There’s no such thing as a pure protest election. You’re also voting for something–and these two stand for many deeply troubling notions. “>
By now, youve seen Gary Johnsons second Aleppo moment , from Wednesday nights Hardball.
Its embarrassing even to watch, like seeing someone who genuinely thinks he can sing butcher a sung. As we know, its the second hour Johnson has had such a few moments, the first arriving 3 weeks ago, when he obviously had no idea of what was happening in, or even likely the very existence of, the worlds most tragic city. Although both sets of might still rank as less embarrassing than the MSNBC clip in which he quite literally bites his tongue to make…some point or other about the debates.
Ten days ago, I wrote a column that was an attempt to persuade swing voters that whatever their reservations about Hillary Clinton, her flaws paled in comparison to those of Donald Trump. I said then that I would write more such letters to swing voters, so lets consider this column a second one: Please, dont vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Lets start with Johnson.
I might think that the above two episodes are in themselves disqualifying. The man is putting himself forward to be president of the United States. He ought to know a little something about the world.
But maybe you think a chairperson with a competent personnel can get up to speed on such things. Fine. Theres more to think about here with regard to Johnson specifically and libertarianism generally.
Libertarianism in recent years has developed a kind of hipster cred. It seems to be against “the mens”. Libertarians are anti-war, usually( the cred narrative started with Ron Pauls scathing assaults on the Bush/ Cheney crowd ). They support abortion the same rights and homosexual rights. Live and let live. And most of all, libertarians want to legalize pot. I think thats the big one, for young people especially. I readily confess it would have seemed fairly appealing to the me of 30 years ago.
But heres the catch. The libertarian live-and-let-live credo doesnt apply merely to young people whod like to blow a doob in a public park( thats how we put it back in my day, sonny, and Im not going to make any phony attempt to be hip ). It applies to polluting corporations. It applies to corporations and individuals who want to stimulate unlimited dark fund contributions to political campaigns. It applies to the forces pushing free trade. It applies to employers who dont want to be nickel-and-dimed over paying their workers a minimum wage. It applies to gun producers, and to the National Rifle Association.
These are libertarian faiths, and Gary Johnson adheres to them, as Eric Zorn merely laid out in a crushing column in the Chicago Tribune, which is backed up by my own research and that of others. Theres also a ton of chapter and verse in this great Rolling Stone piece by Tessa Stuart. Johnson shrugs his shoulders at climate change and doesnt guess the government has any business dealing with this problem. He supports the Citizens United decision and thinks donors should be able to expend as much fund as they want. He backs the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which I would think most young people resist strongly, after listening to Bernie Sanders inveigh against it for a year. Speaking of Bernie, Johnson opposes tuition-free college. Hes against a federal minimum wagethats right, any federal minimum wage( although sometimes his reply are so straying and circumlocutory that it can be hard to tell ). And as for gun, he told Slate in 2011: I dont believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None.
Go back over the above paragraph and think about the country and world marriage have if a President Johnson got his style on all these mattersthe unchecked carbon emissions, the people sweating away in hard jobs for the least amount of money their employers can get away with paying them, the mass shootings that would surely result after President Johnson and a giddy GOP Congress wipe away the scant existing federal gun legislation that remains on the books. I submit to you its not the world youre looking for.
The temptation among some folks is strong to swim against the tide and thumb ones nose at the establishment, and plainly Ill grant that no one is more establishment than Clinton. Its a election that is principally against somethingin this case, her pro-corporate sail-trimming and all the remainder. But a protest election is never solely a protest election. Youre also voting for something. And even if you rationalize that away by saying to yourself, Ah, hes not gonna win, Im merely having my jollies, Id urge you to bear in mind that jollies can have consequences, too.
This brings us to the Green Partys Jill Stein. About 90,000 voters in Florida in 2000 thought they were just having their jollies. Instead, those Ralph Nader voters did end up doing their part in helping to give us George W. Bush, which in turn gave us Iraq and the Great Recession and all the rest of it. I really hope that people in swing countries figured out post-2 000 that all that did end up having consequences.
But I would extend the debate against Stein beyond swing countries. Again, a protest election is also a vote for something. So exactly what he Stein for? A few progressive things. And a few things that voice progressive but arentnotably, forgiveness of all existing college indebtednes. This sounds progressive, but as Jordan Weissman explained at Slate, its actually a huge giveaway to the upper middle class, who hold a disproportionate share of that debt.
But the weirdest thing about Stein is her apparent affinity for Vladimir Putin. You read that right. She went to Moscow and met with Putin, and was even seated at his table. Russian Green Party activists rebuked her for not even mentioning human rights and LGBT rights when she met with Putin.
I dont know Stein, so I cant tell why, but I can tell you that in general terms, there is within the far left of Steins generation( shes 66) an idea inherited from the Cold War that holds that to be too critical of Russia is on some level to endorse the presumptions and priorities of the American war machine. Its for reasons related to this that you find a fair amount of quasi-apologetics for Putin on the American far left. Her own website boastsactually boastingsthat after Putin listened to her speech in Moscow, he answered: What I would like to say, something really unexpected, when I was watching this material. When I was listening to your remarks, legislators from other countries, you know what I caught myself thinking about? I agree with them, on many issues.