Gary Johnson – Bleeding Heart Libertarian


I don’t always vote in presidential elections. And when I do, I don’t kid myself into thinking that my vote is going to make any measurable difference on the outcome. When I vote, I vote in order to express my principles. But only when I can find a candidate whose principles I admire. And that’s pretty rare.

Enter Gary Johnson. Not only is he a sweet, likable guy. Not only is he one of the only presidential candidates the Libertarian Party has ever put forward with serious executive experience.  He’s also, and more importantly, the only candidate for president on the ballot on all fifty states who

  • opposes bombing Iran
  • wants to bring an end to the war on drugs
  • wants to bring our troops home from Afghanistan now
  • supports the immediate repeal of the PATRIOT Act and the National Defense Authorization Act
  • supports marriage equality as a fundamental constitutional right
  • supports the abolition of the Federal Reserve and legal tender laws, and the establishment of a competitive market in currencies
  • is serious about fighting crony capitalism.

These are policy positions that should resonate with libertarians. But they’re also positions that, I think, should resonate with anybody who’s concerned about the freedom and welfare of the least-advantaged in society. The cases of government injustice that Gary is fighting against are ones that are especially hurtful to the poor and the socially and politically marginalized. That’s a message worth fighting for. At the very least, it’s a message that we ought to be let heard in the national debates.

Gary was kind enough to model a BHL t-shirt before his speech at the P.A.U.L. Festival this past weekend. I think it must have inspired him because that speech is one of the best I’ve ever seen him give. If you still need another reason to support him, check it out below.




  • Hume22

    But, of course, he’s a politician . . .

    • And this guy is not. I don’t know about you, but I know who I’d rather have being associated with the name “libertarian.”

      • Dave

        He’s pretty weak on policy specifics. What’s he going to do after he abolishes the Fed?

        • martinbrock

          He advocates competing, private currencies. Many economists have specific theories for how competing currencies can work. I don’t expect these specifics from a politician. A politician only needs to remove the legal impediments. I don’t want him to design the alternative. I don’t want a single alternative at all. I want a choice.

          Spanish silver was the most common currency in the colonies before the revolution and after the revolution, and it was still legal tender in the U.S. until the Civil War. Today, I expect electronic currencies to predominate without a statutory monopoly.

  • angus

    Matt, he’s no longer on the ballot in Oklahoma

    • This true that Gary is not on the ballot in the Peoples Republic of Oklahoma. Nor is he on the ballot in the Peoples Republic of China for that matter.

  • Gabe

    He should have run for Senate.

    • Liberty Boy

      Why? Because you’re so afraid of Obama you’re going to acquiesce and vote for Romney?

      • brotio


  • Jodpur

    He was going great until he called for the abolition of the federal reserve and the IRS. This is the sort of absurdity that gives libertarianism a bad name.

    • ben

      Because everyone knows that there has never been and can be no life on this planet without the Fed and IRS existing?

      • Jodpur

        no, because you couldn’t do it.
        IRS–you could certainly cut taxes and loopholes and make up for the loss through a VAT (that’s wise). But you could never cover the entirety of the gov’t’s cots on a VAT.
        Defending the Fed is a bigger issue.

        • ben

          “But you could never cover the entirety of the gov’t’s cots on a VAT.”

          Well, that totally depends on the size of government spending… 😀

          Anyways, I agree that it could not be done within one term of election.
          But then again Gary Johnson promised no such thing, did he?

          As far as I remember, he merely noted that he was the only of the three candidates who would sign such a bill at all.

          • Jodpur

            Fair enough. You could possibly do it over a very long term. But even a very minimal state today would need that Value Added tax to be massive. (50%? 75%?)
            I find that we libertarians too often engage in unhealthy utopian thinking as if we could simply craft a world fitting our ideals–in this sense we commit the error that we always attribute to social engineers.

          • Obama Romney plan is not tax it is to borrow borrow borrow. Not sure that is the better plan?

          • Damien S.

            The existing Federal state would take a VAT that was maybe 22% of the paid price, or 28% of the pre-tax price, I think.

        • good_in_theory

          A VAT still needs to be collected by some sort of tax-collecting association that operates within the borders of the United States… some sort of internal revenue service, as it were.

        • Well the US does have unlimited credit at the privately own Federal Reserve Banks and both Obama and Romney plan on borrowing at least $5 Trillion more from them over the next 4 years. So as long as the Master Card and Visa have UNLIMITED lines of credit I guess we will be ok?

    • SimpleMachine88

      Yeah, this whole abolishing the Fed thing is ridiculous, and what’s really put me off the Paul/Johnson group. I have no intention of voting for a new-age Andrew Jackson.

      • Sean II

        Me, I’m much more frightened by that massive clone army of new-age Alexander Hamiltons and Henry Clays. They’re everywhere!

      • Cory

        The Fed is a terrible institution, and despite Milton Friedman’s defense of it, it should be recognized now as a bread and butter libertarian (and Libertarian) position to allow currency competition.

        How can you support markets without competition? A government monopoly on the creation of money is a terrible, terrible idea.

        • Jodpur

          But you need some sort of a standard. The ‘end the fed’ folks just want the gold standard, which is basically a monopoly that is uncontrolled (save by fluctuations in the mining industry). I don’t see how it is much of a gain for liberty.

          • Gordon Brooks

            Not everyone who calls for an end to the Fed proposes either competing currencies or the gold standard. The Constitution gives the right to coin money to Congress, which is not the same as letting them delegate that power to a private, bank-owned institution. Read Bill Still and Ellen Brown for some other ideas about the Fed.

        • Well the Federal Reserve is privately owned not a government agency at all. I could live the US printing it’s own money like the Lincoln “Greenbacks” or the JFK “Red $5’s” But they were both assassinated.

      • IF I recall my History correctly…..Pres. Andrew Jackson left office with a SURPLUS in the U.S. Treasury….Hasn’t been done since, I believe!

  • As you may know, his extra-political achievements are pretty cool, as well. He participates (and excels) in all types of grueling races and endurance competitions. He successfully climbed to the top of Mt Everest.
    Here’s a video presentation of him detailing his Everest adventure…it’s quite interesting and GJ comes off as a very good-natured guy.

  • oh my god if I had the money for flights, accommodation and a visa I would fly over there to campaign for him.

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  • ThaomasH

    All are pretty obvious except the one about the Fed. How is that bleeding heart, or even particuarly Libertarian? I know it was something that Paul suported, but I did not know that was a typical Libertarian position.

    • I think the idea of abolishing a private,secretive entity that controls the Nations currency crosses party lines.

      • ThaomasH

        I can’t imagine any bad idea that does not.

        Thomas L Hutcheson

  • Sean II

    Wow, I’m stunned to find so many defenders of the Federal Reserve in a place like this. I can’t think of any institution that more perfectly embodies the current incarnation of the Corpo establishment which has reigned from what, 1982 to present. Nor can I think of any institution that does less to meet the BHL standard of joining the market together with a concern for social justice.

    When did supporting the Fed become the key loyalty test to make sure someone isn’t a crazy right-winger sharing racist jokes with Lew Rockwell? Why must we say to Gary Johnson: “Yeah, yeah, yeah…nice shirt. Now hurry up and prove to us you’re not Ron Paul, b@#$%!”

    It makes me long for the late 1990s, when suspicion about unelected central bankers was something many progressives and libertarians and even paleos felt in their belly.

    • jodpur

      It’s not that we don’t have suspicions about them–the Fed is highly worrisome due to its lack of democratic accountability. But no one has made a clear and convincing case that ending the Fed would pay back the *massive* costs of such a structural change with greater liberty. Ron Paul rightly points out some of the Fed’s wealnesses, but his rosy thinking about the future gold standard is entirely unconvincing.

      • Sean II

        That’s not what you said, brother. You’re being plenty reasonable now, but your first comment spoke of abolishing the Fed as an “absurdity that gives libertarianism a bad name”.

        If you meant to say “ending the Fed is a nice idea that lacks a convincing path to implementation”, why didn’t you say that?

        You must be aware that a word like “absurdity” has the rhetorical effect of making this issue seem like a straightforward contest between the obvious and the insane. It’s pretty much the same verbal trick people use when they start tossing around terms like “wing-nuts” or “crazies” to describe anyone who proposes any idea that isn’t popular enough to poll more than 10% in the next election cycle.

        By that standard, we’re all insane, and just about every idea discussed on this board is an “absurdity”. The thing is, without those absurdities there is no libertarianism.

        • jodpur

          Fair enough–I can understand your frustration, for libertarian positions are often simply dismissed out of hand as impossible. (My blood boils when I think of how Obama reacted to questions about legalizing drugs, for instance.)
          But I think that his calls for eliminating the fed and IRS rise to the level of absurd. It would be as if I said ‘let’s abolish the US military and simply have voluntary local militias.’ This would probably be an improvement in many ways, but it would be absurd to put that in my policy platform–there are so many for so many reasons this it would be silly that people would be justified in calling me a crazy. (It would be different if I proposed this as a higly defensible ideal realizable over a very long term.) Talking as Johnson does on the Fed and the IRS is simply appealing to the lovers of system over empirical reality.

          • Vexx

            Its not like the military analogy at all. The fed is essentially a cartel, that in 1913 formed a (non-transparent) alliance with our government through use of trickery. The whole idea of the fed was organized during a secret meeting of the five richest people in the world at the time. You can look this all up online, its very well documented. The military is a completely necessary entity to our country. The fed needs to go away

          • Sean II

            Well, you had me at “blood boils when I think of how Obama reacted to questions about legalizing drugs.”

            I guess in a way, it is interesting that there are only two positions on central banking among politicians. The first and by far the more common position is “all is well, nothing to see here folks”. The other is “end the Fed!” That’s only common among people named R. Paul and Gary Johnson.

            Perhaps you’d like it better if there were positions like “phase out the Fed” or “feasibility study the abolition of the Fed” or “mend the Fed!(by changing its governing structure)” or “allow commodity money over the course of a 100 years or so to gradually drive out the fiat currency of the Fed”?

          • jodpur

            Spot on.

    • j r

      I actually think that the unelected part is a plus when it comes to setting monetary policy. Imagine what our monetary policy would look like if it was set by some committee in congress. The Fed does a pretty good job at managing monetary policy and most of mistakes it makes are a direct result of the pressure being put on them by elected officials to issue more debt and pursue more expansionary policies.

      I honestly don’t get most of the Fed bashing. A lot of it comes across as economic know-nothing-ism to me.

      • Sean II

        True…if our monetary policy was set by congress, the Fed might be tempted to become complicit in massively unsustainable government borrowing. Where would it find the courage NOT to quadruple our monetary base just because a crisis threatens certain favored sectors of the economy? Why, it might even be that private interests and powerful factions would capture the Fed and seduce it away from dispassionately serving the public interest.

        Thank goodness the Fed I’ve just described is nothing like the Fed we’ve got now.

        • j r

          The problem is not the existence of the Federal Reserve System. The problem is the existence of massive and unsustainable fiscal deficits.

          I often hear the talking point that it is the Fed that allows these fiscal deficits, but that’s an absurd point. Governments were borrowing too much, debasing currency and starting wars of plunder long before the invention of the central bank. If the Federal Reserve did not exist, the federal government could easily empower some cartel of banks to buy and sell enough public debt to beggar us.

          • Sean II

            Of course you’re right. The problem is US, meaning…the problem is that people consistently demand more statism than we are willing to pay for. You’d need some precious mettle indeed to stiffen the spine of a central banker against that type of pressure.

            That’s not an argument AGAINST the Fed. That’s an argument FOR some natural limit to the money supply, such as you get with gold.

    • westejas

      Al Capone only wishes he had it as good as the Federal Reserve Cartel of Banks and/ or Goldman Sachs.

      • Sean II

        Now you’ve got me picturing Ben Bernanke in that black tie outfit from the Untouchables, circling a huge round table with a baseball bat in his hand, lecturing the Board of Governors about his “enthusiasms.”

  • Caro

    he needs to add support of abortion and all medical decision rights to marriage equality as fundamental constitutional rights and he’s got my vote

    • Well the President does not set the Constitutional rights but their is provision in the US for YOU to start the movement to make it a Constitutional Amendment. I think you might get some support Gordon.

    • Tanstaafl

      He is pro-choice until fetal viability (can survive outside the womb) and supports full marriage equality. Most importantly (and rightly) he feels the right to marriage equality is a basic civil right and therefore subject to enforcement by federal government. I have spoken with him on this issue. He feels the fed is way to involved in our lives and in state and local government, but feels that one of the few things it should do is protect basic civil rights, marriage equality being one.


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  • Gary Johnson made himself irrelevant when he decided to endorse the Libertarian party, a dead end of wasted effort.

    • Michael,
      You SPEAK….but you contribute only “nonsense”. TRY studying and learning.
      It MIGHT be a refreshing experience for you.

  • Also, he is not a serious candidate–the evidence of which was his complete lack of focus in the race. There isn’t enough room for two Ron Paul-esque figures in a nomination fight. He not only kept the gloves off a Congressman who has never balanced a budget or governed anything, he got thoroghly whipped by him. A man who routinely endorses the Confederacy and has a racist paper trail a mile long. he simply like traveling around discussing hemp rope and faulty constitutional theories related to foreign policy.

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  • John Morris

    It was a waste of my time to come to this site.

    • But it was worth your time to write a completely uninformative comment?