These are grim times to be a conservative. The major parties feature Hillary Clinton, and a loose cannon Know Nothing who not long ago donated money to…Hillary Clinton. If ever there was a year for conservatives to consider the Libertarian ticket, this is it.
Except the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is tacking hard to the left! He is vocally pro choice on abortion and has departed from libertarian principles on the gay wedding cake issue. And he chose former RINO governor Bill Weld as his running mate.
Where’s Ron Paul when you really need him?
I do, however, see method to his madness. Governor Johnson is going hard after the Burned Bernie voters. Polls indicate he is getting them. Investors Business Daily writes that Johnson is leading all the other candidates among voters 18-24 years old. This is useful for conservatives for two reasons:
- Do you really want an entire generation to get in the habit of voting socialist? (Trump has almost no appeal to the youth vote.)
- Aggressive triangulation is the key to beating Hillary. It takes a broad coalition to win an election. Appealing to half the Republican Party loses big time. A coalition consisting of Burned Bernie voters + Never Trump Republicans + independents who want a nice guy for President can win outright.
You could say that Johnson is taking the Never Trump vote for granted. Or, you could say that he’s assuming we are more politically sophisticated than the young civil libertarians who voted for Bernie.
So, should we hold our noses and join this potential coalition? Should we sacrifice Christian values in order simplify the tax system and cut the size of government?
The answer is no, we shouldn’t sacrifice Christian values. The answer is also yes, we should join the coalition. Despite the serious flaws thus listed, Gary Johnson is still the most Christian value friendly candidate! Johnson has the potential to be the most family-friendly President in a century.
This is not obvious. Please give me time to explain.
For starters, economic issues are family values issues. We have an entire generation deferring marriage (and begging for student loan forgiveness) because they can’t get their careers launched after college. When mass quantities of young adults defer marriage, sex before marriage becomes the norm. This makes legal abortion appealing. (It’s going to take far more than a change in the Supreme Court to put an end to abortion.)
Gary Johnson is a proponent of the Fair Tax. The Fair Tax would simplify business enormously. This by itself should get the economy humming again. The Fair Tax also implies an open-ended tax deferral for those who save money. Today, you get a tax deferral for saving money for retirement, medical expenses, or college for your children. Under the Fair Tax you can also defer taxes when you save for a down payment on a house, wedding expenses, or time off to take care of a baby.
In other words, the Fair Tax encourages the young to save for marriage vs. deferring marriage and living a hedonistic lifestyle instead.
But there are bigger pro-family components to the Johnson program, and they come from his lefty-looking positions.
The Fair Tax includes a prebate, a small citizen dividend to replace the progressive components of the income tax. In an interview with Basic Income Earth Network he indicated a willingness to up the prebate into a full-fledged universal basic income to replace the welfare system.
This is huge! The breakdown of the American family began with the poor. That’s because the War on the Family began with poor families. It started with slavery – which Republicans ended. Then Democrats resumed the war with need-based federal welfare programs. When you target aid to single mothers, you penalize poor mothers who marry.
Milton Friedman pointed out the perverse incentives decades ago and suggested a Negative Income Tax. Charles Murray has written books on the subject, including In Our Hands, where he advocates a Universal Basic Income (albeit with aggressive clawbacks).
A straightforward basic income would work with a national sale tax, or it could work with a combination of a flatter income tax coupled with some revenue tariffs and excises. We can have a middle class dominated society, complete with middle class family values, without a massive welfare bureaucracy or mounds of red tape.
And there is yet more family-friendly goodness. Gary Johnson’s signature issue is legal marijuana. This is pro family. Today, the government sends parents to jail and children to foster care as part of the Drug War. Yes, this makes sense for some of the harder drugs. When parents are so strung out on crack or methamphetamines that they neglect to feed their children, government intervention is a good idea.
But marijuana is a reasonably family-friendly drug. Stoners stock their refrigerators, or at least order a pizza in emergency situations. And stoners can sit down with the kids watching Gilligan’s Island reruns – and like it.
Ending the War on Pot means fewer people sent to prison — that is, fewer people forced to witness or even participate in homosexual activities. This more than offsets forcing bakers to deliver wedding cakes to gay weddings. A lot more.
Finally, Gary Johnson is the viable peace candidate in this race. Long tours of duties in foreign lands are hard on families.
Also, peace making is a Christian virtue. Look it up.
So yes, despite major imperfections, Gary Johnson is the best conservative option in this race.