What’s Wrong with Gary Johnson?

There are two ways I might be tempted to answer this question.

One is to say that, in light of his most recent ‘Aleppo-gate’ gaffe especially, what’s wrong with Gary Johnson is simply…well, Gary Johnson. The guy might be nice and all – and is clearly physically fit – but, yikes. To his credit, he asks questions when he’s not sure of what something is. To his detriment, those questions have included “Who’s Harriet Tubman?” and “What is Aleppo?” And there’s not really a lot of coming back from that as a presidential (slash leader of the Free World) candidate. (I would think, at least.)

The other way to answer is to frame the question more broadly – so as to speculate that what’s wrong with Gary Johnson, most critically, is not so much that he’s prone to embarrassing gaffes, but that his platform is build on perilously rickety legs.

A friend of mine mentioned recently to me that he was planning to vote for Johnson this November. “Why?” I asked.

“Because he has a combination of all the best ideas,” he said.

My friend liked that Johnson, in keeping with many millennial voters, trended toward socially liberal views. He loved that he also remained a fiscal conservative, aligning with Republican sentiments on that front. And you know – blah blah blah. I’m fairly ambivalent on all that. I hear about it frequently these days, largely from youngish Republicans with socially conscious leanings (anecdotally speaking, of course).

Where I really take issue is with Johnson’s — and by extension, the Libertarian Party’s — and by further extension, most libertarian-identifying adherents’ — support for non-interventionism. To my mind, this is not only ridiculous, but dangerous as a guiding political position.

I don’t mean for this to become a full-fledged critique of libertarianism. The criticisms are already out there, take them or leave them. But in this one particular area — which is in many ways also a cornerstone of libertarian ideology — I must voice my skepticism.

Any form of isolationism, even when framed in the softened terminology of “non-interventionism,” is untenable in the current global climate. Humanitarian concerns have become even more pressing in the face of more and more sophisticated weapons of war. They cannot (or at a minimum should not) be ignored. Even setting aside humanitarian concerns, we as a nation would be foolish — if not bat$#+% crazy — to eschew all foreign alliances in today’s world.

The United States may be somewhat isolated physically speaking, but figuratively? Our existence is undeniably connected, and grows ever more so by the day. Technology, industry, economy, and even — as libertarians like to so often rely upon, morality — all require us to recognize that shutting ourselves off from the rest of the world isn’t just impractical; it’s wrong.

So what’s wrong with Gary Johnson? A lot of things, probably. But perhaps most of all, he’s fundamentally out of touch — and voluntarily so. For a U.S. presidential candidate, that’s pretty alarming.