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Gary Johnson

The possibility of a Gary Johnsonpresidential bid is an exciting one, and I say that as a New Mexican who didn’t like some of the major projects he undertook as governor. I can say that I would happily support his candidacy were he to pursue the Republican nomination. That’s part of the problem Gary Johnson faces in a GOP nominating contest: he appeals to people like me and Matt Welch, who are not remotely representative of the Republican primary electorate. For one thing, I’m not a Republican. Not even Ron Paul’s 2008 bid could make me change my registration to vote in the state primary, and I doubt I would change it for the next election.

The more significant difficulty Johnson faces is that all of the reasons why I would want to support him (e.g., his views on civil liberties, foreign policy, the drug war, etc.) are the reasons why he would be persona non grata for much of the GOP. Like Ron Paul’s run in 2008, a Johnson campaign would be refreshingly oriented toward ideas and policy, and it would show many of the leading candidates to be hypocrites and frauds when it comes to protecting constitutional liberties, balancing budgets, and reducing spending. More than that, it would offer libertarians and traditional conservatives a decent alternative, and it might force some healthy and much-needed debates on the security/warfare state, foreign policy, and the drug war. All of these are interrelated with one another, and all of them are huge blind spots for most Republican politicians. Johnson has enormous credibility in challenging the party line on all of them. I have no illusions that Johnson would win the nomination, but he might cause some Republicans to re-think their positions and he might bring some people to take libertarian and small-government conservative arguments more seriously.

P.S. His take on speed limits is excellent.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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