by Garret Ean
Sept 3 2011
Two term New Mexico governor Gary Johnson is a candidate for president who’s facing a corporate media blackout. He’s been excluded from all but one nationally televised debate, despite polling better than some candidates who are considered mainstream. The likely reason is because he represents a very different sort of republican candidate.
Gary Johnson is most noted for his willingness to talk about the harms caused by prohibition policy, which to many is still considered a taboo subject. In the GOP presidential race, Ron Paul is the only other candidate willing to talk about prohibition, and even he has been smeared for taking a stance against such policy. Some have equated Johnson’s current media blackout predicament with Paul’s situation four years ago, where he faced hurdles in entering debates. Fortunate for Paul, his absence from media coverage has been addressed in some high profile ways (such as Jon Stewart referring to Ron Paul as a 13th floor).
Of the many presidential candidates I’ve met over the years, both republican and democrat, Johnson is easily one of the most accessible and down to Earth. His openness is complimented by his divergence with many mainstream republicans on a host of issues. Being the governor of a border state, Johnson acknowledges that illegal immigration is a problem — not because people coming to the United States to work is a bad thing, but because of how bureaucratic the immigration process is, which makes it virtually impossible for the impoverished to obtain legal work and creates the black market that lawmakers like to pretend does not exist. Johnson also opposes the military industrial complex, which has in recent decades unfortunately become a staple of the republican party through neoconservative ideology. As the Obama administration has demonstrated that military interventionism is not solely a republican interest, we’re left with a field of mainstream candidates who all openly support status-quo Washington military domination.
Ron Paul vs. Gary Johnson
A simple way of stating the difference between Paul and Johnson is that Paul appeals more to a socially conservative libertarian audience, whereas Johnson has more independent libertarian appeal. This is not to say Paul is too similar to those traditionally given the socially conservative label, such as Michele Bachmann. While Ron Paul personally opposes abortion, his position is not that the federal government should prohibit the practice, but rather that states should be able to make their own decisions on the matter. This federalist approach also applies to his position on prohibition policy. Paul supports allowing states to have any level of prohibition that they so choose, and acknowledges that the federal government is not even constitutionally authorized to make such policy. Since the Wickard v. Filburn case in 1942, the federal government was given de-facto ruling power over the states, with the supreme court at the time alleging that anything the federal government wants to control can be covered under the interstate commerce clause, whether or not the law in question even applies to commerce crossing state lines. This point is even acknowledged in the infamous anti-cannabis propaganda film Reefer Madness, during a scene in which a proponent for cannabis restriction states that it is unfortunate that the federal government has no authority to ban the plant. To get around this, prohibitionist Henry Anslinger drafted the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which banned cannabis by forcing those in possession of cannabis to receive a tax stamp which the federal government simply refused to issue.
Not having lobbied for any state level changes to drug or abortion laws, Paul gets less flack than Johnson, who as the executive of New Mexico, openly supported cannabis legalization. Applying his opposition to the state level, where the rubber meets the road, led to law enforcement groups denouncing Johnson. Johnson also could be considered more socially liberal in that he does not oppose early term abortions.
The Concord Monitor ran a story yesterday covering two of Johnson’s visits in Concord, featuring a photo of myself interviewing him at NHTI on the front page. The Monitor’s story focuses one how Johnson’s opposition to the drug war has given him an outsider status, but also highlights other issues central to his campaign, such as cutting government spending. Spending cuts are a popular issue among all republican candidates, but with many continuing to support the military industrial complex, its unclear where they would apply the cuts that they wish to make. Many supporters of military buildup believe it to be an actual net gain for the economy, which is a great example of the classical liberal French economist Frederic Bastiat’s broken window fallacy.
Here’s my interview with Gary Johnson at Castro’s and NHTI, with the Monitor coverage posted below (click to enlarge). My questions focus on issues which get less attention in the mainstream media, including children’s right to sell lemonade, Wikileaks’ revelations about US war activities, and the right to record police.