TAMPA, May 15, 2012 — Ron Paul’s announcement today that he will “no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted” may finally have some of his supporters considering the possibility that he will not be the Republican Party’s nominee. That may be overly pessimistic considering that Paul also stated that he will continue to pursue his delegate strategy, which has been far more successful than his quest for a primary win.
However, even the most ardent supporter may find it prudent to have a “Plan B,” especially in states where the rules on write-in candidates are onerous. There is one man who believes he’s wide open in the Plan B end zone. He’s former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson.
Johnson secured the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president at its national convention last Saturday in Las Vegas, winning over 70% of the delegate votes.
Johnson supports Ron Paul, but doesn’t think Paul will win the Republican nomination. He wants Ron Paul supporters to know that he represents an opportunity to vote for a lot of the things they believe in.
“Ron Paul has always been about a message and so have I and it’s the same message. It’s about liberty and it’s about freedom, first and foremost, and when Dr. Paul’s candidacy comes to an end, there’s a viable alternative and I don’t think it’s a handicapped choice. I think it’s reloading. There’s no concession.”
So, do Paul supporters have to compromise to vote for Johnson?
Not on most policy positions. Paul proposes to cut $1 trillion in spending during his first year as president. Johnson sees him and raises him, promising to submit a balanced budget in his first year. That would require over $1.4 trillion in spending cuts.
“The biggest ingredient in being able to do that is going to be a balanced approach at what does need to be cut,” says Johnson. “That’s going to mean Medicaid, Medicare and military spending for starters. You’re not going to get it by eliminating the Department of Education. I think that’s something that should be eliminated completely, but it’s got to be a balanced approach, a look at entitlements and military spending and when somebody falls off their chair because they hear about a 43% reduction in Medicare spending, I’m going to make the argument that better to have healthcare for those that are truly in need and over 65 as opposed to no healthcare at all, which is what we’re looking at if we continue to spend 43 cents of every dollar borrowed or printed. That’s not sustainable.”
Johnson will also eliminate three federal departments.
“Homeland Security being incredibly redundant, Housing and Urban Development having long outlived its arguable benefit, and then Education. The notion that each state receives 11 cents out of every dollar that it spends on education from the federal government, but it comes with 16 cents worth of strings attached. I don’t think everyone recognizes that it’s a negative to take federal education dollars. It was established in 1979. Return education to the states. Fifty laboratories of innovation and best practice and I’m going to argue that’s exactly what we’ll see.”
Johnson’s approach is definitely utilitarian. He is John Stuart Mill to Ron Paul’s Thomas Jefferson or John Locke. Where Paul relies on the natural law of non-aggression, Johnson employs a “cost-benefit analysis.”
Obviously, the two candidates take different paths to arrive at many of the same answers, but there are differences. One is foreign policy.
While Johnson promotes a “non-interventionist” foreign policy, he adds the caveat that it not be “isolationist.” For him, that means humanitarian military missions are not out of the question. These might include eliminating Joseph Kony in Uganda or stopping a further outbreak of violence in Darfur.
However, the Libertarian Party platform says that the “United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world.” Isn’t defending citizens in other countries being a “policeman of the world?” Johnson replies:
“I don’t think any of us in this country want to stand by and watch the Holocaust occur again. And when I found out about the Lord’s Resistance Army and that arguably this was the worst terrorist group on the planet for the last twenty years, that they are a finite group of about 300 and that they are directly responsible for tens of thousands of rapes, murders and mutilations, the three countries in which this group was terrorizing asked us for our help, Congress gave its authorization and the president signed off on that. I think the “i’s” are dotted, the “t’s” are crossed, and looking at it from my vantage point, this is preventing a further holocaust.”
That’s certainly not an unfamiliar perspective, nor difficult to sympathize with. However, it does raise several questions. Where is the limit on humanitarian missions? Can the U.S. taxpayer be held financially responsible for the security of everyone on the planet? For strict libertarians, the U.S. military can only be used against nations that attacked U.S. citizens. Once that limit is removed, where does it end?
The utilitarian approach is fraught with these types of problems. Once you abandon the natural law premise, there is the danger that you will inadvertently justify a whole lot more government. Johnson’s ideas about foreign policy are the most cause for concern for Paul supporters, but there are others.
However, with a $4 trillion federal budget a virtual certainty with either Obama or Romney, Paul supporters don’t have much to lose if Johnson is their only other choice. Do any of us?
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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