Feel The Johnson

Onyx Contributor:  Tim Druck (@southendtimd)

Gary Johnson is someone I could get behind.  If Gary Johnson was a Republican, I’d vote for him.

Whoa.  Huh?

I’ve often said that I’d be a conservative if there weren’t so many damn Republicans.  And it’s true.  Conservatives are supposed to want the government out of your lives.  But to me, out of my life means out of my bedroom, out of my wallet, out of my business.  And that’s not Republican.  It’s conservative, but it’s not the modern GOP.  I’m a liberal for social reasons, but only because I believe that the government insisting that we must respect others’ rights is better than the government giving you excuses as to why you aren’t required to do so.  I think both sides of the aisle are dead wrong on taxation, and I don’t think there’s any good plan on spending except “whatever gets me re-elected.”  I have opinions, but they don’t seem to count.  And that’s one great reason to not be into either major party candidate.

But vote for a third party guy?  I just don’t know, man.  There’s two reasons I’m scared of that.  Their names are Ross Perot and Ralph Nader.

I like Gary Johnson personally and I think he’s probably most honest of any candidate.

I think he’s right that the national debt is going to be a serious problem eventually, and going to paralyze us until we deal with it, and that the Congress has been very irresponsible by borrowing from the future in terms of bonds, etc.  But I don’t like at all the idea that he wants to cut the Federal budget by over 40%.  We need roads and schools and a military.  Government isn’t always the problem.  Certain things are to be provided for the common welfare and defense, and private production of those things allows the element of human nature to be introduced.  We all know how that turns out – go count the potholes in the wealthy neighborhoods in your hometown.  But I’m willing to listen if he’s willing to compromise.  I do think that if the Federal government were required to show the thrift of the average American family, we could all live better.

I am 1000% against Gary Johnson’s tax plan.  Gary Johnson wants to eliminate income taxes and corporate taxes entirely in favor of a 23% national sales tax.  I strongly, strongly, vehemently believe that sales taxes are regressive in that the poorer you are, the more of a burden the tax is on you.  Notice my wording – not that the tax burden is heavier on you, but that the burden of tax is heavier on you.  Not to mention the incredibly negative effect on the American economy that would result from making everything in America 23% more expensive.

But I’m in favor of seriously radical tax reform.  I think that the American tax system is a joke.  We all think we pay too much, and we all have arguments for that opinion, and in general we’re all wrong.  Nobody pays what they actually think they do, and we all have ways to get out of it.  I strongly believe that the more complex a system is, and the more it tries to accommodate everybody, the more unfair it is to everybody in the end, and the more cheatable the system becomes.  I’d be in favor of a tax system that is fair to everybody.  A new tax code should create an equitability of taxation that fairly shares the tax burden while recognizing the differing weight of that burden upon differing income levels.

I think Gary Johnson is exactly right about abortion when he supports a woman’s right to choose until fetal viability.  Period.  Everybody has to give a little, back off the militant stances and get what you can.  Abortion until 24 weeks.  This is not a binary choice, your way or my way.  This is how democracy works.  I don’t, however, agree with him that each state should decide their own abortion policy.  I believe that if Johnson is right, he’s right everywhere, and that if women have rights in one place, they should have them everywhere.

I think he’s 100% right about Civil Rights.  He’s a firm believer in the complete separation of church and state, LGBT rights including marriage, and supports equal pay and the Equal Rights Amendment for women.  Gary Johnson believes exactly what I do:  all men are created equal and are entitled to equal protection under the law.  End of story.  No negotiation.

I think Gary Johnson is very right about certain crime policies.  Too many people are in prison for harmless crimes.  We have spent almost 100 years deciding to take away the freedom of grown, adult human beings for ‘crimes’ of morality.  It’s my opinion that a crime is not a crime until you can show where a person’s actions unduly impinge upon another person’s pursuit of their own rights.  Gary Johnson and I believe that things like drugs and prostitution would be better regulated than outlawed.  That the American criminal justice system creates criminals rather than preventing crime.

I’m starting to wonder if legalization of drugs and the treatment of addiction as a public health issue would be more effective than criminalization.  I think that criminal policy has been a proxy for institutional racism for almost a century.  I agree that the War on Drugs is a joke, but I’ve always been against full legalization.  That’s changing for me.  We shouldn’t tell adults what they can do, until it becomes a problem for others.  We don’t need to jail drug users.  The ones who can handle it will handle it, and the ones who can’t will be jailed for the offenses that come along with drug abuse.  At that point, we can treat the addiction as a method of treating recidivism.  But what you do with your own body, be it abusing it, intoxicating it, or selling it, is not a crime until it hurts someone else, and those things are generally crimes in themselves.

That said, Johnson wants to entirely privatize the prison system.  I’m 100% dead against private prisons, and private prisons are entirely a non-starter for me.  They create demand for prisoners instead of encouraging crime prevention.  As an industry, they are allowed to lobby Congress on the subject of criminal law and sentencing.  It’s my opinion that this practice is a conflict of interest.  Private prison companies are known to lobby for stricter sentencing and more criminal code, in the interests of higher profits.  Private prisons have no inherent interest in reducing recidivism.  Repeat customers are the best customers.  Would you rather law enforcement provide prisons with customers, or try to prevent crime from happening to you in the first place?  His personal integrity aside, I’m not sure the rest of the government cares if he wouldn’t allow a demand for prisoners to exist.  So we differ strongly on this point.

Gary Johnson has been an advocate for providing private school vouchers to increase school choice, presumably with the idea that competition will inspire improvement in education.  I don’t believe this.  I believe that as long as the same people offering the vouchers are allowed to suppress the funding of public schools, those public schools will necessarily not be able to show much improvement, which means that the private school ‘competition’ doesn’t have to perform very well to compete.  The leaders of our past were correct that the only way to provide equitable schooling to all citizens is the oversight of a government dedicated to equal protection for all.

Another reason I’m 100% against private school vouchers unless private schools have strict regulations as to how they’re operated, and they don’t.  I don’t like Johnson’s advocacy toward abolishing the Department of Education – I could go on an entire rant about how not having real educational standards damns children to no future based on where they’re born.  I read stories almost constantly about places like Texas and Tennessee whitewashing mentions of slavery from their textbooks, or eliminating mentions of events that ‘portray America in a negative light.’  I think that there must be an advocate for truth in education.  I like the idea of local control in principle, but I think that in this case, the truth suffers.  And if the truth must be sacred in any endeavor, it must be education.  We must not teach lies any longer, and this is getting worse, not better.

I don’t think he has a plan at all about healthcare, other than “Let the states figure it out.”  My personal opinion is that the problems Obamacare is facing are more about lobbying – insurance companies made sure that they could gut the requirements by attaching astronomical deductibles to their offered plans.  Gary Johnson believes that Obamacare is broken as a concept.  I strongly disagree.  It’s my opinion that Obamacare wasn’t allowed by the corrupt Congress to go far enough – the problems with Obamacare are the strongest argument for socialized medicine that can be made.  We’re going to have to disagree there.

He and I would have a lot to talk about re:  guns.  But I think we agree on the most basic thing:  the problem is people, not guns, and the solution has to be about people, not guns.  But how is this different than the rest of the country?  We all need to have an honest conversation about guns and people and how they interact.

I agree with what I know of Johnson’s energy policy.  He supports the expansion of nuclear energy and supports protecting the environment while also recognizing the need to eliminate foreign oil as a policy driver.  I don’t agree that states should be driving policy there, though, particularly over air and water quality.  My water flows through Ohio first.  Who’s to say that Ohio can’t decide that ruining my water is good for their business?

I totally agree with Gary Johnson about immigration.  A ten-foot wall just makes people build 11-foot ladders.  A two-year grace period to get a visa or become a citizen, or go home.  I think this has to include a Constitutional change to the effect that children born to illegals are not citizens – I don’t know where he stands on that.  I think that everybody is a human being, and I think Gary Johnson agrees with that.  I agree with Johnson that criminal activity should result in an automatic ticket home.  Illegals are not entitled to the benefits of citizens, but they also are people with hopes and dreams that they see reflected in America, and that is the best of the American dream.

I strongly agree with his stances re:  Patriot Act and reactionary military policy concerning terrorism.  I agree 100% about his stance on torture and due process for terrorism suspects.  Let the Patriot Act expire.  No torture, not now, not any kind, not ever.  Due process for everybody because America has principles.  And foreign policy must become conscientious of the underlying causes of terrorism, as well as long-term consequences.  Much of the terrorism problem around the world today has been caused by the hypocrisy of oil politics versus our stances on human rights – we seem to apply whichever is convenient in any situation, with no consistency.  This has to stop.  This has been the hallmark of the Obama Administration – the most successful area of the Obama presidency has been the restoration of respect for America around the world.  His focus on consistency and integrity in our dealings with other nations, and in recognizing and living by our stated principles, must continue.

I don’t agree at all with his stance on campaign finance, although I think he’s been personally exemplary in that area.  Johnson believes that the right to spend money on political speech is protected as political speech.  I have not seen a statement of his position on Citizens United.

And I don’t support his stance on minimum wage.  Left to their own devices, businesses do not care if you are paid enough to live.

No candidate is perfect.  I agree with Gary Johnson on a lot of fundamental issues, and disagree on others.  His personal integrity and his temperament, his personality, lend an air of responsibility and competency to his presence.  He seems like a guy you can trust with the livelihood of your family.  Like a good leader, a good boss.  I get the impression that the people around him like him quite a lot.

I’m not already a Johnson voter because I’m afraid that the nutcases who don’t understand that they have an option will elect Donald Trump.  I’m afraid to take my vote from Hillary Clinton.  But the truth is that I think Gary Johnson is much more my kind of guy.  And I have to consider that as well.  I do believe it’s time we had a national conversation about Gary Johnson, and a real consideration for third-party candidates.  Our major parties are not doing the job – all the time and resources they’re provided, all the attention and credibility we give them, and the best they can do is Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

I’m starting to wonder if America can do better.  And I’m pretty sure Gary Johnson would do better.

Think about it.

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