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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why I Endorse Gary Johnson

I have written previously about the frustrations many American voters are experiencing and why that has led to the movements behind Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. I have also shared thoughts on the Presidential races before. Now, I am ready to endorse a specific candidate.

Before I get to that, I will say I was interested in the candidacy of Sanders simply because I saw him as the one candidate in the two major parties who I believed would get the discussion going where it needed to go. For example, I do not believe Sanders would ever deliver on making college tuition free. However, I believe that, by bringing up the point, it would force lawmakers to take a closer look at why tuition rates continue to rise. Only a small minority of Sanders supporters believe free college education was realistic, but the majority of those I read about who backed him simply wanted the issue of rising tuition fees and student loan debt addressed, even if it didn't result in free tuition.

My belief in a candidate that I believe will get the political conversation going in the direction it really needs to go, is one of many reasons I am endorsing Gary Johnson for President of the United States. I voted for him in 2012 because I believed he was the best candidate for the job. When Johnson announced he was seeking the Libertarian Party nomination, I kept an eye on him again. Now that Sanders will not be on the Democratic Presidential ticket, my choice became clear: Gary Johnson is the person I believe who is the best person for the job.

Make no mistake: I do not agree with where Johnson stands on every issue. However, I also recognize that no President has ever gotten everything he wanted. That is how it should be. But the task of the President is to get the conversation steered where it needs to go and to surround himself with the right advisers who will guide him in that direction. If the President believes a bill before him is unacceptable, he may veto it, and if Congress overrides the veto, the President's conscience remains clear. If the President suggests an idea, though, he is within his rights to try to convince Congress his idea is a good one. Congress is not compelled to act, but that shouldn't stop the President from making suggestions. And I believe Johnson will make an honest attempt in both areas. If he has an idea, he'll suggest it and try to persuade others, but will recognize it's up to Congress to take action. And if Congress passes a bill he cannot support, he will veto it and, if Congress overrides, he will recognize that's how the process works while maintaining his disagreement. (Remember, one does not have to agree with a law in order to enforce it.)

As for where Johnson stands on certain issues, I will address those where I support him.

* I am glad that Johnson has maintained that he never actually "created a job" while serving in elected office. Johnson is correct that no politician has ever "created a job" unless that politician passed legislation to create or expand an existing agency. Where government really has an influence in "job creation" deals with taxation policies that encourage all types of business growth rather than skewed toward corporate America (tax subsidies) or policies that have the net effect of discouraging people from attempting to start a business. I believe Johnson understands the real difference between good regulation and bad regulation and that he will work to remove as much bad regulation as possible while ensuring regulation that truly protects people stays in place and that resources are devoted to better enforce those regulations.

* I back him on term limits. The biggest problem we have are the number of politicians who seek elected office solely because they want to get to Washington. We need to make it clear that elected office is designed to be where you serve the citizens for a brief period, then return to whatever job or private pursuit you originally held. Not only will term limits inject new ideas into government, but they should discourage those who have the idea of becoming "career politicians" or utilizing their time in Washington in hopes of getting employed by a special interest group.

* I back Johnson with regards to identifying wasteful spending. While I do not believe one should cut areas of the budget willy nilly, I believe Johnson will carefully consider what areas can be cut back without compromising government services overall. We need to recognize that there is wasteful spending in the military and much of it does nothing to help those who serve in the military unless they happen to be a high-ranking official and that we do need to examine social security, Medicare and Medicaid and find better ways to reform these services that doesn't involve what amounts to a patchwork job.

* I support his general ideas for non-interventionism and recognizing that much of the instability that is evident in the Middle East came as a result of the United States' direct involvement there. Most people fail to understand that extremist movements don't spring up just to spring up; they do so in response to certain events that they don't like. Scaling back our involvement in the Middle East is more likely to have an effect on easing the influence of extremist movements than increasing our involvement ever will. More importantly, our focus should be on working to improve relations with certain nations so they will take a leadership role in the Middle East and work to discourage extremist beliefs. A nation like Iran may not trust the United States, but trust is a two-way street and the United States has done just as much to give Iran reason to distrust it as Iran has done to the United States.

* I support his beliefs on immigration because I believe they will lead to a simplified system for welcoming immigrants to this country and that they would direct our policies toward what the idea behind immigration should be about: To get immigrants to become productive citizens of the United States, not to be used as an excuse for cheap labor.

* I support his ideas for criminal justice reform, the legalization of marijuana and his ideas for rehabilitation efforts for any others who use illegal drugs. It is past due for us to admit that the War on Drugs has failed, just as Prohibition failed many years earlier.

* I back his ideas for what really can be done to encourage protecting the environment. In the long run, I believe that innovation is what will make alternative sources of energy more viable, but I do not agree with the idea of using federal money to promote one source at the expense of another, nor will I support the use of taxation (whether it's increase or breaks) for that purpose. We should not subsidize oil companies, wind farms, coal mining, solar companies, natural gas companies or any other energy source, regardless of what one thinks about the sources and its impact.

* I support his stance on abortion. It's not something I necessarily agree with and I favor banning third trimester abortions unless the woman's life is in danger. But I agree with Johnson that it's best for the government to stay out of it for the most part.

* I support his stances on personal freedom, internet freedom and security and I believe he will steer the conversation back to "with freedom comes responsibility" and that he will ensure that policies are implemented accordingly, in which the government will punish those who abuse those freedoms but will not spend its time acting like watchdogs who act like every American can't be trusted.

There are issues on which I do not agree with Johnson. I do not believe it is possible to go to a consumption tax alone to fund the federal budget, but I believe Johnson will steer the conversation toward simplifying the tax code and finding a way to allow for a federal sales tax to be implemented as part of the funding process. I disagree with most of his stances on education, though I would back him on opposing any attempts by the federal government to entice states to adopting certain standards or curriculum. Johnson does not get into his stance on minimum wage but I suspect his stances would lead him to not support it, while I support a minimum wage increase with certain conditions.

(Regarding minimum wage, I support a package deal that would increase the minimum wage, end the withholding of income tax from paychecks and make the first $50,000 for all individuals income tax free, to go along with implementing a federal sales tax and using the minimum wage increase to get more people off the welfare and Medicaid rolls. All one has to do is look at how many Wal-Mart employees are on welfare and Medicaid to know that those are not simply there for people who are too lazy to get a job -- a stance that I do believe Johnson agrees is a ridiculous assertion.)

However, I believe Johnson will get our conversation going where it needs to go. I do not see Hillary Clinton able to do that, given that she lacks political savvy. There is a real sense of distrust for her, even if there are voters who find her preferable to Donald Trump. But I see Clinton as not being able to steer the conversation where it needs to go and not being able to convince legislators or the public about her ideas. While I will acknowledge that some will oppose her because she is a Democrat or because she is a woman (or both), I believe she will fall too easily to the prey of special interest groups (read: the elite and well connected) and will not keep herself focused on ideas that will truly lead toward solutions that will help the average citizen. Furthermore, her hawkish foreign policy is something I cannot support.

As for Trump, he's nothing but an orator. It goes without saying that somebody like that is going to talk the talk but be unable to walk the walk, not because Democrats oppose him or many minorities oppose him (although they certainly do), but because Trump simply does not have the leadership skills to get legislators working on solutions. Name calling might echo the frustrations some voters feel, but it has never led to solutions and never will.

 I refuse to accept the idea that my endorsement of Johnson is a endorsement or vote for either Clinton or Trump. First, the notion that a vote for somebody other than Clinton is a vote for Trump, or that a vote for somebody other than Trump is a vote for Clinton, is less about voting for somebody than it is about voting against somebody. Second, it waters down third-party candidates into a simplistic narrative rather than examining every factor that goes into every election. If you look at the big picture rather than a part of it, you'll find out that one factor by itself hasn't really decided our recent elections. Third, we must consider that many GOP voters are not going to vote for Trump because they don't like him, and the same goes for some Democrats who will not vote for Clinton for the same reason. I expect more GOP voters to vote for Clinton instead of Trump than Democrats to vote for Trump instead of Clinton, but the fact is, those who usually back one party but won't back that party's candidate had made up their minds when the primaries started that they wouldn't back that candidate. But the truth is that there are always those party members who choose to vote for a candidate other than the one nominated because they don't care for that candidate and that's not changing any time soon. (And the belief some hold that a political party must be "pure" in its views is one of many reasons why I no longer am a member of a political party.)

Finally, the biggest reason why I reject the notion that voting for Johnson is a vote for either Trump or Clinton is because I believe that every person needs to vote for the candidate he or she believes is the best person for the job. If more than two candidates are running, even if those third party candidates aren't high profile, I believe voters owe it to themselves to at least consider what those candidates have to say. Since I started looking closer at third party candidates, I have liked Johnson and the ideas he brings to the table and I believe he is the best person for the job.

I am appalled at the behavior of certain Republican and Democrat voters who act as though one has to get on board with the candidate who holds that party's nomination and conform to whatever that candidate has to say. While I do not believe they represent the majority of Republicans and Democrats, their behavior is not going to convince me that their party's candidate is the best one for the job, and more importantly, that behavior is going to do more harm than good to their party in the long run.

I reject any notion that I have to get behind a candidate simply to prevent somebody else from getting into office. I do not reject the notion, though, that if people believe the candidate they want to vote for is the best person for the job, that they should not do so. If you truly believe Clinton is the best person for the job, that is your decision. If you believe the same of Trump, that's your decision, too. I may not agree with you, but I will acknowledge it is your decision and will not send you on a guilt trip for it.

But that is why I will state that I am happy to endorse Gary Johnson for President, because I believe he is the best candidate for the job. Ultimately, that is what matters the most to me and I stand by my endorsement.

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