Okay, as is often the case I have done some serious thinking after getting some very good push-back in the comments and from some of the other authors here and elsewhere over my Gary Johnson posts. First of all, I think it’s important to note that I did not say I would support a Johnson candidacy, only that I’m tempted to support the most viable anti-war candidate that comes around. Probably the best argument against supporting Johnson is this: supporting a candidate based on a single-issue alliance is not as effective as supporting a cause.
It’s also more dangerous because if that cause becomes too embodied by that candidate, then the rest of his ideas – like abolishing the Fed, for instance – can then become conflated with the good cause as well. And so you weaken and undermine those ideas by associating them too closely with the bad ideas of the candidate you supported. You see this with Ron Paul, who has very good and decent positions on foreign intervention and the security state, but who is way off in crazy Austrian land when it comes to economics and goldbuggery.
It’s important to build up support for these ideas from the bottom up rather than from the top down. If you want a more anti-war, civil-liberties-based liberalism than you have to argue for it, work with activists to build up grass-roots support for those policies, and vote for local and state candidates who support those ideas. Making a deal with the devil may be a dramatic and appealing way to register one’s dissent, but it’s more than likely counter-productive. A show of support for Johnson’s anti-drug-war policies is just as easily taken as support for slashing public support for healthcare and education, or for busting public sector unions. As someone who really thinks it’s high-time for some form of single-payer health insurance in this country (and the ACA for now) and who supports public education against this constant barrage of corporate reforms, a vote for Johnson would be a vote against things I care deeply about.
The trick, then, is making a vote for Obama go as far as possible. Because I am fundamentally opposed to his foreign policies also, and to his escalation of immigrant deportations and medical marijuana busts and the ratcheting up of the TSA. I think you can support a candidate and still be a vocal and persistent critic. So that is what I will aim to do.