With Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the forefront, 2016 is quickly proving to be one of the most highly contested presidential elections in US history. This is of no exception in the Libertarian Party.
The top three presidential candidates in the LP are former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, rising superstar and social media sensation Austin Petersen, and the founder of McAfee Antivirus, John McAfee. Each candidate brings a unique perspective to the election and targets different demographics.
Johnson wants the government to fund Planned Parenthood, force Christian bakers to make gay wedding cakes, and force businesses to pay women the same wages as men. McAfee believes that the United States is at war with China, and wants to use the government to shut down the networks of our foreign enemies. Petersen believes the federal government should only act in accordance with the Constitution, and is the only pro-life candidate seeking the Libertarian Party nomination. Austin Petersen is evidently the most libertarian candidate in the running, which is why his opposition has resorted to repeated character assassinations in an attempt to silence his campaign.
Johnson is often praised for his experience as governor, and McAfee is revered for his dedication to cyber security. However libertarian elites haven’t been so kind to Austin Petersen, and have branded him as “immature” for having used some colorful language in Internet debates (these criticisms have largely come from Johnson supporters). But if libertarians are to disregard Petersen’s policy positions and castigate him solely for his character, then it’s worth holding Gary Johnson to the same standards. A more careful examination of Johnson’s behavior will reveal that he is truly immature.
Johnson called Trump a “pussy”
On February 27th, during the first Libertarian Party debate, Gary Johnson said that, “Donald Trump is a pussy.” Johnson repeated this line in multiple interviews following the Libertarian Party debate. If it is immature for Austin Petersen to call people “neckbeards” on Facebook, then how much more immature is it for Johnson to call his competition a “pussy”?
How we feel about Trump should not factor into our discernment of this behavior. The standards should be the same across the board, regardless of who the foul language is directed towards. Petersen has never said anything of the sort about his competition in the race. He has instead made sound arguments against their policies and shown why they are wrong. Johnson did nothing of the sort and instead took the easy route by calling Trump a “pussy.”
It is additionally worth noting that Gary Johnson is currently suing the Presidential Debate Commission to try to get third parties into the official General Election debates. If the best argument Johnson can garner up against Trump is that he’s a “pussy,” how much more immature is he going to look standing right next to Trump on the debate stage?
Gary Johnson allegedly gets high before debates
I cannot confirm whether or not these claims are true, but Shawna Sterling, who is also seeking the Libertarian Party nomination, made a comment on Facebook suggesting that Johnson gets high before debates.
If her claims are true, this says a lot about Johnson’s maturity. Despite the fact that we as libertarians are opposed to the War on Drugs, we still hold individual responsibility in high esteem. Any man who shows up to work high can expect to be fired later that afternoon; not because of the illegality of marijuana, but because it’s unprofessional and highly unethical to show up to work under the influence of drugs. For Johnson to show up to the debates high demonstrates his immaturity and shows that his heart will not be truly committed to the presidency.
The Johnson campaign got Austin Petersen’s Wikipedia page deleted
Despite being a key player in the libertarian movement for a number of years now, Austin Petersen never had a Wikipedia page until recently. A few weeks ago, a page was finally made for him, though it wasn’t up for long. No more than a few days later, Andy Craig, who works for the Johnson campaign as a state coordinator, allegedly went out of his way to help get Austin Petersen’s Wikipedia page deleted.
This other man even took to Facebook to brag about getting Petersen’s Wikipedia deleted.
It has almost been a week since Gary Johnson’s team helped get Petersen’s Wikipedia page removed, and Johnson has yet to make a statement condemning his team’s behavior. Johnson should have immediately fired Craig and scolded him for his conduct. Instead, Johnson chose to remain silent, and his silence should be seen as tacit consent for their actions.
Austin Petersen may have used colorful language in Internet discussions, but this is not something he would ever stoop so low to do. He does not fear his competition so much that he has to go out of his way to try to dismantle their campaigns and censor them. Gary Johnson is so fearful of his competition that he has to silence his opposition instead of achieving an honest victory on the battlefield of ideas.
Johnson is so immature that he can’t handle the fact that someone in the Libertarian Party poses a legitimate threat to his campaign. He thought he would be able to buy his way into the LP nomination, and Petersen got in his way. This is why he has yet to say anything about his team deleting Austin Petersen’s Wikipedia page.
All pro-Petersen admins were removed from the Libertarian Party Facebook page
A quick trip to the Libertarian Party Facebook page will reveal a very clear pro-Johnson bias. This is because all of the admins with dissenting opinions were ousted. Every single pro-Petersen admin was removed from the Libertarian Party Facebook page.
Johnson’s influence in the Libertarian Party runs deep, and his campaign effectively controls all content put out on the party’s official social media accounts. Whether or not Johnson is personally responsible for any of this is unknown, but his silence on the matter again confirms his approval for his campaign’s dirty tactics. Immature would be an understatement in describing this. The Libertarian Party is supposed to be the party of reason and truth, but Johnson is espousing ignorance and deceit.
Gary Johnson faked a heart attack
Much like calling Donald Trump a “pussy”, Gary Johnson is no stranger to pulling immature stunts to avoid having to win on the battlefield of ideas. While at CPAC 2015, Gary Johnson faked a heart attack during a debate about marijuana. Conservatives are finally starting to warm up to the idea of ending the War on Drugs, and instead of taking the opportunity to educate conservatives on why ending the WOD is consistent with the principles of liberty, Johnson decided to mock them.
While Austin Petersen and John McAfee are out speaking to the masses about why all illegal drugs need to be descheduled, Johnson (who has never advocated for the legalization of anything but marijuana) instead chooses to taunt those who don’t yet see eye to eye with him. If Petersen is immature, then what does this behavior say about Johnson’s character?
Gary Johnson called Rand Paul a sellout
In October 2015, Gary Johnson took to Facebook to lambast Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. While many will agree that Rand Paul is not as libertarian as his father, Gary Johnson is in no position to criticize Paul for this. However, the wildly inconsistent Johnson still parsed words about Paul, and said, “Rand, in his quest to have one foot in the libertarian camp and the other in the establishment Republican museum, has emerged with a vague mix of positions that is clearly not compelling. There is a price to be paid for selling out — and he is paying it.”
Similar to his comments about Donald Trump, Gary Johnson used ad hominem to attack his competitor. Instead of discussing the policy positions Paul has that puts him at odds with libertarian philosophy, Johnson finds it easier to just say that he’s “selling out.” Perhaps the reason Johnson did not want to go into policy is because it would be revealed that he too is a sellout by his own standards. After all, Johnson wants the government to fund Planned Parenthood, he wants the government to force Christian bakers to make gay wedding cakes and force employers to pay women the same wages as men, he supported going to war with a fictional warlord in Uganda, he supports the United Nations, he believes economic recessions are caused by capitalism, and he never has much to say about the Federal Reserve.
Johnson has been around politics long enough that the list could go on, but these are just some of the most notable examples of Johnson’s immaturity in recent months. As aforementioned, Petersen is very clearly the most libertarian candidate in the running for the LP, which is why his detractors have taken to attacking his character as a desperate resort. But if candidates are to be supported based on their character rather than their policy positions, Johnson has proven himself to be worse.
Johnson is a career politician who knows nothing of libertarianism, and built his success in the LP by attacking his opponents with strings of ad hominem instead of with an intellectual debate of ideas. He is running a dirty campaign and expects the Libertarian Party presidential nomination to be given to him on a golden platter, not because he is the best candidate, but because he believes he has the most “experience.” Johnson is afraid of his competition and has refused to say anything about his campaign team’s censorship of the Petersen camp.
Gary Johnson needs to be held to the same standards as Austin Petersen. We can’t pick and choose when to apply our principles. Austin Petersen may have used some colorful language in Internet discussions, but he is running an honest presidential campaign. Johnson’s immaturity is far more severe because he is being immature to try to gain power. It is for this reason that no libertarian should seriously consider Gary Johnson as a viable candidate for the Libertarian Party.
Johnson loses to Petersen when it comes to policy, since his proposals are far from libertarian, and he loses to Petersen when it comes to maturity, since his record shows that he will stoop to childish tactics to try to gain power. For his supporters to not see this after reading this article shows a great deal of intellectual dishonesty on their part. We as libertarians must have a commitment to principle, and Gary Johnson does not fit the bill.
While Gary Johnson was out faking heart attacks to mock his political opponents, Austin Petersen was out making phone calls to his dissenters, showing them why libertarianism will benefit their lives. While Johnson was allegedly getting high before debates, Petersen was brushing up on libertarian literature. While Johnson was calling Donald Trump a “pussy”, Petersen was running a successful website and opening up people to new ideas.
Gary Johnson had his chance in 2012 and blew it. This year’s nomination should go to the candidate with the best ideas, and not to the candidate with the most money. Austin Petersen has arguably brought more people to libertarianism than Gary Johnson ever will. Johnson only started calling himself a libertarian in 2012 when his lust for power failed in the Republican Party, but Petersen has been a dedicated libertarian his entire life. If it weren’t for Austin’s work as an executive producer at the Fox Business Network, the world would have never been introduced to Judge Napolitano. Judge Napolitano is the man who converted myself, and thousands of others, into libertarians.
Austin continues to win hearts and minds to libertarian thought every single day. Meanwhile, Johnson is absent from having any intellectual discussions about libertarianism and only shows up to speak when it’s required of him. For anyone considering attending the LP National Convention as a delegate, please vote wisely. Gary Johnson is like the Johnny Manziel of the Libertarian Party. He is immature and does not deserve to be the Libertarian Party presidential nomination.