Monday, June 27, 2016

Is Gary Johnson Manly Enough to Make a Libertarian Argument?

I have expressed some hope that Gary Johnson could be remarkably successful as the presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, particularly given the unpopularity of Clinton and Trump with many voters.  But I have also expressed a doubt about Johnson's rhetorical ability for making his case for libertarianism in a sharp, incisive, and engaging way.  As many people have noted, Johnson is not a vigorous speaker.

This doubt about Johnson's rhetorical style was deepened by his poor performance at the "Libertarian Town Hall" last Wednesday on CNN.  Justin Raimondo's assessment of this as a "missed opportunity" for libertarianism is the same as mine.  It was painful to watch, particularly when Johnson passed up so many good chances to make libertarian arguments in ways that would engage viewers. 

As Raimondo indicates, one of the best examples of this is when Johnson was asked whether he agreed with Clinton's charge that Trump "is not a legitimate businessman."  Johnson's answer? "You know, I leave that to others."  What kind of an answer is that? 

He could have so easily said that yes, Trump is a crony capitalist, who is happy to use the legal power of eminent domain to coercively take away a little old lady's home for building one of his casinos. Libertarians recognize such abuse of eminent domain as a violation of the individual right to property.  It's hard to understand why Johnson refused to make such an argument.

It's also hard to understand why Johnson takes on the appearance, as Raimondo observes, of being a "beta male."  He's not assertive in taking on the appearance of a dominant male, which is important in politics, especially in competing for the highest political office in America.

For example, when Chris Cuomo asked Johnson what first comes to mind when he hears the name "Donald Trump," Johnson's answer was "I'm sure there's something good to say about Donald somewhere, I'm sure . . ."

I have commented on Trump's bombastic rhetoric as "chimpanzee politics."  Johnson shouldn't imitate Trump's style.  But maybe he should read Frans de Waal's Chimpanzee Politics and then think about how he might display some of the rhetorical style of an alpha male.

Johnson's passion for mountain climbing and strenuous athletic activity suggests that he could become a libertarian Teddy Roosevelt.  But somehow he cannot find a way to display that manly passion in his rhetoric.


Anonymous said...

Libertarianism will always lose in a democracy because poor people will vote for government programs. In 1994 the Republicans took control of Congress with a small government platform and the Democrats just decided to flood the country with poor immigrants to act as government clients who need government programs. You can't win ever.

New Libertarian said...

Of course he is manly. Look what the man has accomplished.

What have you done?

Larry Arnhart said...

Gary Johnson has many manly accomplishments. But he has not yet shown the manly rhetorical style that would win more than 1% of the vote in a presidential election.