If anyone took Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson seriously, his failure to name a single foreign leader during an interview earlier this week would have almost certainly been the end of campaign. Luckily, no one took Gary Johnson seriously before he made the blunder, so his campaign remains as pointless as it ever was.
To be fair, there may have been an element of nerves or fatigue that played into Johnson's horrendous brain freeze, so one can't help but feel a modicum of sympathy for the man who by many accounts is a pretty bright and interesting guy.
However, Johnson's extreme lack of foreign policy knowledge isn't actually the most disqualifying aspect of his presidential bid -- it is his economic philosophy.
Johnson is a diehard libertarian who believes adamantly in free markets, deregulation and as little government as possible. Johson wants to end the Federal Reserve, cut welfare, slash corporate taxes, dismantle public education and impose no environmental laws that would be detrimental to corporate profits.
For 19 year old Ayn Rand groupies in college and golf playing dads in suburbia, libertarianism is all fine and well. But for grownups running for political office, libertarianism isn't just annoying, it is an actively dangerous set of principles that has catastrophic consequences in the real world.
The idea that unfettered capitalism works best for everyone has been one of the greatest myths of the 20th century. When one looks at the real world effect of libertarianism, it becomes abundantly clear that it isn't a principled economic system, but a self serving ideology that has wrought extreme devastation on the working poor, the middle class, and the environment. Libertarianism has failed so spectacularly around the world that even the IMF -- an organization dedicated to promoting free market capitalism -- has disavowed it.
The evidence for the failure of extreme free market capitalism is everywhere around us -- it has failed in African, failed in Latin America, failed in Britain and failed in the US. After Ronald Reagan began dismantling the government and paving the way for militant corporate capitalism, Americans have endured over three decades of rising inequality, stagnant wages and a crumbling infrastructure.
“The American Society of Civil Engineers said in 2007 that the U.S. had fallen so far behind in maintaining its public infrastructure -- roads, bridges, schools, dams -- that it would take more than a trillion and half dollars over five years to bring it back up to standard," wrote Naomi Klein in her seminal book, "The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism".
"Instead, these types of expenditures are being cut back. At the same time, public infrastructure around the world is facing unprecedented stress, with hurricanes, cyclones, floods and forest fires all increasing in frequency and intensity," Klein continued.
"It's easy to imagine a future in which growing numbers of cities have their frail and long-neglected infrastructures knocked out by disasters and then are left to rot, their core services never repaired or rehabilitated. The well-off, meanwhile, will withdraw into gated communities, their needs met by privatized providers. ”
This is the world created by extreme free markets -- deterioration and collapse for the majority of the population, with extreme wealth and opulence for the minority. However well meaning Libertarians like Gary Johnson are, free markets have never worked for the benefit of all people -- they have worked for the rich and powerful who use the ideology as a weapon to beat the poor with.
Johnson may well believe that dismantling the government and allowing big business to run the economy would create a Randian utopia, but the facts prove otherwise. The fact that he still has faith in a philosophy that has literally no real world use whatsoever means he is a fantasist not fit for office.
photo credit: Gage Skidmore