Polls have shown that Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson is attracting an extraordinarily large number of votes from millennials and also that he is taking more votes away from Hillary Clinton than from Donald Trump.
That has put liberals, including those in the mainstream press, in a quandary. Should they ignore Johnson or should they attack him? After initially deciding to ignore him, liberals have recently changed course and decided to go on the attack, no doubt owing to Johnson’s growing support among young people. In my 30 years in the libertarian movement, I have never seen so many op-eds and editorials, especially in the mainstream press, going after the Libertarian Party candidate for president.
The attacks on Johnson come in two forms: substantive and silly.
Personally, I love the substantive attacks, the ones that attack Johnson both for his own positions (which, needless to say, aren’t exactly the epitome of pure libertarianism) and for genuine libertarian positions, as reflected in the Libertarian Party platform.
For example, leftists might point out that libertarians want to abolish (not reform) such things as the income tax, Social Security, Medicare, Federal Reserve, drug war, immigration controls, public schooling, the CIA, the NSA, and the military-industrial complex and that they want to bring all U.S. troops home from the Middle East, Korea, Europe, and the rest of the world.”
Why do I love those types of substantive attacks?
One reason is because they serve as an excellent promo or advertisement for libertarianism. Even though the left brings up those positions to show people how horrible they supposedly are, there is always the possibility that someone reads those positions and says to himself, “Hmm. That’s intriguing. I wonder why libertarians take those positions. I think I’ll go check it out.”
The other reason I love those types of substantive attacks is that it is so easy to decimate them. After decades under the welfare-warfare state way of life that liberals love, Americans can see the results for themselves — crises and chaos everywhere, not to mention the much more important point — the destruction of liberty and prosperity that has come with the welfare-warfare state way of life.
The other types of attacks are the silly ones. Two come to mind: The so-called Aleppo incident — or, more accurately, the “leppo” incident — and when Johnson was recently asked to name his favorite foreign leader and was unable to do so.
These are what might be called the “pop-quiz” types of attacks — the ambushes that liberals concoct to show how knowledgeable statist candidates are and how clueless libertarians are.
I addressed the leppo (or Aleppo) incident in a blog post entitled, “I Don’t Know What a Leppo Is Either.” When one examines that incident carefully, it is clear that it was a well-crafted, cute, and silly ambush rather than a serious attempt to determine where Johnson stood on a particular issue.
Look at how the question was posed by the grave-faced panel on MSNBC: “What are you going to do about a leppo? The question was posed orally, not in writing.
When a colleague at work posed that question to me, orally, my response was the same as Johnson’s, “What the heck is a leppo?” I had no idea that he was talking about Aleppo, Syria. Once the question was clarified, Johnson responded by pointing out that U.S. interventionism is the cause of much of the death and destruction not just in Aleppo and not just in Syria but also the rest of the Middle East and Afghanistan as well.
But it’s clear that the left doesn’t want to talk about the adverse consequences of foreign intervention because that places a spotlight on Hillary Clinton’s ardent support of the U.S. national-security state’s 25-year-long killing campaign in the Middle East and Afghanistan, including the many U.S. regime-change operations in those parts of the world and, more important, Clinton’s steadfast commitment to continue the bombing, killing, assassinating, and the support for foreign dictatorships for the next 4-8 years if she is elected president.
So, the left instead focuses on: “You don’t know what a leppo (or Aleppo) is?! OMG! How can you consider yourself a credible presidential candidate if you don’t know what a leppo (or Aleppo) is?”
You can tell it was a trick question, one that obviously works only orally and not in writing, by the way the question was asked. Everyone knows that the problem of U.S.-caused death and destruction is not limited to one city in Syria or even one country in the Middle East. The death-and-destruction problem arising from U.S. interventionism is widespread.
Therefore, if a journalist is seriously interested in getting the views of a candidate on this particular issue, he would naturally ask: “What are you going to do about the death and destruction in Syria, including Aleppo?” Instead, those grave-faced MSNBC commentators asked: “What are you going to do about a leppo?
For instance, suppose I were to ask you, “What do you think should be done about the death and destruction in Hillah?” Wouldn’t that appear to you to be somewhat weird? Why limit the question to Hillah? Why not instead ask: “What do you think should be done about all the death and destruction that the U.S. national security state has inflicted on the people of Iraq, including those who live in Hillah?” Of course, if you were to respond “Where is Hillah?” I could say, “OMG! You don’t where Hillah is? I can’t believe it!”
In any event, you have to give those grave-faced MSBNC commentators credit. Even though it was silly, it was a well-crafted and effective ambush, one that went over well with American statists.
Another silly ambush was the pop quiz asking Johnson to name his favorite foreign leader. He couldn’t do it. In fact, he couldn’t name any foreign leader whatsoever. That shocked — absolutely shocked — the mainstream press.
Statists just don’t get it. Mired within their interventionist paradigm, they just don’t understand libertarianism.
One can easily understand why a statist candidate for president would want to know the names and backgrounds of all foreign leaders — not just presidents but also legislators, judges, and especially commanding generals in the armed forces of other countries.
That’s because statists stand for a governmental system — i.e., a national-security state — that is based on regime-change, coups, foreign aid, support of dictatorships, invasions, occupations, the war on communism, the war on terrorism, and other aspects of foreign interventionism. Therefore, under the paradigm of interventionism, it is obviously important to know who the leaders are in foreign countries and where they stand versus the United States. Are they pro-U.S. or pro-Russia? Which leaders are willing to accept bribes in return for coming over to our side? Which countries should be added to the regime-change list? Which people should be added to the assassination-kill list? Which countries should be invaded and occupied?
Thus, for a statist running for president, it’s makes perfectly good sense to get a detailed briefing book, and daily briefings from the CIA, NSA, and Pentagon listing and explaining all the world’s foreign leaders and taking the time to memorize them.
One can easily see why the mainstream press, which has the same interventionist mindset as Clinton and Trump, would consider this particular pop quiz to be extremely serious and important.
But not to libertarians, who support an entirely different paradigm — one that opposes foreign interventionism. In a libertarian society, no foreign leaders would be receiving U.S. bribes. There would be no assassinations. There would be no regime-change operations. No more U.S-induced coups. No more partnerships with dictatorships. No more entangling alliances.
Such being the case, why would any libertarian, including a Libertarian presidential candidate, spend his time memorizing all the leaders in foreign countries and what they stand for? For a libertarian, that’s just a ridiculous waste of time.
But let’s face it: Even the silly attacks on Gary Johnson provide libertarians with the opportunity to expose people to libertarian principles, thereby potentially bringing even more people into the libertarian movement, which leaves liberals with their quandary: Should they ignore Johnson or attack him, either substantively or silly-wise?
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