In the 80’s and early 90’s I watched more TV and movies than reading positive books. The effect of all that programming is that I still use analogies from these movies. Unfortunately, there’s only a minority of people that get my references. Hence, the background for the title of this article.
It struck me the other day that Gary Johnson reminded me of the Bill & Ted movies from the late 80’s-early 90’s. The first movie was Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and the second was Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. A quick synopsis of the movie is that Bill & Ted have a band called the Wyld Stallyns. The band’s music and message will bring peace to Earth and goodwill towards men in the distant future. Bill, Ted, and the Wyld Stallyns are so revered that statues are erected and school children learn about them. The problem in the present is that Bill & Ted can’t even play instruments, but instead play air guitar. At the end of the Bogus Journey movie, Bill & Ted travel to the future to learn to play guitar. They then return to the present day to play their music and of course defeat the bad guys.
How does this relate to Gary Johnson, the probable presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party, you ask? Just like Bill & Ted telling everyone they’re in a band while they can’t even play instruments, Gary Johnson is telling everyone he is a libertarian but then defining libertarianism as “fiscally conservative, socially liberal.” He makes it sound like being a libertarian is a combination of the Democratic and Republican parties. That’s like playing air guitar without background music, probably worse.
But as Scott Lazarowitz said in a recent article
“Fiscal conservative/social liberal” means “Let’s make the existing intrusive governmental apparatus more efficient (which is close to impossible), and let’s expand private property-destroying, freedom of association-destroying Civil Rights laws even further.”
Libertarianism, on the other hand, includes the non-aggression principle, self-ownership and self-determination and the right to self-defense, private property rights, voluntary association and freedom of non-association, free markets and voluntary exchange. You know, “Live and let live.”
So libertarianism is about liberty, liberating the people from government’s intrusions, its coercion, threats and criminal violence…This is why true libertarians would want to liberate the people from the State’s criminality, not make reforms to the criminal State or merely rearrange the deck chairs on an inherently flawed centralized bureaucracy.”
There’s some that argue that Johnson’s “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” definition is an easy way to explain the freedom message to the masses. I disagree. The left will be turned off by the fiscally conservative message because while they believe the government has no business in our personal lives, government surely has a responsibility to run our economic lives to make things fair. On the other hand, socially liberal has a connotation that in order to be a libertarian you cannot be a social conservative. Gary Johnson actually said you cannot be a social conservative and be a libertarian! I think the correct message is that we have no right to use the force of government against economic and social choices as long as those choices do not harm anyone. Then give some examples good intentions gone wrong by using the force of government.
There’s other issues with Johnson as well: Pro-gay marriage instead of government should not be involved in marriage, forcing business owners whom they do business with (doesn’t understand property rights), wants to reduce the military budget but still believes we should intervene abroad, wants offer award using federal money (our money stolen from us through taxation) for the cure to cancer, and I’m sure there’s more.
I think Johnson joined the Libertarian Party because things like the party’s stance on discrimination of marijuana. I haven’t heard him promote core principles like the non-aggression principle or evils of a centralized government. I don’t think he’s an actual libertarian.
Will I vote for him if he is the nominee? Of course. I don’t believe in the stance that some libertarians take: That is complain, wake people up and then don’t vote. Why bother waking people up if your ultimate plan of action is to do nothing? Gary Johnson has done some good like suing to include other parties in the presidential debates, and I believe he will be for smaller government and some freedom issues. Voting for Johnson will be voting against the two-party system more than actually voting for Gary Johnson…Unless of course, he can travel through time like Bill & Ted, do some intense training with Murray Rothbard, Ludwig Von Mises and Ron Paul, and then return to the present as real libertarian.
***Update May 31, 2016. Gary Johnson won the nomination. I watch debate clips of him over Memorial Day Weekend. The more I heard him speak, the more I realized he is not a libertarian. Also, I reflected on this article as I watched the clips, and realized Johnson had four years to grow as a libertarian, and he did not. I don’t think even Bill and Ted’s time machine can help Gary Johnson. (I still like the title and picture so I’ll keep the article posted.)