By Kevin Zeese
Personally, I like Gary Johnson. I got to know him in the 1990s when he was governor of New Mexico. I was working to end the drug war, legalize marijuana and treat hard drugs as a public health, not criminal issue. Johnson came out for marijuana legalization, so I spent some time in New Mexico helping that agenda.
But, the more I got to know him the less I liked his political views. He took money from the private prison industry and proudly supported private prisons. Making prisons into profit centers creates ongoing human rights violations. Prisons should be a function of government not a corporate profit center. Johnson opposed needle exchange to prevent HIV/AIDS, drug treatment and programs to help people with drug problems get their lives going in a positive direction.
When Johnson is on television he talks vaguely about getting government out of our lives or reducing taxes so people can keep more of their income. Vagueness works for Johnson because when you get to specific policies, his views are very unpopular. He knows if people knew what he really stood for they could not support him.
For college students, he wants to eliminate what little support the federal government currently provides. He opposes free college education at public universities and has no plan to confront the crisis of student debt. Millennials are in a debt crisis because of unfair tuition. Prior to this generation, there was affordable education at public universities. People could work and pay their own way through college. This generation has been ripped off and starts leaves college deeply in debt and unable to participate in the economy. This hurts not just millennials but all of us because when a generation cannot participate it weakens the the economy. Johnson’s solution – do nothing, the market will fix it. In reality it was the market that caused it.
A big lie of Johnson’s “free” market is his support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This should be a deal breaker because the TPP is really a global corporate coup. Johnson is having an Aleppo moment when it comes to the TPP because the TPP is not “free” trade – it is extreme crony capitalism. More than 400 of the biggest transnational corporations helped the US Trade Representative, a former executive at Citibank, write the agreement. While the TPP was kept secret from the people, the media and even Congress during negotiations big business saw it live and helped to write and edit it to ensure it served their interests. It is a tremendous giveaway to big business interests and will be damaging to the rest of us, expanding the wealth divide, lowering wages and poisoning the planet.
When it comes to the planet Johnson is especially dangerous. What is worse than a climate denier? Someone who believes in climate change but does not want to do anything about it. That is Gary Johnson’s stand. He says ‘leave it to the market’ – once again, it is the market that is bringing us to climate catastrophe. He also supports fracking, supported the KXL and every other pipeline and continuing the carbon-based economy. He is a disaster for the planet and climate change.
Speaking of disasters, while 90 percent of the public wants to reverse Citizens United and get money out of politics, Johnson believes that “Any restriction on campaign spending violates the first amendment.” He believes the wealthy and corporations should be allowed to spend as much as they want on elections.
Even when it comes to the free and open Internet, with net neutrality guaranteeing equal access to all, Johnson opposes net neutrality which will ensure favors less freedom on the Internet. Johnson wants to leave the future of freedom on the Internet to the market; that means some of the most hated corporations in the United States – corporations known for providing terrible service at expensive prices would determine our access to the Internet.
When it comes to workers, Johnson is out of step with the mood of the country. Rather than raising minimum wages, which has been shown to help grow the economy, he would end the federal minimum wage. He also opposes family and medical leave being required. So, while he pushes the TPP, which will push wages and benefits down, he also gives corporations the right to pay even lower wages. This will ensure poverty wages for workers throughout the United States.
While allowing corporations, who already have high profits, to build profits off of slave labor wages, he would also end the corporate income tax. Johnson seems like a crony capitalist who puts the profits of corporations ahead of the necessities of the people and protection of the planet. Even worse, he replaces current taxes with a sales tax which will insure most of us pay a higher percentage of taxes because unlike the wealthy, we need to spend our income on necessities.
On healthcare, Johnson would leave it to the insurance and pharmaceutical companies and get the government out – no more Medicare for the elderly and chronically ill, no more Medicaid for the poor. Johnson would let the healthcare profiteers regulate themselves and rip-off people who need healthcare.
He’d even undermine Social Security, raising the retirement age to 72 and allowing privatization – even after the experience of the market collapse.
I can’t understand how a Bernie Sanders supporter would vote for Gary Johnson rather than Jill Stein. Johnson stands for the opposite of Sanders, while Stein is consistent with him.
What really turned me off to Johnson and showed he is working for the public interest was his view on the debates. I am working to overcome the fraudulent commission on presidential debates, which is really just the Democrats and Republicans, and have four-candidates in the debates. When I reached out to the Johnson campaign from the Stein campaign, I was basically told – we want three-candidate debates without Stein. That lack of public interest for real democracy showed me that Johnson cannot be trusted as a leader.
So, now that you know Johnson better, how can you support him?