I have mentioned before that I consider myself to be a libertarian. Sometimes I support the Libertarian Party while other times I don't. Many libertarians feel that Ron Paul is the answer to all our problems. However, I am not entirely sold on him.
There is no doubt in my mind that "Dr. No" will cut federal spending significantly. This is a major accomplishment, especially in light of current events. However, in terms of government power overall, I fear he will simply give authority to the states. Authority that should not be given to any government, whether local or national. For instance, Paul supports the Defense of Marriage Act, which would prevent the federal government from establishing a definition of marriage and allow states to make their own laws regarding what is and isn't marriage, however discriminatory they may be. Additionally, Paul co-sponsored the Marriage Protection Act, which removed DOMA challenges from the jurisdiction of the federal court.
As I have said before, I support marriage privatization - let the government recognize any union by two consenting adults, but don't call it marriage. But that being said, same-sex couples should be allowed all the same rights as married couples. It shouldn't be left up to the government to decide what is or isn't marriage, regardless of which government that is. That is only one example of where Paul would give authority to the states - the War on Drugs being another along with laws concerning abortion and medical research.
I appreciate Paul's efforts to improve our civil liberties in some areas, for instance opposing the PATRIOT Act. However, I feel that there is a libertarian-leaning Republican who will protect our liberties, cut spending significantly, and (unlike Paul) reduce government authority instead of transferring it. That candidate is Gary Johnson. When he was governor of New Mexico for two terms, he was called "the most fiscally conservative governor in America". Indeed, he earned this honor, using his line-item veto to ensure the state had a balanced budget the whole time he was in office.
As governor, Johnson created 20,000 new jobs in the state. However, Johnson says he did not actually actually create them. Instead, as he pointed out recently,
"I can unequivocally say that I did not create a single job while I was governor. We kept government in check, the budget balanced, and the path to growth clear of unnecessary regulatory obstacles. My priority was to get government out of the way, keep it out of the way, and allow hard-working New Mexicans, entrepreneurs and businesses to fulfill their potential. That’s how government can encourage job growth, and that’s what government needs to do today."In other words, Johnson didn't actually create new jobs with taxpayer money like the Financial Stimulus did. Instead, he reduced government spending, giving more money to the people and companies of New Mexico, which in turn created jobs. 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat talked about "the seen and the unseen". Well, the unseen effect of high government spending certainly revealed itself in New Mexico. Spending money to promote job growth actually hurts job growth, and Johnson knows that.
However, Ron Paul is fiscally conservative too. What distinguishes Johnson is his focus on all civil liberties, returning them all to the people instead of letting the states run free like Congress does now. Johnson (like me) supports full marriage privatization, giving civil unions to all couples, male and female, and letting churches and individuals decide who is and isn't married. He also is fully pro-choice, though he does believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned, calling it "judicial legislation". And frankly, though I too support a woman's right to choose, he's probably right. That being said, I agree with Johnson that after the case is overturned, legitimate, Congressional legislation should be passed asserting that abortion is legal. (Paul disagrees, saying it should be left up to the states).
Johnson has not been getting that much attention, primarily due to Paul's influence in the primaries. So, since virtually anyone who might consider voting for Gary will instead vote for the well-known candidate in Dr. Paul, I highly doubt Johnson has any hope of winning. I am still debating whether or not I want to switch to the GOP, since I don't particularly like the party as a whole. If I were to register in Connecticut where I go to school, I could register as an Independent and still vote in the GOP primary, but given issues that occurred in last year's general election with students, I'm not sure I want to do that either. In any case, if I do switch my registration, I must decide by mid-October, since New York doesn't switch party registrations until after the following general election, and all requests must be received 21 days before. So I've got time to decide.
However, if I do vote for Johnson in the primary, I am confident that my vote will not be wasted. Even if he is totally a fringe candidate, I am still voting for a candidate who I genuinely support, just as I was doing when I supported LP candidate Warren Redlich for governor in 2010. If Paul were to eventually win the nomination, perhaps I'd vote for him over the LP candidate. Then again, perhaps I wouldn't. I really don't know yet. I'll figure that out later. For now, though, I am supporting Gary Johnson for President in 2012. I encourage anyone who cares about this country to do the same.
Note: This article previously indicated that Ron Paul co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act. Although he is a supporter of DOMA, Paul was not in Congress when it was passed. However, Paul did co-sponsor the Marriage Protection Act.