Gary Johnson Speaks, Columbia’s Libertarians Listen

GaryJohnson
Via BWOG, Columbia Student News: 

When the president of the Columbia Libertarians introduced Gary Johnson last night, she described him as a man who believes in “liberalism in its truest sense.” This might sound strange, considering Gary Johnson was the Libertarian presidential candidate in 2012 (and is likely to be the Libertarian candidate again in 2016.) However, throughout his talk, which was cosponsored by the Columbia Libertarians and Columbia Voting Week, Mr. Johnson proved that his standpoints and ideas are much more liberal than one might expect, and explained the flaws he sees in America’s current two-party system. […]

Other positions Mr. Johnson mentioned were the importance of a balanced budget, a drastic decrease in military spending, legalization of marijuana, relaxation of drug sentencing laws, education reform, marriage equality, and a woman’s right to choose. Most of this politician’s social policies can be summarized in one statement: “I don’t care what you do with your life as long as it doesn’t affect mine or anyone else’s.”

So, this guy seems to have a fairly good grasp on what many Americans want from a presidential candidate: fiscally conservative, socially liberal, with an emphasis on individual rights and freedoms.

Read the rest of the article here.

12 thoughts on “Gary Johnson Speaks, Columbia’s Libertarians Listen

  1. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Most of this politician’s social policies can be summarized in one statement: “I don’t care what you do with your life as long as it doesn’t affect mine or anyone else’s.”

    That probably sounds appealing to many people, and I sorta know what he means. But it’s not an accurate description of libertarianism.

    Really, that statement can describe any and every political philosophy, including communism and fascism, because every action I take, or refrain from taking, affects others’ lives.

    If I choose to buy a foreign-made product, as opposed to an American-made one, that affects American workers and business owners.

    Abortion, healthy or unhealthy diets, driving a car, owning a gun, doing drugs, how we earn or spend money, pornography, how we define marriage, “offensive speech,” — everything AFFECTS the lives of others. You’re familiar with the Butterfly Effect, are you not?

    Progressives and conservatives are always justifying regulations because X affects Y, or even runs the risk of affecting Y.

    A better description of libertarianism might be: “I don’t care what you do with your life as long as it doesn’t INFRINGE THE LEGITIMATE RIGHTS of mine or anyone else’s.”

    Which is still incomplete, because then we must define what are legitimate rights, as opposed to mere wishes and desires.

    Libertarianism is an easy sell when it’s dummied down — but you end up selling a faux libertarianism, attracting people who don’t really believe in libertarianism. One must then do the heavy lifting of educating the new recruits on what libertarianism actually is.

  2. Richard Winger

    If one uses the link to see the interview in that student newspaper, one sees comments on the website of that student newspaper. One of the comments claims the article is wrong to say that the Libertarian Party is in the lawsuit. However, the Libertarian Party National Committee is in the lawsuit; it is a plaintiff. I tried to comment, making that point, but comments must be moderated and even though I put up my comment 16 hours ago, it hasn’t shown up yet. So people reading the student newspaper on-line will be misinformed, if they read the inaccurate comment and if my comment never shows up setting the record straight.

  3. Steve M

    Richard, Reading the comments my conclusion is that you didn’t include enough juvenile insults to make it past the sensors.

  4. Wang Tang-Fu

    Root’s Teeth

    What wording would you use if you had to summarize it in a concise sentence of about that length?

  5. Dave

    Have to admit I hate the photo. Reminds me of that famous one of the woman looking forlorn during the depression.

  6. langa

    I agree with RTAA. Trying to “sell” libertarianism by distilling it into oversimplified, bumper sticker slogans is a waste of time. The market for glib, simplistic platitudes has already been cornered by the two major parties.

  7. langa

    What wording would you use if you had to summarize it in a concise sentence of about that length?

    How about this one: You have the right to live your life any way you choose, so long as you don’t engage in force or fraud against anyone else.

    Oh no, wait, I forgot. Apparently, that’s just a bunch of philosophical mumbo jumbo that serves to bore/confuse everyone except philosophy majors and anarchists.

  8. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    langa: How about this one: You have the right to live your life any way you choose, so long as you don’t engage in force or fraud against anyone else.

    That’s better. Although, unfortunately, our language has been so debased, so many words have lost their meaning, that no one-line platitude would work for long. If a platitude becomes popular, it will soon be subverted into its opposite meaning.

    For instance, people on the Left often misuse the word “violence.” I’ve heard them claim that “hate speech” is “violence.”

    And doubting a minority’s job qualifications has been called “hate speech.” (e.g., “I wonder if Bill got this job because of his qualifications, or to fill some quota?”)

    So, by the logic of the Left, doubting Bill’s qualifications is “violence.”

    I similarly expect the Left to subvert the meanings of such words as “force” and “fraud.”

    Just like Bush subverted the word “freedom” to mean war and violence.

    We can search for popular platitudes. But to truly convey libertarian ideas, to convert people into true libertarians, requires effort and education. No simple bromide will suffice. No short cuts.

  9. Wang Tang-Fu

    “I agree with RTAA. Trying to “sell” libertarianism by distilling it into oversimplified, bumper sticker slogans is a waste of time. The market for glib, simplistic platitudes has already been cornered by the two major parties.”

    When you are doing a Q&A, media interview, or talking to passers by on the street, you can’t refer them to a thousand page book. You have to have a quick and easy answer. “Find out on your own and come back when you think you are ready” is an answer, I guess, but not a very good one.

    “You have the right to live your life any way you choose, so long as you don’t engage in force or fraud against anyone else.”

    Doesn’t address responsive, retaliatory or preventive force.

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