Longtime readers of this space may remember the long-running feature "Libertarian Saturday" that went away after the 2008 elections. It's been an awfully long time, but with another election in the offing, I thought I'd take a peek around some of my old haunts and see what is going on.
There is a Libertarian Presidential Candidate, by the name of Gary Johnson
. Mr. Johnson was a Republican governor of New Mexico prior to my once-preferred Presidential candidate of Bill Richardson. Let's see how he did:
*Left office with New Mexico as one of the only four states in the country with a balanced budget
*Left New Mexico with a budget surplus
*Used Line Item Veto thousands of times to trim the budget
*Vetoed 750 bills during his time in office; more than all other governors combined
*Cut over 1,200 government jobs without firing anyone
*Created more than 20,000 new jobs
*First New Mexico Governor to challenge education status quo and propose statewide voucher program
*Restored State General Fund reserves to more than $222 million from a low of $28.1 million
*Limited annual state budget growth to 5.0% during eight years in office
*Cut taxes 14 times while never raising them—a first for New Mexico
*Vetoed 32% of the total number of bills submitted for his signature
But that's all in the past. Presidents usually run on what they're. going to do in the future, and of course Mr. Johnson has an extensive list of position papers.
I'll take a look at just one or two that are important this time around. Unfortunately, the Libertarians are part of the Repeal Obamacare!
When President Obama first called for health care reform, he talked about reducing costs and increasing access to care. That sounded good.
But, by the time President Obama and Congress were finished with the Affordable Care Act, we ended up with unprecedented government mandates, tax increases, and a federal intrusion into the marketplace like none we have ever seen. The result: Higher insurance costs, job-killing regulations, and no evidence that anyone will enjoy improved health care.
Reduced costs and better service are what a free, functional marketplace will provide – if the government stays out of the way. Health care is no exception. Competition, price transparency, and the innovation that will result from a robust marketplace will accomplish the fundamental goals of affordability and access in ways the government cannot possibly accomplish.
Looking over foreign policy, I like a lot of what I read on the top-level blurb. (Admittedly, this is what initially attracted me to the party long ago. There are more specifics on the website.
Maintaining a strong national defense is the most basic of the federal government’s responsibilities. However, building schools, roads, and hospitals in other countries are not among those basic obligations. Yet that is exactly what we have been doing for much of the past 10 years.
Given trillion-dollar deficits, America simply cannot afford to be engaged in foreign policy programs that are not clearly protecting U.S. interests. There is nation-building and rebuilding to be done right here at home.
Our military should remain the most potent force for good on Earth. To do this, we should resort to military action as the last option and only as provided in the Constitution.
Finally and curiously, since it's the biggest issue this time around, the Libertarians have very little to say
about jobs and the economy.
Americans are more concerned than ever before about the future of our economy, and those concerns are well-founded. As a nation, we simply can't afford to continue borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar we spend. Balancing the budget will mean making some serious changes in Washington, but these will be the corrections America needs to remain a free, prosperous, and secure nation.
There's plenty more, but of course none of it has ever reached the mainstream. In 2008, there was the strongest and best chance to get third parties more exposure. Unfortunately, the ham-fisted leadership of candidate Bob Barr did more damage to the party than even George Bush could, and Libertarians have been on the decline ever since. The two things that have been barriers to third parties remain...the twin issues of ballot access and debate access. The Libertarians always write letters
, but nothing ever seems to come of it.
But again...perhaps there is hope. The Republicans seem hell-bent on transforming themselves into the party of religious extremists. If they are successful in destroying their history and heading for the fringe this time...maybe a proper third party could be poised to rise from obscurity and become relevant.
No less than the GOP itself once did this, about 150 years ago.