Why Gary Johnson can be kind of attractive to Republicans

There’s a big feeling amongst Republicans completely alienated by Donald Trump that Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson doesn’t like them. AP seemed nonplussed by Johnson’s “I next side with Bernie Sanders at 73%” line, without looking at the most important part of Johnson’s comment. Via The Hill (emphasis mine):

“Now, that’s the side of Bernie that has to do with pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, let’s stop with the military interventions, that there is crony capitalism, that government really isn’t fair when it comes to this level playing field, legalize marijuana. We come to a T in the road when it comes to economics. I would really argue that if we absolutely had a fair system of economics, that free markets, that we would do a lot better than going down the path of socialism.”

The economic and anti-cronyism comments are something conservatives should be willing to get behind. Republicans and conservatives are supposed to be for free markets, making sure the government doesn’t pick winners and losers, and avoiding the path down the socialistic slavery. The 2009 Tea Party protests were supposed to be about rampart government spending, foolish bailouts, and the government picking winners and losers. Johnson agrees with getting the government out of business, and this is something conservatives should be willing to get behind and endorse with great exuberance. There are certainly Republicans out there who won’t support it, but they’re mostly the ones who support cronytastic things like the Ex-Im Bank.

I know what you’re about to say, “But, Taylor, what about social issues and the fact Johnson says he’s pro-choice and pro-marriage equality?” This is obviously going to concern social conservatives until they look at Johnson’s actual viewpoints on the issue. When it comes to abortion, Johnson wrote on his website he doesn’t believe the government should fund abortions at all:

As Governor, Johnson never advocated abortion or taxpayer funding of it. However, Gov. Johnson recognizes that the right of a woman to choose is the law of the land today, and has been for several decades. That right must be respected, and ultimately he believes this is a very personal and individual decision. He feels that each woman must be allowed to make decisions about her own health and well-being.

This means Johnson might be okay with a bill defunding Planned Parenthood, which is something Republicans have been pushing for the last year, under the idea it’s not the government’s job to fund health care. He wouldn’t sign a bill getting rid of abortion (although he did ban late term abortions while New Mexico governor), but shouldn’t social conservatives be okay with the government not spending money on abortions or health care in general? The country is $20T in debt (and rising by the second). Johnson would at least slow that growth down.

As for being pro-gay marriage, Johnson’s belief is the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all. Again, from his website:

Gary Johnson believes government should be truly limited — limited in the way the Founders envisioned. Responsible adults should be free to marry whom they want, arm themselves if they want, make their own decisions about their bodies, and lead their personal lives as they see fit — as long as no harm is done to others. And they should be able to do so without unconstitutional scrutiny by the NSA, the ATF, the DEA or any other government agency.

There are going to be social conservatives who disagree with this stance, and Johnson has to realize it’s going to take a lot of work to truly get the government “out of” marriage. But this shows Johnson believes in personal freedom, even if his detractors, like Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney, think otherwise

In January, for instance, Johnson said he would make it a federal crime for women to wear the Burqa, the full-body covering worn by women in certain strains of Islam. Johnson recanted a day later, while continuing his warnings about the threat of Sharia — Islamic law — in the U.S.

This spring, Johnson pushed aside freedom of conscience. When asked in an Oregon debate about laws and lawsuits requiring caterers to participate in gay weddings, Johnson took the big-government side — for coerced baking in the name of gay rights. When later asked about this anti-liberty view, Johnson made the standard liberal conflation between selling off-the-shelf cupcakes to a gay customer (which is straight-up discrimination against a person) and refusal to participate in a ceremony (which is a freedom of conscience issue, a freedom of association issue, and often a free speech issue).

There’s a context issue to the entire burqa ban, which Johnson explained to Reason:

I answered the question in the context of the fact that, under Sharia law, women have no choice but to wear the burqa, and live under a system of law that not only allows, but condones, abuse of women. In that context, I stated that banning the full-face burqa, as was done in France, would be a reasonable step toward preventing signs of abuse from being hidden. My response was not about telling women what they can and cannot wear, but about protecting them from harm under a brutal ideology under which women have nothing resembling equal rights.

However, having had time to consider, my response was wrong…

Johnson’s comments seem rather logical, and don’t appear to be a hatred of religion. The best way to probably get women out of horrible relationships is encouraging them to speak out and seek help when they’re in a battered relationship (and also arresting those who physically hurt them). A law banning sharia law or the burqa would be ridiculous, just like Dallas’ consideration of a saggy pants bans ten years ago.

As for his comments on the “Jewish baker, Nazi cake” here’s his explanation.

The simple answer to that question is, whether all like it or not, U.S. law has recognized the principle of public accommodation for more than 100 years: The principle that, when a business opens its doors to the public, that business enters into an implied contract to serve ALL of the public. Further, when that business voluntarily opens its doors, the owners voluntarily agree to adhere to applicable laws and regulations — whether they like those laws or not.

That’s actually from Section Two of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Title Three of the American with Disabilities Act, so all Johnson is doing is saying, “look the law says this and we have to obey it.” The constitutionality of these laws is still under debate, and will be for decades to come. I personally disagree with Johnson’s definition of what “public accommodation” means, but I can see where he’s coming from in his stance. The only way people are going to get the law changed is to pass a law overriding it (or a favorable Supreme Court decision).

There are going to be people pointing at his mostly non-interventionist stances on foreign policy and the “I don’t know,” comment regarding World War I and World War II as reasons to not support him. I actually like Johnson’s answer because it was a ridiculous question to begin with. It’s 2016, not 1945 and deciding what was right or what wasn’t right over 70 years later for WW2 and 100 years for WW1 makes no sense. Johnson’s own media team told this to Reason. It’s not going to be something which convinces the “Team America: World Police” crowd, but that’s fine. If that’s your key policy, and how you decide every election, then I can understand why you wouldn’t want to vote for Johnson. If you believe the government should be involved in social issues, then I can understand why you wouldn’t vote for Johnson. But the ones who take freedom and liberty as a whole, and are interested in economic freedom and trying to stem the tide of the largess of government, then Johnson might be your man.

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