I think mistermix makes some very good points regarding a Johnson administration and the inherent handicaps of politics over reality. My point here is simply that presidents do have a great deal more influence over foreign policy than over domestic policy. For instance, I think Obama has been a pretty extraordinary president on most domestic issues. His expansion of healthcare access is the most significant liberal achievement in decades, hands down.
Two points: 1) There is no way in hell Johnson gets the nomination. So maybe this is all just mental masturbation to begin with. But 2) I think it’s important for people who care about issues like the War on Drugs, or our interventionist foreign policy to somehow make those in power listen. I like Obama, as far as politicians go. I think he means well, which is more than I can say for most of his potential 2012 opponents. But I’m not happy with a third war and I’m not happy with the drone operations in Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan. I think a lot of the bad powers that the Bush administration expanded, Obama has either expanded or at least continued. This is a problem for me.
Ditto for the drug wars.
But in many ways I think Johnson is a terrible choice for president in spite of his good policies on drugs and military intervention. I have never heard that he is a creationist and I think that’s little more than a rumor (if someone can link, then by all means…) but he’s downright radical on spending issues, on healthcare, and on a number of other issues I think are tremendously important as well that I disagree with Johnson on. The drug war and the Middle East wars are life and death issues, so they sit right at the top of my priority list – but so is healthcare, and I think people like Johnson or Paul Ryan have bad ideas for healthcare reform, ideas that could badly effect the welfare of millions of American citizens. I would prefer a liberal non-interventionist who would campaign on ending the drug war, expanding healthcare, and so forth.
So there’s no easy answers here. There’s no perfect candidates obviously, and even the ones we like for issues A and B may be horrible or just horribly disappointing on issues C and D. When it comes time to pull the lever, we make as honest a decision as we can – and often that means compromising our values in the least painful way possible. Such is politics.