Vote for Johnson. Here’s a discussion of Gary Johnson in Reason magazine:
When he ran for governor as a Republican in heavily Democratic New Mexico. He had no prior political experience. He won by a 10-point margin. (By poetic coincidence, he beat a competitor for the GOP nomination named Dick Cheney.) Johnson spent his first term slashing taxes and reining in the growth of the state budget. Then he won a second term, and spent that crusading for school vouchers and marijuana legalization. He set a record for vetoing bills—750 of them, more than all other 49 governors combined during the same period—and left a budget surplus in his wake.
Last year Johnson ran for the Republican nomination for president. For reasons known only to the organizers, he was shut out of three early debates, which effectively killed whatever chance he had of gaining traction in the primaries. But those chances were slim to begin with, given his views on issues such as abortion (he believes “fundamentally in the right…to choose”), gay marriage (“equal acess to marriage for all Americans is a right,” he says, blasting President Obama for giving the matter only “lip service”) and national defense (he would cut the Pentagon 43 percent, just like every other department—except Education, which he would abolish).
Equally problematic in the GOP these days, he also believes in evolution. To make matters worse, “I believe in global warming and that it’s man-made.” And even though he does not use tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine, he did use marijuana for three years to ease the pain from his paragliding accident.
On the other hand, he is not likely to win over many Democrats with his views on gun control (“I don’t believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None”), taxes (he cut them 14 times as governor), or Obamacare (he has said it is unconstitutional).
Given those positions, he’s a natural fit for the Libertarian Party—whose presidential nomination he won earlier this month. As ABC News put it, Johnson “intends to hit Obama from the left and Romney from the right. ‘I got a leg up on Obama when it comes to civil liberties,’ Johnson said. “I crush Obama when it comes to dollars and cents. I think I have a leg up on Romney when it comes to dollars and cents and I think I crush him on civil liberties.’ ” He would repeal the Patriot Act and says habeas corpus should be “respected entirely.”
Johnson has another political Achilles’ heel: He is unflinchingly honest. “Always be honest and tell the truth” is one of his Seven Principles of Good Government. A profile in GQ last year put it more bluntly: “There is nothing he will not answer, nothing he will not share. . . . Johnson is fundamentally incapable of bull****ing.” Example: When Mitt Romney made a swing through Michigan, he gushed oleaginously about how “I love this state. It seems right here. The trees are the right height. I like seeing the lakes. I love the lakes. . . .” By contrast, when a reporter asked Johnson if he would say the same nice things about Michigan that he had said about New Hampshire, he answered: “No, Michigan’s the worst.”
In any case, Johnson’s not going to win. And remember, you are probably thinking that I’m “wasting my vote.” But the fact that Johnson won’t win is exactly why you should vote for him. By the time the libertarians get close to power they’ll get much more moderate, just as the German Green Party moderated as it got closer to power. They’ll start listening to market monetarists on monetary policy.
If I lived in Ohio and God told me I’d have the deciding vote between the top two candidates in this election, I’d vote for Johnson. The whole point is to sway policy, and you don’t do that by winning elections, you do that by getting votes. If the libertarians ever start stealing 5% or 10% of the votes from one of the two major parties (or both) you can be sure that next time they’ll shift their position closer to the libertarian direction. Obama will think twice about sending in the Feds to shutdown those medical marijuana clinics in LA.
My second choice? I don’t have one, mostly because I have no idea what Romney would do if elected.
The average apolitical blue collar guy you meet in a bar will tell you there’s not much difference between the two parties. Well-informed intellectuals roll their eyes at this know-nothing attitude, pointing out that the Dems favor big government and the GOP favors a radical reduction in the size of government, at least that’s been their position since the Reagan era. But the facts actually support the drunk in the bar, there’s no evidence that I know of that the Dems spend more than the GOP. Rather the Dems spend money on their interest groups (the poor, the teachers, the environmentalists, the government workers, etc) and the GOP spends it on their interest groups (the military, the elderly, the space program, the farmers, etc.) Nixon was a much bigger spender than Carter, and Bush II was a much bigger spender than Clinton. More sophisticated empirical analyses show basically no overall difference between the parties. But the facts don’t matter to those sophisticated intellectuals, they just know the GOP favors small government and the Dems favor big government.
In any case, why should my endorsement matter? I trust the voters much more than I trust any expert, including myself. Remember the “wisdom of the crowds?” If you want good political advice ask someone with better judgment than me; someone like Matt Yglesias or Tyler Cowen. Indeed even those teenage bloggers Soltas and Wang probably have better political judgment than I do. Monetary policy is my comparative advantage. Beyond that I’m just a drunk in a bar.
PS. Each party won 50% of the presidential elections in the 20th century, and each party will win 50% of the presidential elections in the 21st century. That’s how our system works. No point in sweating over which party wins this election or that one. Keep your eye on the ball–the fight over policy is what matters. You win by setting the agenda, by being a Roosevelt or a Thatcher. The rest is just noise.
PPS. I do have some Senate race endorsements:
—Massachusetts: Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren has the edge against Republican Sen. Scott Brown in one of the most expensive races in the country — $68 million and it’s all candidate spending as the two agreed to ban outside money. With the backing of the tea party, Brown won a special election in January 2010 to fill the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. Brown has vowed to be an independent voice in the Senate, but he’s up against some hard numbers. Obama will win the state handily and there will be 700,000 to 800,000 more voters than in 2010, many of them Democrats and independents who favor Democrats.
—Indiana: Tea party-backed state treasurer Richard Mourdock stunned the GOP in May when he easily knocked out six-term Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary. He is giving Republicans fits again because he could lose on Tuesday even as Romney wins the state and Rep. Mike Pence likely emerges as the next governor. Mourdock had limited goodwill after suing in 2009 to stop the federal government’s bailout of Chrysler. He further damaged his hopes when he said in a debate that pregnancy resulting from rape is “something God intended.” Public and internal polls show conservative Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly with a lead in the high single digits. The question is whether he can overcome the state’s Republican trend. Libertarian Andrew Horning could affect the outcome.
I endorse Scott Brown and Joe Donnelly (or Andrew Horning). The GOP needs to be punished for replacing respected Senators like Richard Lugar with complete morons like Mourdock. Fix the GOP by electing people like Brown and rejecting people like Mourdock.
And enjoy the election. I like to always look at the bright side. I’ll either win my IEM bet or I’ll avoid a tax increase. And whichever candidate wins, lots of people whom I despise will be very unhappy.
PPPS. My 13 year old daughter told me that she also recommends that all my readers vote for Johnson.
PPPPS. I see Gallup and Rasmussen dropped their numbers to +1, just as the skeptics predicted they would do. The critics predicted that if the other polls were at even right before the election, those two GOP-leaning polls would chicken out and mysteriously join the majority, to avoid looking foolish on election day. I can’t prove that’s what happened, but the skeptics’ prediction certainly came true. And since Intrade didn’t move on the news, it appears that Intrade bettors never took them seriously.