Gary Johnson Won’t Spoil Romney
Much hash has been made lately of Gary Johnson taking the Libertarian Party nomination. He is probably the highest-profile candidate to run for the party in the past twenty years, thanks to his eight years of executive experience in New Mexico as a Republican, his hard-hitting libertarian principles, and the fact that, well, let’s face it: the guy is just cool.
I mean, scaling Mt. Everest? Vetoing over 750 bills? Saying weed, gay rights, and gun rights are all a-ok? That’s just not something that comes around every four years. And he’s also (relatively) young, which is always a plus. (Sorry, Ron.)
Naturally, though, a lot of people are exhibiting signs of a disease calling “Spoileritis.” A perfect example comes from a comment on Bob Barr’s Daily Caller column about Gary Johnson. Our erudite fan writes
A vote for this party is a vote for Obama. Period. Consider yourselves responsible for the destruction of this country for good!
Except there is zero evidence that this is the case.
Gary Johnson’s calls to slash 43% of military spending, end the Drug War, and most importantly, unabashedly legalize same-sex marriage, none of which are positions held by most Republicans. Instead, those positions are decidedly liberal, more on the side of Obama’s supporters. So when people go to the polls this November, it is likely that he will draw more supporters from Obama’s camp than Romney’s.
Chris Barron, chair of GOProud, the GOP’s gay and lesbian group, said the same thing in an interview with the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis:
Chris Barron, co-founder of the gay Republican group GOProud applauded Johnson’s comments, noting that this “is more evidence that the conventional wisdom — that Johnson’s votes will come from Romney – simply isn’t correct.”
“I think Johnson may end up costing Obama big time with some of his social liberal base,” Barron added.
Certainly, Gary Johnson is something of a threat to Romney on the basis of fiscal conservatism. But that’s likely because we’ve seen no evidence that Romney would actually cut government spending by any appreciable amount. Gary Johnson’s selling points are more on the fact that he’ll talk about gay rights and gun rights in the same sentence more than his general free market economic principles, although those are still a big draw.
If anyone has “spoiled” the race against Romney, it’s Romney. Doug Mataconis notes that Romney still has a major likeability gap with voters, and it’s a serious impediment in the race. He’s flip-flopped on almost every big issue, from climate change, to abortion, to gay rights; it’s hard to know what he stands for, since he seems to stand for completely different things for different people. He’s still figuring out his position on immigration, too, which he probably should have decided months ago. He caved into pressure and fired a foreign policy advisor because he was gay, and because his team failed to have the new guy vetted properly. He’s made a bunch of gaffes, from quipping about how he loves firing people and how he knows so many NFL and Nascar team owners. (Okay, maybe the latter isn’t a gaffe, but it’s not exactly a plus mark, either.) His record at Bain Capital, while actually a good thing for the economy, is not going to sit well with voters. There’s also that minor issue of Romney, you know, basically created Obamacare in Massachusetts. Let me restate that: Romney created the blueprint for the law that Republicans hate more than anything else in the universe right now. And they want him to be their candidate for the White House.
Add up all of these things and Romney is just a weak, flabby fish. The voting public doesn’t really like him all that much, from the independents who aren’t sure where he stands to even the Republican base who are only going to vote for him grudgingly. He comes across as a complete phony, a Republican John Kerry.
There’s absolutely nothing that Gary Johnson will be able to do about that. Those are all qualities that are intrinsic to the candidate, and Johnson can’t touch it. The race, by already being between the guy who created the prototype for Obamacare and the guy who created Obamacare, has been “pre-spoiled,” as Gene Healy of the Cato Institute wrote.
Johnson is much more likely to capture the votes of disgruntled Obama supporters, who are sick of the guy’s duplicity on gay rights and his disastrous, neocon-lite foreign policy, than Republicans who don’t like Romney but really really really want to boot Obama out of office. Anyone who tells you, therefore, that a vote for Johnson is a vote for Obama is a liar, a fool, a Romney campaign operative, or all three.
A vote for Johnson is a vote for Johnson, period.