One Bumper Sticker and the Convulsions of our Aspiring Nation

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One Bumper Sticker and the Convulsions of our Aspiring Nation

By: John A. Baden, Ph.D.
Posted on September 08, 2016 FREE Insight

FREE's mission, and my vocation, is to foster the conjunction of responsible liberty, sustainable ecology, and modest prosperity.  In the policy arena this implies reliance upon the rule of law, strong and clear property rights, economic coordination via the market process not governments, and laws and regulations that preclude predation of the weak by the strong.  Ecology aside, for they did not address the topic, this was the vision of America's founders.  

They well understood that the normal evolution of a nation is for its government to become employed as an engine of plunder.  The wealthy and influential ultimately manipulate the system to allocate resources and opportunities to themselves and their followers.  The founders would be greatly disappointed by not surprised by the presidential campaign of 2016.  

The major candidates advocate an activist government.  One is surely worse than the other but neither acceptable.  One key to America's great success is due to a simple principle: Under our Constitution it was generally far more productive to create value than to use government to transfer it.  

We have been departing from this principle since the Progressive Era and both major party candidates promise to increase the distance.  This is a great ethical loss but not always a crime.  In either case, I want someone to blow the whistle.  

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, is clearly the only one who has a chance in the presidential debates and I hope he gets it. While I may not vote for Johnson, this is a matter of strategy, I surely want him to explain on the biggest public stage how and the practical and ethical flaws of both candidates.  That is why I constructed a bumper sticker that reads: Gary Johnson for the Debates.  Here is my argument.

For the first time in my life, I've put a political bumper sticker on my vehicle -- a ranch-tested diesel Jeep. I have chosen sides in most elections, voted, done my civic duty. I'm a retired professor, writer and think-tank president, who earlier was a logger and rancher.  I've not been a bumper-sticker man. Until now.  

I want Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, in the debates that begin September 26. I want American voters to hear his voice, evaluate his arguments supporting liberty, ecology and prosperity, and witness his character.

Johnson was a two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, a Democrat stronghold.  His running mate, Bill Weld, was a two-term Republican governor of Massachusetts.  These men threaten conventional politicians of both parties.  They challenge the conventional regulatory and redistributive operation of contemporary politics.

Both parties want Johnson isolated and the public insulated from his message. Johnson threatens their use of government as an engine of favoritism and redistribution, actions that erode the foundations of American success. They are threatened by where a public discussion of his message could lead, ultimately to responsible fiscal policies and a sustainable environment. Both parties are fighting to exclude him--even when poll after poll shows 60-75 percent of Americans want to hear from third-party candidates.  

I find it surprising and encouraging that, despite the major parties' efforts, about 10 percent of American voters have found and support Johnson. Pockets of voters support him far beyond the averages – e.g. roughly 30 percent of active and reserve military and millennials. I find it even more surprising and encouraging that this vanguard of voters has done so despite Johnson's minuscule campaign spending.

The Ds and Rs realize that Johnson favors responsible liberty and secure property rights to protect both our economy and ecology. Trump, in contrast, explicitly supports the taking of private property to benefit business. In opposition to both Clinton and Trump, Johnson rejects subsidies to the wealthy and well connected.  He sees entrepreneurs not politicians, as sources of progress and prosperity. 

There is good reason for leaders of the two parties to be worried about sound arguments by a successful man of good character. A recent Fox News poll found an amazing 74% of respondents believe Clinton would do anything to be president and 68% thought likewise of Trump.

Consider the context of this embarrassing duo. America is the world's most successful large-scale social experiment. This is a remarkable achievement for a culturally complex nation.  Apart from those entrapped by various government programs, the great majority of citizens have remarkable liberty, prosperity, and environmental quality.

This is only partially due to America's blessings of bountiful natural resources. Other factors contributed. Basic and applied science were supported and flourished from the Civil War onward.  Meanwhile, our political economy rewarded the creation of wealth far more than wealth transfers by government.  Hence America enjoyed an explosion of well-being and prosperity. This fostered increased liberty and higher environmental quality.

Alas, this virtuous circle of ever increasing liberty, prosperity, and ecology has been interrupted.  Both the Ds and Rs deploy lawmaking and regulation in a skirmish for power, transferring wealth and opportunity to favored constituencies.  They bestow favors and buy votes.

Johnson challenges these conventional operations.  That's why the major parties oppose including him in the debates.  And that's exactly why he should be there. We -- me, you, all of us -- are duty bound to support not a political party, but an experiment in liberty that, with only a few interruptions, operated so well and so long.

I hope you will answer “Gary Johnson” if a pollster calls to help achieve the 15 percent polling threshold that gets him in the debates. I hope you will research his policies, examine the options, and be sufficiently sure and proud enough to put that candidate’s name on whatever you drive. The bumper sticker on my Jeep proclaims my support for the principles Governor Gary Johnson has long maintained in his personal, business, and political life.

 

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