The Libertarian movement is one of the most exciting political revolutions in history. But who will be the one to carry the torch of Libertarian ideals into the future?
Ron Paul has become incredibly popular over the last few years, garnering support from not only young voters, but also disaffected Democrats and Republicans who are tired of the way that Washington is operating. However, it seems all but certain that he will not win the Republican nomination. With Paul’s campaign slowing, another libertarian has seen increasing popularity; former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. If you’re a libertarian, you may wonder which is the best choice for you. I’ll try to break down each candidate and showcase their subtle differences.
Ron Paul is a medical doctor and a 12-term congressman from Texas. Throughout his political career, he has been a strong advocate for Austrian Economics, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and reduced government spending. He serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. He is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology. He has earned the nickname “Dr. No” for refusing to vote for any legislation that is not specifically authorized by the Constitution.
Gary Johnson started the one of the largest construction companies in New Mexico before running for Governor as a Republican in 1994. Johnson brought his business experience to government, making decisions based on analysis and assessment rather than political ideology. As Governor, Johnson made liberal use of his veto power by striking down any legislation that was not constitutional. During his tenure, he cut taxes a total of 14 times without raising them once. After his second term, Governor Johnson retired; but not without leaving New Mexico as one of only four states in the country with a balanced budget.
Paul and Johnson are both strong advocates of personal liberty, limited government, and peace. While their ideology is similar, they have different approaches on certain key issues.
Both men feel the need for reduced taxes. Ron Paul’s approach to this is a repeal of the 16th Amendment, abolishing the IRS, doing away with capital gains taxes, Social Security taxes, gratuity taxes, and offering tax credits for things like education and health care. Gary Johnson, on the other hand, is a supporter of the Fair Tax, which strives to simplify the tax code and create a system that is fairer to low-income Americans.
On immigration policy, Ron Paul advocates an end to birthright citizenship in an effort to reduce the incentives for foreigners to circumvent the system by having their children in the U.S. Paul believes in zero amnesty for illegals currently residing here. Johnson’s approach is more lenient, proposing changes that allow more opportunities for foreigners to obtain a work visa, and offering a two year grace period for any current aliens to file for a visa.
The most striking difference between the candidates is on abortion. Strongly pro-life, Dr. Paul would repeal Roe v. Wade and define life as beginning at conception by passing a so-called “Sanctity of Life Act”. Gary Johnson would leave government out of the issue, and supports a woman’s right to choose when it comes to the decision to abort.
The Bottom Line:
These two men are both proponents of libertarianism, and offer a viable third option to the candidates chosen by the two main political parties. While Ron Paul is seen as an unwavering champion of ideals, Gary Johnson comes off as a common-sense politician who would use his business expertise and executive experience to govern effectively.