Run, Gary, Run
by Charles Lemos, Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 10:54:33 PM EST
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.
Johnson is starting to sound like a mad-as-hell populist with an eye cast on 2012 and the building fury aimed at Washington.
Im finding myself really angry over spending and the deficit, he said in an interview with POLITICO this week. Im finding myself really angry over whats happening in the Middle East, the decision to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely. Im angry about cap and trade. And Ive 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.
Its what Ron Paul tried to do in last years 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 its 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.