Yesterday I vouched for Gary Johnson’s character as a presidential candidate after having spent a fair amount of time with him this past weekend at the Libertarian Party of Ohio Convention. If you haven’t read the piece, please check it out—I believe Johnson blows Obama, Romney (D-Mass.)*, and Santorum away when it comes to character.
Today I want to specifically distinguish Johnson from Mitt Romney (D-Mass.) when it comes to a) how he plans to deal with Congress, and b) the strength of placing principle before the false notion of “political pragmatism.” (The first also applies to “team player” Slick Rick Santorum.)
How to Deal with Congress
I recorded the following video during Sunday’s POTUS debate at the Ohio Convention, and I will let the Governor explain how a good chief executive deals with a legislative body:
I happen to have Johnson’s debate notes, jotted on Hotel stationary. The final line says “I’m not going to get along.” And he’s absolutely right. Principle must prevail, and there are ways that a leader can move the ball forward. Listen to him speak about how to balance the budget (as well as the similarity between the GOP and the Democratic Party).
You cannot improve our nation’s future by “working with” the rascals who have created the mess. Our next president must show principled leadership and lead them to responsible governance when he can, and stop them when he must. Johnson did it at the state level, and he will do it on a national level.
By contrast, Romney (D-Mass.) has consistently said that he intends to “work with” Democrats and Congress. That should scare the hell out of any rational American. And this is a rare instance when we can believe him, since it’s what he did as Governor. The result? A mess that his successor, Governor Duval Patrick is still trying to clean up.
Romney (D-Mass.) defends his record by arguing that it was the best he could do with a Democrat-dominated legislature. But, as Governor Johnson pointed out in the first video, Democrats held a 2-to-1 majority in the New Mexico legislature during his two terms (he was term-limited out). That did not stop Johnson from exerting leadership and vetoing hundreds of ill-conceived legislation, including junk bills sponsored by his own Party, such as licensing for dog groomers.
So, if you want a waffler who will “work with” Congress, vote for Romney (D-Mass.). As we drive the nation toward the cliff, perhaps he will slow the speed down to 90 mph from the 120 mph we’re currently traveling. But, in my humble opinion, you have forfeited your right to call yourself a “fiscal conservative” if you vote for this guy when you have a viable alternative. I know I’m going to offend some people with that statement, but sometimes what needs to be said needs to be said.
But, if you would prefer not to drive off the cliff in the first place, Governor Johnson deserves your vote.
Principle Versus the Independent Vote
Moving on to electoral strategy, Governor Johnson once again kicks Romney (D-Mass.)’s backside. The former Governor of the Bay State (who is never referred to as “Governor” due to his pathetic record in office) has fallen for one of the biggest myths in American electoral politics. That is the false notion that a candidate should aim for the much-vaunted “Independent vote” as a primary strategy.
On its surface, this theory would seem to make sense. As Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine noted at the Convention, the number of voters who identify themselves as “Independent” is at record high levels, and the number of self-identified Republicans is declining dramatically. Indeed, Obama won in 2008 by selling his message to Independent voters.
But Americans aren’t fleeing the major Parties because there is an explosion in the number of political moderates. Ultimately, the flawed theory of pursuing the “Independent vote” with a moderate platform as a primary strategy is based on the false equation that Independent = Moderate. No, the equation is Independent = The Big 2 Suck. The political beliefs of these folks are all over the map; the Independent vote is not a monolith. They are seeking conviction and leadership more than a moderate message.
Obama demonstrated how you win the Independent vote in 2008, and it the same strategy that Rush Limbaugh has been advocating for the GOP this year. First, you win your Party’s nomination by energizing your base with a sincere, principled message. Then you sell your message to everyone else. Sure, Obama branded himself as a centrist in the general, but every policy proposal he presented was straight out of the leftist playbook, and the majority of Americans voted for it.
Romney (D-Mass.) and the GOP are playing a losing hand in this, the most winnable of elections, by pouring ice water on the conservative base, and targeting a non-existent moderate Independent monolith as a primary strategy. The only reason Romney (D-Mass.) has a shot at winning in November is because Obama has been a disaster—and the media continues to blackball Governor Johnson. (He missed one Republican debate because he failed to garner 2% support in a poll in which his name was not included!)
Governor Johnson, on the other hand, sticks by his principles and sells his message. First, watch this video and listen to the pride he has for his libertarian beliefs:
Then, listen to the rousing applause he gets during his appearance on the Colbert Report.
Do you think for a moment that Romney (D-Mass.) could ever get that kind of response from Colbert’s audience? Yet there Johnson was, a guy who was a Republican just a few months ago, getting a rousing reception from a presumptively young, liberal audience. His message of freedom is resonating in part because he sticks by it, regardless of the audience. People believe him. And by and large, when people have the chance to hear it, they prefer his libertarian freedom message to the anti-freedom message of American conservatism and liberalism.
Meanwhile, what does Romney (D-Mass.) stand for? No one knows. “I’m not Obama” and “I have private sector experience” are all he has to run on, which probably explains why his campaign has been so negative. (Johnson has superior private experience, by the way, having built a company from a one-man operation to one with over 1000 employees.) Romney (D-Mass.) can’t run his record, or on principle. He has chosen to chase the much-vaunted and improperly conceived “Independent vote” with a muddled moderate message. It will not work in its own right, although it’s possible that Obama will lose the election all by himself.
Meanwhile, Johnson has both principles and a record to run on. If he can get the message out, I believe it’s a winning combination. We’ll see if he can get past the media blockade and have a chance to sell it.
Live Free. Gary Johnson 2012.
* For those unaware, I have taken a pledge to refer to the former Governor of the Bay State in this manner verbally and in writing until he a) concedes, b) loses in November, or, God forbid, c) leaves office. I have said before, and will repeat it here, that I fear 8 years of Romney (D-Mass.) more than 4 more years of Obama. Neither bodes well for our nation.
This article is also published at The Country Thinker.
This quote from Mark Twain is becoming an unoffical slogan for those of us working on Gary Johnson’s campaign:
In times of change, the Patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a Patriot.
End Note 2
The State Convention was co-organized by Jillian Mack, pictured here. As I have posted on Facebook, I am confident she will be elected to Congress, probably in the near future. She is a reformed Democrat, and I mentioning her here to get the “buzz” going for her prospective candidacy. John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi should be afraid, because Jillian will put those rascals in their place. Trust me on that point—I know her.