Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has a lot of buzz around him. Perhaps this is because he has been around for a while and he has the backing of libertarians, but on the issues, it seems as if there might be a better libertarian candidate in the mix in former Gov. Gary Johnson (New Mexico).
While Ron Paul is a social conservative libertarian, Johnson appears to be a true libertarian. From his website:
We are a nation of many peoples and beliefs. The only way to respect all citizens is to allow each to make personal decisions themselves.
In furtherance of that point, Johnson is pro-life but pro-choice through “the point of viability of a fetus.” Johnson also believes that “[g]overnment should not impose its values upon marriage. It should protect the rights of couples to engage in civil unions if they wish, as well as the rights of religious organizations to follow their beliefs.” Now that last is not support for gay marriage by any means, but even support of civil unions is pretty lacking among this crop of GOP candidates with the exception of Fred Karger. Johnson’s website is easy to navigate and where he stands on issues is found on the top of the page with the hyperlink Issues.
Paul is pro-life and in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act although he believes that it is a matter best left to the states. He believes that marriage should be between one man and one woman. His website is somewhat less easy to navigate. You can find where he stands on issues, but in order to do so you must either go to the Store or scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Slim Jims and Issue Cards. Once there, you can easily enlarge the cards by clicking on them, but it does seem to be a needless extra step or two to find out where Paul stands on issues.
Johnson and Paul are both supporters of the Second Amendment. They both think it is past time to legalize marijuana. Although Paul seems to think it is more a state issue than a federal one. It appears that both support a school voucher system which is also apparently a libertarian issue. So with all that, why is it that Johnson is the forgotten son of the libertarians?
On paper he would seem to be a strong candidate as a former governor with a proven track record on fiscally conservative issues. And yet, he is not even treading water. He seems to be losing ground with each passing week. Is Paul really that much more charismatic? Not really. And yet, Paul gets the attention and money and Johnson cannot even get invited to the debates.
Paul has really benefited from the Tea Party, which does like socially conservative candidates. It is a pity, because while it seems unlikely that Paul could win a general election with his history (whether justified or not) of being insensitive on racial issues and being oddly popular with white supremacists, if Johnson could just get some momentum and win the nomination, he could have a real chance at the general election even here in New York. If nothing else, he would have the pot head vote, but at this point, it seems unlikely that Johnson will even still be on the ballot by the New York primaries.