Saturday, May 21, 2016

Is Johnson/Weld just the ticket for Libertarians?

A Libertarian Ticket Sane Republicans Can Get Behind - David Boaz, Cato Institute:

May 20, 2016 - "Lots of Republicans are looking for a sane alternative to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and it looks like the Libertarian Party has just given it to them, now that former Massachusetts Governor William Weld has joined former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson’s ticket.

"It’s the first time two governors have shared a presidential ticket since ... 1948. Many observers think experience as a governor is the best preparation for the job of president. Johnson and Weld would bring 14 years of gubernatorial experience to the White House.... Johnson and Weld were both elected and re-elected in Democratic states, and dealt with heavily Democratic legislatures.

"Neither Johnson nor Weld is a purist libertarian, and both have come under fire within the Libertarian Party, which will nominate its candidates in Orlando over Memorial Day weekend. Johnson displeased many libertarians (including me) by saying that government should ban discrimination on the basis of religion, including requiring a Christian baker to bake and decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding. Weld has supported some gun control measures.

"But they will present a clear alternative to Trump and Clinton: strong and coherent fiscal conservatism, social liberalism, drug-policy reform, criminal-justice reform, reining in mass surveillance, ending executive abuse of power, and a prudent foreign policy that is neither promiscuously interventionist nor erratic and bombastic — all grounded in a philosophical commitment to liberty and limited government.

"They acted on those ideas as governors, with the usual accommodations to political reality. Johnson was called 'America’s boldest governor' by the Economist for his push for school choice. And that was before he came out for legalizing marijuana and moving away from the war on drugs. He vetoed more than 700 spending and regulation bills and left the state with a $1 billion surplus. Weld cut taxes, constrained state spending, and created a domestic partners program for gay state employees.

"In the Cato Institute’s biennial Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors, both Johnson and Weld earned A’s and B’s each time they were graded. Cato’s fiscal policy analysts are tough graders, and very few governors ever get an A....

"But neither Johnson nor Weld is a celebrity on the order of Trump or Ross Perot.... Neither has ... the kind of money that can buy national television ads and large staffs. Johnson has not yet shown an ability to draw huge crowds.... Johnson has already hit 10 percent in a couple of polls, but right now that’s probably a 'none of the above' vote. He still has to convert it into actual support.... Johnson and Weld have a steep hill to climb.

"But Trump and Clinton are the least popular major-party nominees in memory. In some polls a majority of voters say they’d like to vote for someone else. That’s the golden opportunity awaiting some alternative candidate, and it looks increasingly as if Gary Johnson will be the only alternative on all 50 ballots."

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