Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Friday, July 29, 2016

Gary Johnson: A wolf in sheep's clothing

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are wedging their way into the 2016 presidential race by asserting they are viable alternatives to the major party candidates. While it is doubtful either of these outsiders can muster enough votes to overcome the big party machines, it seems Johnson’s use of social media to tout his qualifications makes him more visible.

But, Johnson has also been coy about all his positions, advancing mostly his Libertarian views on social issues to attract progressives or liberals in hopes of luring them away from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Those social issue positions include decriminalizing marijuana, ending the “war on drugs” and supporting gay marriage — all posited on social media. However, there are other issues with this election and the Seattle Times has outlined them here. And, in providing that information, the Times shows Johnson to be far more dangerous to progressives than he want them to know.

I know nothing about Stein, but I was a reporter in New Mexico when Johnson was governor and believe he did harm to that state by wielding a promiscuous veto pen. With that background, here are some conclusions I can can draw from the Times’ synopsis on the topics on which I feel sufficiently versed:

·Education — Johnson’s view “there is no role for the federal government in education” is dangerous and a national security threat. By cutting the Department of Education, he would fully open the door to the kind of idiocrasy we see from the Texas Board of Education. Spreading that anti-intellectual, anti-fact and anti-scientific cancer to those conservative state already saddled with his proportions of ignorant population won’t help the United States on the world stage. It is one of the ways that the corporatists support their takeover of the government. An educated and critically thinking electorate is the key to a viable republic.

·Climate — Johnson’s view that the climate is “probably” changing and humans are “probably” contributing to it is a grudging concession at best. He view that punishing polluters and not “intervening” in markets is a Romulan cloaking of his thrall with the energy industry. It also reflects a failure to understand the masters and puppeteers in thwarting the weaning off of fossil fuels.

·Economy — Johnson’s advocacy for a “free market” economy with limited regulation is again a corporatist tool to bring us back to the age of the Robber Barons. He so-called consumption tax, much like the New Mexico gross receipts tax, is regressive and favors the rich; and, his so-called prebate opens another whole can of worms about the definition of “necessities.” His economic view is simplistic and overlooks the wheels and levers of a vastly more complex economy than he can understand. Nowhere is this ignorance more evident in his position on health care.

·Health care — Johnson, like so many politicians on the right, either don’t understand basic health economics; or, if they do, choose to use language to pander to those too ignorant to understand the discipline. While he doesn’t define “fully privatized health care,” the implication is dismantling Medicare and Medicaid and giving the private insurance industry carte blanche to return to the 1940s and 1950s. Such a move would reinstate medical underwriting, leading to (literally) people dying. It would let the private insurers and BigPharma reap huge profits and the expense of those for whom we should have compassion.

In short, don't be fooled by his mild manner and charm. His views reflect a cruel ignorance and disdain for anyone who hasn’t already “got theirs.” His presidency would take us back to the 19th Century or worse.