I knew he supported open borders, which is Libertarianism 101 (except, oddly, within the Paul family), but I could shrug that off by reminding myself that this guy won’t get within 30 points of winning a state. He’s a protest vessel, nothing more or less. If you want to cast a vote this fall for smaller government and against authoritarianism, of which there’ll be two different flavors on the ballot in the form of the two major-party nominees, why not Johnson?
But … what if he’s not as opposed to authoritarianism as you might assume? What if he’s willing, in fact, to tolerate a little authoritarianism from the executive branch so long as it gets him to a libertarian outcome? Libertarians should be allergic to power grabs by the executive for the obvious reason that they lend themselves to concentrated authority and (usually) bigger government. If you want to slow the state down, a robust, sharply divided Congress that jealously guards its constitutional prerogatives from the president should be your ideal — even in cases where the executive happens to be acting towards an end you deem salutary. In this year of all years, admirers of Obama’s various forms of overreach should be thinking hard about how President Trump might build on his precedents. To a constitutionalist, which most mainstream libertarians claim to be, all of this is second nature.
Is Gary Johnson a constitutionalist?
THRUSH: How about Obama’s executive order, which was decried as being a great constitutional violation by the Republicans, Obama’s executive order on immigration. Did you consider that to be a violation or did you consider that a reasonable use of targeted executive power?
MR. JOHNSON: I saw it as a reasonable use, challenging Congress to action. And an untold story with regard to Obama and immigration is he’s broken up 3 million families. He has deported 3 million heads of households that have gone back to Mexico and their families have remained in the United States.
If Obama issued an executive order to the IRS demanding that they collect 10 percent more in tax from individuals than the Internal Revenue Code provides, would Johnson deem that legal? What if the order instructed the agency to collect 10 percent less tax? Would his opinion of its legality change? Because it shouldn’t. Bear in mind, Obama’s 2014 “DAPA” amnesty has already been blocked by a preliminary injunction that was upheld on review by the Fifth Circuit so Johnson had plenty of legal cover here to say that he’s troubled by Obama’s procedural approach despite the fact that he happens to agree with the policy ends. Instead he seems to endorse the bizarre legal theory pushed by some leftists that if Congress isn’t moving quickly enough for the president’s taste in enacting a policy he supports, he can go ahead and “challenge” them by enacting it himself and leaving it to Congress to overrule him if they feel strongly to the contrary. How the hell does a libertarian arrive at that model of government? The president does what he wants, and then it falls to the people’s representatives to try to muster a two-thirds majority to override his policy? What?
Ben Sasse, who said literally yesterday that he’d take a look at the Libertarian nominee this fall, sounds like he’s done looking. Me too.
Notes for October:
Johnson is pro-abortion, pro-exec overreach, bad on religious liberty & naive on national security
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 6, 2016
Between this and his support for using antidiscrimination laws to coerce business owners into providing services in circumstances that violate their religious conscience, I don’t know what the point of voting for Johnson is even as a protest. If he’s not going to stand for constitutional rights and separation of powers, I can write in a name just as easily. How about “Auntie Authoritarian”? Or “Mexican Judge”?
If you believe Gravis Marketing’s latest poll of Utah, Johnson’s at 16 percent there with Trump leading Hillary 29/26. Maybe I spoke too soon about him not getting within 30 points of winning anywhere.