists and their acolytes, the students of Objectivism, who mainly liked Gary Johnson when he was a Republican, then decided in some cases to support him even after he became a Libertarian (emphasizing that they were only supporting his candidacy and not the party or any of its other candidates). I am primarily thinking of Dr. Diana Hseih and her website and podcasts. Ultimately Hsieh threw her support to Romney, on the entirely reasonable grounds that Obama should not be allowed to appoint anyone else to the Supreme Court. (I myself didn’t spend any effort arguing that people worried about this should vote for Johnson in swing states, and I was a Johnson Elector in a non swing state. Though I also pointed out to GOPsters attacking Libertarians that they should be trying to set up a vote exchange where they would get two Republicans to vote for Johnson in non swing states in exchange for a Libertarian to vote for Romney in swing states.)
So Objectivists, how did that work out for you?
Hsieh was not alone. Someone who does a not invaluable looking Objectivist blog SelfishCitizenship, rightly took Johnson to task for spending too much time complaining about not being in the debates, and not enough time talking about crucial issues. This blogger doesn’t show any cognizance of how this works, but I am sure Johnson’s real failure was to not take control of the narrative. He was being asked why he wasn’t doing better and how he could win, and complained that the system was set up to exclude him – when he should have rejected the journalist’s question and spoke about issues instead. The blog author (Jim?) argues that if Johnson can’t run a competent campaign how could he be a competent president? Do the Objectivists realize this question applies to the GOP and Romney? Who run people every year and don’t seem to learn? And who don’t run state governments as well as Johnson did.
Here’s Hsieh on Johnson back in 2011:
A few things you need to know up front about Gary Johnson. There is nothing he will not answer, nothing he will not share. For six straight days, we spent virtually every waking hour together, which might have had something to do with the fact that there wasn’t another reporter within ten miles of the guy. Or that when you’re polling in the low digits and your campaign fund is less than Mitt Romney’s breakfast tab and your entourage is Brinck and Matt, you tend to be more forthcoming. But in fact, Johnson is fundamentally incapable of bullshitting, which is one of the many, many things that make him so unusual for a presidential candidate. (When a reporter asks him, after he gushes about how great New Hampshire voters are, if he says the same thing in Michigan, he replies, “No, Michigan’s the worst.”) He finds presidential politicking of the sort we’ve grown accustomed to—slick, scripted, focus-grouped, how-does-the-hair-look—to be “absolutely phony.”
Johnson is not just determined to eliminate the budget deficit by immediately cutting the budget by 43%. He’s also pro-choice, pro-immigration, pro-marijuana-legalization, and more. He’s not as hawkish on foreign policy as I’d like, but he’s opposed to altruistic foreign wars. You canread about his positions here.
In my view, Gary Johnson is a far better candidate than I thought possible from the GOP. And I’ll be damned if I’ll sit on my hands while something that good passes us by — particularly when our alternatives are wild-eyed Jesus freaks, slimy pragmatists, and economy-killers. Hence, I’ve donated a few hundred dollars to his campaign — and I’d urge others to considerdoing the same.
If you’re not able to do that but you like what you see, please pass on the GQ article (or this blog post) to friends and fellow free-market activists.