Gary Johnson & Civil Liberties

For what it’s worth, yesterday’s post on Ron Paul and the debate he has sparked in the progressive blogosphere focused on the fact that Paul was the only major party candidate holding positions traditionally held by liberals regarding civil liberties, war and peace, domestic surveillance, and drug policy. While this is true, Gary Johnson, the libertarian Republican Governor of New Mexico turned Libertarian presidential candidate, is in fact better than Paul and without the racist, anti-worker, anti-Semitic baggage of Ron Paul. The ACLU just rated Johnson higher than not only Paul, but Barack Obama, in their civil liberties report card (PDF).

Johnson is not a major party candidate, despite his attempt to run for the Republican nomination. He was functionally shut out of existence by the media and state Republican party’s which blocked his participation in all but one primary debate. I don’t know if Johnson will be a viable third party candidate. I assume he won’t, but could be wrong.

As I pointed out yesterday, voting is not locked into a binary option. Johnson will be on the ballot in many places and if a liberal was inclined to vote for Ron Paul for reasons related to civil liberties and war and peace, Johnson would likely be a more palatable option. As long as Paul is raising conflicts within liberal priorities at this point in time, Johnson should not be excluded from being a foil for the questions about liberalism being raised by people like Matt Stoller and Glenn Greenwald. This is, after all, not about electability, but ideology.

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