Run, Gary, Run

It may seem peculiar for a left-wing progressive blogger such as myself to advocate for a Republican but I urge Gary Johnson, the former two-time governor of New Mexico, to run for the nomination of his party in 2012. I am not a believer in libertarian-style limited government but I do believe Gary Johnson presents a vision that is worth debating and has ideas that are worth listening to. In 2012, only the Republican party will have a spirited intra-party debate and I think it important, not just for the GOP but for the country, to have a wider spectrum of conservatism exposed. If the GOP is determined to double down on Palinite insanity, then it is lost but voices such Gary Johnson's represent a deep current of American political thought. Gary Johnson's views deserve to be aired and debated. Nor do I believe that the Democratic party has a monopoly on good ideas nor that everything that emanates from across the aisle is necessarily bunk.

Last week, he launched the Our America Initiative that seeks to increase the amount of discussion and public involvement on issues such as the economy and job creation, fiscal discipline, civil liberties, the war on drugs, immigration and taxes. Johnson will serve as the spokesman for the committee and participate in discussions and issue-oriented events across the country. “Current concerns with the economy, deficit spending and the loss of jobs and homes across the country are important issues that need to be addressed,” Johnson stated. “I believe the nation is looking for a rational voice to lead this discussion. Through the launch of OUR America, we intend to bring this voice to the people. It is our objective to capitalize on the undercurrent of support across the nation for these issues, and to engage the public in meaningful, open, and productive dialogue.”

From Politico:

Johnson is starting to sound like a mad-as-hell populist with an eye cast on 2012 and the building fury aimed at Washington.

“I’m finding myself really angry over spending and the deficit,” he said in an interview with POLITICO this week. “I’m finding myself really angry over what’s happening in the Middle East, the decision to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely. I’m angry about cap and trade. And I’ve been on record for a long time on the failed war on drugs.”

Is that enough to design a presidential campaign around? It might be, at a time of tea parties, rage at bailouts, job loss and general voter discontent. And there is plainly an opportunity for some politician to harness the anti-establishment, populist grass-roots fervor that is right leaning but untethered to any party at the moment.

It’s what Ron Paul tried to do in last year’s presidential campaign, but Johnson may better positioned to ride the populist wave than the longtime Texas GOP congressman. For one thing, the anti-establishment energy was not at the fever pitch then that it’s nearing now. And, unlike the unlikely Paul, a 73-year-old who got interested in elected politics when Richard Nixon abandoned the gold standard in 1971, Johnson is telegenic, is media savvy and, equally important, has twice been easily elected to statewide office.

To be brief, he's pro-choice, anti-spending, environmentally progressive (though he's against cap and trade), against the war in Afghanistan, a civil libertarian that recognizes the overreach of government into our personal lives and recognizes that the war on drugs has been an unmitigated failure. It is on these last few issues that I hope that Gary Johnson might prove a determinant voice. He is also one of the few politicians on the right or even the left for that matter who can articulate a noninterventionist national security message effectively.

Gary Johnson may be the Steve Jobs of politics, down to the casual jeans and mock black turtleneck, he's someone who does things his way and remains the eternal optimist. He's also Ron Paul without the quirks or the penchant for a gold standard. He's definitely a son of the American West and represents the mold of the citizen-activist (his 1995 run for Governor of New Mexico was his first foray into electoral politics). I don't share many of his views but I do believe that he would bring issues, now dormant, to the forefront of our national conversation.

Tags: Gary Johnson, GOP, libertarianism, Our America PAC, US Presidential Election 2012 (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

Left-wing, progressive blogger?

Charlie, I don't think you're fooling too many people in that regard and I, for one, am not the least bit surprised to see you promoting Gary Johnson.  Annoyed that you've been allowed to hijack this site, but not surprised.  

by Thaddeus 2009-12-18 03:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Left-wing, progressive blogger?

Due your whacked....

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-18 03:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Left-wing, progressive blogger?

Funny, I totally agree with the post.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-18 07:33AM | 0 recs
Fine...agree with the post

but you might want to pay a little more attention to the full Lemos package.  I'm just sayin'

by Thaddeus 2009-12-18 08:23AM | 0 recs
sorry, but i disagree...

responding to: "In 2012, only the Republican party will have a spirited intra-party debate."

i'd be shocked, absolutely shocked, if president obama was not challenged from the left.  at this point, howard dean's name comes to mind...

by bored now 2009-12-18 03:43AM | 0 recs
Re: sorry, but i disagree...

Dean would make a great choice in 2012! I think he's proven himself to be the one Democrat willing to stand up for principles

by writestuff 2009-12-18 06:21AM | 0 recs
Palin has no shot

Palin is the darling of the hard right, but the mainstream of the GOP doesnt like the woman at all. She has no shot at the nomination, I dont know why people still keep saying she does.....shes clueless and everyone but the extreme right knows it...

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-18 03:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Palin has no shot

I think she represents the growing rift between the Republican establishment and the rank-and-file.  They don't care that she's clueless.  In fact, that's kind of the point.  The danger for the Repubs is that if they begin attacking SP, she actually wins because it makes the point of the base that they can't stand her any more than the Democrats can.  So, the leadership has to be very, very careful about how they approach her.  They don't want her as the nominee, but they also don't want to lose the base.

by the mollusk 2009-12-18 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Run, Gary, Run

An excellent post.  There are a lot of places where people on the left agree with the people on the (libertarian-ish) right but the people in the middle tend to disagree or be oblivious-- the drug war and civil liberties come quickly to mind.

In looking at the last several GOP nominees, I see that that party has been almost criminal in its negligence in picking candidates who are qualified to be President (McCain, Bush, Bush, Dole)  The only recent nominee even remotely qualified for the job was Bush, Sr.  I for one would like to see the Republicans have a primary of ideas instead of the insipid noise machine of a race that seems to be developing between Palin, Pawlenty, that guy with the nice hair from Massachusetts-- a primary where the only ideals are to go with the prevailing winds and act in as toxic a way possible.

I'd like to see Johnson run and get really promote THINKING and get the nomination and then lose to Obama, but not before getting some good ideas out there for presidnt Obama to use.

by CapitalShill 2009-12-18 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Run, Gary, Run

Two and a half minutes with no substance but lots of ominous music.  

by LionelEHutz 2009-12-18 05:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Run, Gary, Run

Don't I get a ShamWOW or something?

by the mollusk 2009-12-18 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Run, Gary, Run

I think he's the right guy to be rooting for in the GOP primary in 2012. I rooted for McCain in 2000 heavily, because I didn't want Bush as President.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-18 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Run, Gary, Run

Mind you, I don't think he's got a snowball's chance in hell but if he can speak out on civil liberties, a noninterventionist foreign policy and the absurdity of the drug wars, he would be enhancing the national conversation.

There's lots on which I disagree with him. He's for private prisons and school vouchers - ideas that make me very uncomfortable.

It used to be that third parties in this country would generate new ideas that would get taken up by the two dominant parties. We are seemingly now dependent on "fringe" candidates for invigorating our national discourse.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-18 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Run, Gary, Run

I think you are underestimating his chances. In Iowa, recall that an old guy running for the 4th time with a similar message in the GOP field in '08 came a couple of hundred votes away from placing 3rd. If Ron Paul doesn't run, all those and more votes go to Johnson. In my view, all he has to do is get ahold of the VAN list and comb through who voted in the '08 caucus in the Democratic primary for the first time (target the independent and Republican voters there) and he's got a potential huge bonanza of voters. Plus, I don't recall any other candidate in Iowa that had the Republican energy like Paul did, not Huckabee, even though he won. He could flame out, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him shoot up either.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-18 10:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Run, Gary, Run

Libertarianism is certainly on the rise. Johnson also connects well with the under 30 crowd. But can he raise the money and build the organization?

This is an interesting story. Also from New Mexico, the NM-03, currently represented by Ben Ray Lujan:

Anti-war Activist Mounts GOP Campaign for Congress

There's certainly a revolt afoot.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-18 10:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Run, Gary, Run

If someone can figure out how to be pro-environment, pro-working-class, anti-corporation, and drastically reduce our military presence around the world (and still win elections), they will have the hearts and minds of this country.  That's not either party currently.

by the mollusk 2009-12-18 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Dumb Gary, Dumb

I am a New Mexico citizen who followed Gary Johnson's "career" when he was governor here for two terms in the 90s.

The common name for him was "Gov. Goofy," and he fully lived up to his name. But aside from his curiously libertarian views on drug legalization, I cannot recall a single other issue - social, administrative, political, international - in which he evinced any interest, curiosity or passion during his 8-year tenure.

He stumbled into the governor's office because of a series of defective, damaged Democratic candidates who ran against him, very much as Spiro Agnew vaulted into the governorship of Maryland by drawing a Democrat whose campaign slogan was "A Man's Home Is His Castle."

Gov. Johnson is best and most fondly remembered in one State agency for his use - during a departmental staff meeting - of a story about knowing there was a problem with the cleaning staff when he saw "curly, black, pubic hairs" on the toilet bowl. I have never seen several hundred people try so hard not to laugh! This story was repeated at least one more time at a later departmental staff meeting.

Gov. Johnson vetoed nearly everything that came out of the State Legislature and rarely appeared interested in any of the usual machinations of government one would expect of a chief executive. Legislators referred to him as "Governor No," and the State GOP reveled in how balanced the budgets were during those years. Others noted the complete rudderlessness of State government and the lack of any effort to improve the lives of ordinary New Mexico citizens. These years of limbo for the State of New Mexico.

From one progressive's point of view, the enduring legacy of Gov. Johnson was the self-destruction of the Republican Party of New Mexico, which was divided into bitter factions that are still slugging it out these many years later. Johnson's discussion of the legalization of marijuana was the ostensible cause of the factional fighting, but now it has devolved into "Ordinary GOP" vs "Neo-Con GOP" and the fight rages on. Thanks, Gary! You the MAN!

Democrats seized on the GOP's continued weaknesses and managed to win all US Senate and Congressional seats in 2008, even in the very conservative southern 2nd Congressional District.

Having witnessed firsthand the insubstantial intellectual capacity of Gary Johnson, I do not think he is a threat to the national GOP, Democrats or anyone else besides possibly himself: his well-known insistence on jogging every day led to his multi-month recovery from a bad fall when he slipped on an ice patch near the governor's mansion during a particularly bad Santa Fe winter. Gerald Ford, anyone?

by NewMecca 2009-12-18 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Dumb Gary, Dumb

I agree with you but I do think he can bring a few issues - drugs, civil liberties and the national security state - to the fore. That's really it in a nutshell.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-18 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Dumb Gary, Dumb

lol, we are talking Bush & Palin, and you can't believe intellectual capacity is a question, right?  The bar is pretty low already.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-18 10:38AM | 0 recs

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