Wednesday, August 10, 2016
As I put it to a relative who, like me, usually votes Republican, but
can't vote for Trump, there is a nonzero chance
that Libertarian Gary Johnson could end up in the White House. Despite
my opposition both to third
parties as an instrument of political change and to Libertarianism,
I have myself considered voting for Johnson.
I have reservations about doing so because a President Johnson would be no bonanza for those of us who want to make a principled case for individual rights. Just as an example, consider the following, from a recent editorial of Johnson's, regarding what should simply be called "cronyism":
[Clinton] is the very status quo. Americans want that changed. She talks about progressivism, but lines her bank accounts with speaking fees from banks and special interests. That's what crony capitalism is all about. Americans recognize pay-to-play when they see it, and they are really, really weary of it.Where to begin on this one point? There is nothing inherently wrong with someone being paid a speaker's fee. And is "progressivism" a good thing? Why a bank paid such a fee is highly relevant here, and represents an opportunity to really get to the essence of what's wrong with cronyism: It is due to the government improperly regulating the economy. That is not capitalism, and anyone who attaches the name "capitalism" to this is doing the cause of limited government a big disservice. As I have elaborated long ago, a businessman may hire a speaker (or bribe a politician) as a means of protecting oneself from meddling. This is an understandable, but usually mistaken tactic. Or a businessman might, like an Ayn Rand villain, actually be more in favor of the government doling out favors than in competing with others to offer his customers real value. Rather than attacking speaker's fees, we should be asking why so many people think it is right for the government to run everything.
Having been governor of New Mexico, I know that legislation gets passed to benefit those who have money and influence. Then they buy more money and influence. That's one reason why, as governor, I vetoed more than 750 bills and thousands of line items.
I did it to keep crony capitalism away from government.
In terms of short-term damage, a President Johnson does seem likely to be far less harmful than the two major candidates, but Johnson's big downside is how he might set back the long-term fight for freedom, by claiming to espouse clear principles when, in fact, he doesn't.