What Voters Need To Know About Gary Johnson

by Lea Grover
Originally Published: 
gary johnson
George Frey / Getty Images

This is a historic election year. Not only because we face choosing between the first female president and quite possibly the last democratically elected president, but because no candidate from a major party has ever been so widely disliked by the American public.

With a political climate this toxic, many people are taking third party candidates more seriously than they have in a century. And more than anyone, the Libertarian party’s candidate, Gary Johnson, is reaping the benefits of the public’s dissatisfaction with the other two choices for president. Johnson is polling at 27% with millennials, which is barely more than Trump, who is polling at 24%, and not far from Clinton, who is polling at 34%.

So what makes Gary Johnson so great an alternative? Here are some of the most important details.

Gary Johnson doesn’t believe climate change matters.

While he believes it probably exists, he doesn’t think human beings have anything to do with it, and more importantly, he doesn’t think there’s any reason we should fix it. He thinks the EPA is a good idea, in theory, but is opposed to funding it. Instead, he wants to use “Good Samaritan” laws to encourage companies to clean up their own messes — but would allow them to trash the environment around their factories regardless. He’s also opposed to the U.S. signing international agreements that tie other major coal-burning countries, like China, to using greener technologies. And speaking of coal, he’s in favor of opening new plants. He’s also in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

But he does have a plan for when the planet becomes inhospitable to human life. He wants the human race to begin building colonies on other planets. Which is kind of a fun idea, but he opposes funding programs like NASA that might allow the idea to become a possibility.

Gary Johnson believes that LGBT people are entitled to equal rights, but it is NOT the government’s job to protect them.

Although it’s true that Johnson has no problem with marriage equality, he has no interest in protecting LGBT Americans from the many other forms of discrimination they continue to experience. In many states, a person can still be legally fired or evicted from their home for being gay or transgender.

Gary Johnson is in favor of adopting a national policy to curb LGBT discrimination based on a law he supports and endorsed in Utah, known as the Utah Compromise, which bans housing and employment discrimination. However, that law also creates tiers within the concept of minority status — ostensibly saying that a person’s religious identity is entitled to more legal protection than a person’s gender or sexual identity. This means if you are an LGBT person who faces discrimination from somebody who claims it’s against their religion to work for or with you, the government recognizes their claim before recognizing your claim of anti-LGBT discrimination. It’s another way of saying, “Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.”

Gary Johnson thinks black lives DO matter, just not to the government.

While Gary Johnson has praised the Black Lives Matter movement for bringing attention to racism in policing, he believes the problem is not in institutional racism, but a result of the war on drugs. He thinks that ending the war on drugs will end the racial discrepancy in sentencing, and stop racist policing tactics. However, this completely fails to address the racist bias demonstrated time and time again in policing.

And when it comes to putting an end to institutional racism, there’s not much hope in the Johnson platform. Although he has said institutional racism is real and needs to be addressed, he has no mentions in his platform whatsoever of ending the systemic racism faced by people of color in the United States.

Gary Johnson supports private prisons.

Although private prisons are known to be more dangerous, more crowded, offer fewer services to inmates, and actually cost more to taxpayers, Gary Johnson thinks they’re a good idea. He believes that ending the war on drugs will end the massive human rights abuses currently going on in American prisons through depopulation. But the problems with private prisons go far beyond drug convictions. And worse, the private prison lobby is very powerful, and Johnson proposes giving them more authority to sway the politicians who really matter when it comes to prison reform — local and state authorities.

Given the state of American private prisons, which are currently experiencing the largest prisoner strike in history and in which the inmates have been joined in some prisons by guards striking for better conditions, depopulation alone is no answer at all.

Gary Johnson wants to dismantle every social security net we have.

Along with his support of private prisons, Johnson wants to privatize social security and raise the retirement age to 72 — four years younger than the average American man’s lifespan. He also wants to defund public education and switch to the sort of voucher system that has led to greater segregation in American schools since the Civil Rights Act. All in all, he wants to take the government entirely out of the job of helping the American public and hand over that responsibility to a private sector known to serve only its own self-interests.

Gary Johnson wants to grant more power and authority to the big Wall Street banks.

In an era when banks that are “too big to fail” are known to fail, when we’ve watched the entire economy collapse at the hands of a predatory financial market, Johnson wants to repeal every regulation against such reckless behavior. He wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, the law that is currently ensuring that Wells Fargo doesn’t go entirely without consequence for inventing millions of phony bank accounts and charging customers the fees for them. While Gary Johnson often gets lambasted by Libertarians for not being a “true” Libertarian himself, when it comes to the financial sector of our economy, he’s as true as it gets — which means no protections against monopolies, no protections against fraud, no protections for people from their banks at all. But this isn’t the only way Johnson doesn’t feel the need as a president to protect the people he represents.

Gary Johnson wants to eliminate all barriers to gun ownership.

In a country where three women a day are murdered by intimate partners, usually with a gun, Johnson wants to repeal laws that keep domestic abusers or people who have orders of protection filed against them from getting guns.

The only form of gun control he has expressed any willingness to consider is to prevent some mentally ill people from accessing guns. But even on that, he has made no clear proposals. And while we’re on the subject of Gary Johnson and mental illness…

Gary Johnson does not believe mental illnesses require treatment.

As governor of New Mexico, he vetoed a bill that would have forced insurance companies to cover mental health care costs at the same rate as other health care costs. The bill would have meant that people suffering from PTSD, PPD, and other common and sometimes debilitating mental health issues would have access to the treatment they required.

This is particularly devastating to the community of American veterans. Veterans alone commit suicide at a rate of approximately 20 a day in the U.S. And speaking of veterans…

Gary Johnson wants to dismantle the VA.

On the surface, he has plenty of good reasons. The VA is notorious for letting veterans slip through the cracks, and it is our duty as Americans to ensure that our volunteer military returns from service to a country where they are cared for. However, Gary Johnson’s plan doesn’t provide them with a better option. He wants to put their health care “in their own hands,” which means providing veterans with a health care plan to allow them to seek health care outside the VA system. But the details of that system begin to fall apart. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as well as Medicare part D, which means rising health care costs and caps that a Gary Johnson administration would have no interest in curbing. He believes the health care market will regulate itself in order to care for veterans — but as we already know, an unregulated health care market fails to meet the needs of those with the least among us, including combat veterans.

Gary Johnson knows nothing about foreign policy.

When asked point blank, Johnson had no clue what or where Aleppo — the epicenter of one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II — was. But his “What is Aleppo?” gaffe was only the tip of the iceberg. He doesn’t believe the United States has any role to play in dismantling ISIS, which he thinks will fizzle out by itself. And when asked to name a world leader he respected, he was unable to name a single one. That is frightening because it means either he has no respect for any leaders in the world — the people he is running to make his international co-workers and allies — or that he simply doesn’t know.

Gary Johnson sucks for women.

While Gary Johnson has made it clear he’s pro-choice, he has made it equally clear that he will appoint conservative judges to the federal bench who are likely not to be — and that is where abortion rights are generally attacked. And worse, he does oppose “late term abortions” which are most commonly performed when a doctor determines that at fetus is non-viable, forcing women to cope with the most traumatic choices for the outcome of a wanted pregnancy.

Also, while America is only one of two developed countries that does not guarantee paid parental leave, Johnson does not want to help us join the rest of the developed world.

A vote for Gary Johnson isn’t a vote for the future of the planet. It’s not a vote for minorities. It’s not a vote for children. And it’s not a vote for women. But it is a vote for Donald Trump.

In this election, third party candidates are swaying the polls more in Trump’s favor than Clinton’s, and in a contest including a candidate like Trump, the stakes are far too high to consider voting for somebody as demonstrably bad for America as Johnson.

Were it a contest between Johnson and Trump, a vote for Johnson would no doubt be a vote for a least a sane president. But that is not the election we face. In this case, Hillary Clinton is clearly the most qualified, sanest, and safest option in the field.

It’s time to stop looking at Gary Johnson as a viable option for the United States presidency. It’s time to see him as what he is: an opportunist using the clear and present danger of a Trump presidency to do what no other election possibly could — make him look good.

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