As a resident of New Mexico, I am familiar with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party standard bearer, who used to be the Governor of the state in which I currently reside. And while I do believe Johnson would make a better president than Donald Trump―heck, anyone would make a better president than Donald Trump, even Mickey Mouse, and he’s not even real!―I am still confounded as to why so many progressive millennials are flocking over to support the third-party candidate.
This, from an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, last week:
In a four-way contest with Trump, Johnson and Green Party Nominee Jill Stein, Hillary Clinton commanded just 46 percent support, with 26 percent for Trump, and 18 percent for Johnson and 5 percent for Stein. In every poll that has broken down its respondents by age, Johnson’s level of support among the young is several times higher than among their elders.
According to this poll, many young people―who tend to vote Democrat over Republican―are voting for Gary Johnson. I’d like to know what it is about Mr. Johnson, specifically, that draws so many young progressive voters over to his side.
For one thing, Mr. Johnson, an unabashed Libertarian, is much closer to Republicans than progressives like Bernie Sanders on so many issues.
True, he seems to be very cautious about getting America involved in more war, which is commendable. He’s pro gay marriage and has a very liberal streak on some issues. Additionally, he’s pro-Marijuana and doesn’t seem to have many airs about him, which is cool, and which even makes me like Mr. Johnson, to an extent.
But regardless of all that, Johnson’s still a small-government politician. On the issue of Social Security―an issue Mr. Sanders is very passionate about―Johnson’s advocacy of privatization sounds more like the plans of Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson than the super-progressive plans of Bernie Sanders, by proposing an age increase for Social Security retirement benefits, and a possible elimination of the entire social program.
“Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government,” according to the platform. “Libertarians would phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
Mr. Sanders’ plans for Social Security were much different, according to Forbes:
According to Bernie Sanders proposal, Social Security should be expanded nearly across the board for all Americans paying into the system...the overall changes he proposes would enable Social Security benefit payments to expand by an average of $65 a month, adjusted for inflation. This totals an increase by $780 a year on average, which is a large increase when you consider the average S.S. benefit is roughly 16,000 per year.
Maybe many progressive millennials who have run over to Johnson aren’t concerned about Social Security. Maybe they dismiss his views on the program as “down the road.”
Yet Mr. Johnson is against another “big government” program many millennials have used and taken advantage of: Free college tuition. This, from Bustle.com:
While Sanders campaigned on a platform that included policies aimed at reducing student loan debt and making college tuition free, Johnson wants to eliminate the Department of Education and abolish guaranteed government student loans altogether, thereby placing the cost of a higher education wholly on the shoulders of students and their families.
The candidates’ dissimilarities don’t end there. Sanders is on the record stating numerous times that he wants to raise the minimum wage. Gary Johnson? In 1999, as Governor of New Mexico, Mr. Johnson vetoed a bill which would have raised the minimum wage from $4.25 and hour to $5.65, and according to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, titled What Gary Johnson Really Stands for, Mr. Johnson, if elected president, plans on abolishing the minimum wage, altogether.
Bernie Sanders is a great man, I am convinced. Gary Johnson might be a great man, too, but he and Mr. Sanders couldn’t be further apart, politically speaking.
Politically speaking, Gary Johnson is the anti-Sanders.
And I sure hope Sanders supporters remember that, come election day.