How Republican is That?
“I think the Republican National Committee has hung me out to dry,” he said. “I’m angry. Really angry.”
The wildly popular former two-term governor of New Mexico, who lost part of his toe to frostbite climbing Mount Everest on a broken leg, has been excluded from 15 of 17 presidential debates.
The 58 year old who was elected governor in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 has virtually disappeared from major political polling. The governor who got rid of 1,200 state employees, vetoed 750 bills and left New Mexico with a billion-dollar budget surplus is not Republican enough for the GOP….
“The Republican National Committee has turned their backs on a message that appeals more and more to the American public,” he said.
Less government is the best government. He wants to cut federal spending by 43 percent. He advocates throwing out the entire U.S. tax system in favor of a 23-percent fair tax on consumption that he says would create thousands of jobs overnight. He wants to abolish the Department of Education and the IRS, and he promises to submit a balanced budget in 2013.
Maybe those are ideas many Republicans can swallow. But his stance on social issues, Johnson knows, rub many the wrong way.
He thinks building a fence between the United States and Mexico is an awful idea; better to have a smooth and easy work-visa program. He supports gay marriage. He is fully in favor of a woman’s right to choose. He wants to legalize marijuana (and yes, he has smoked pot for pleasure and for medical purposes, but quit several years ago) and decriminalize drug use.
GQ recently argued that Johnson might just be the sanest man running for president.
“He believes that government should just leave us alone,” said Adrian Wyllie, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida, which hosted a talk and meet-and-greet with Johnson here on Monday.
I shouldn’t have to spell this out. But the problem is not that Gary Johnson isn’t Republican “enough.” The problem is that Gary Johnson isn’t Republican. The Republican Party hasn’t been like him for a good ten years and three months. It might not ever be again. The reason is simple: The Republican Party is the party of war, war powers, and war spending — and that means it’s the party of big government. Or one of them, anyway.
I know, I know, there are all kinds of No True Scotsman problems around here. But I’m going to throw it out just the same: Neither the Republican base nor the Republican elites have any remaining political semblance to the likes of Gary Johnson. It’s silly to pretend that they do. When Republicans last wielded the highest office in the land — or whatever the verb is you do to offices, spare me — they were so bad they left a lot of folks wondering whether libertarians should go ahead and vote Democrat.
Yes, they really were that bad.
Now, out of the White House, they’ve had a chance to redeem themselves by at least going through the motions of including Gary Johnson, and by treating Ron Paul as the first-tier candidate he very clearly is. But they’re not doing it. Quite the opposite, in fact.
And why? Because, win or lose, Republicans overwhelmingly don’t want a more libertarian public policy. They want power, exercised by powerful people, who also just happen to be themselves. And that’s not something Gary Johnson promises.