Bill Maher poked some fun at Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson on Friday when Johnson joined Maher on his show and tried to present his views as being closer to the mainstream than Donald Trump.
The most upsetting thing here is that I’m not sure how true that is.
Few people are as obnoxious about their beliefs as Libertarians. Once upon a time, the term referred to left-wingers who were suspicious of government and hierarchy; this is why you could get terms like libertarian socialism and libertarian Marxism. The CNT-FAI, during the Spanish Civil War, put on display how well it works (rather well, actually — at least, it does until your bigger, stronger, more militaristic neighbor sets their sights on your land).
Of course, this brand of libertarianism clusters closely with communism. Internet Libertarianism, which is actually older than the Internet and far more right-wing, doesn’t.
Unlike left-wing libertarianism, which had an actual theme, good luck figuring out what right-wing, or modern, libertarianism is about. Are they mutualists? Are they anarcho-capitalist? Voluntaryists? Pawns for theocratic state leadership who want to weaken the federal government so they can usurp the rights of minorities?
Well, okay, the last one goes without mentioning.
Every Libertarian seems to have an entirely different idea what libertarianism is. This usually starts with “I don’t want to pay taxes.” It ends there, too.
Every cycle, though, the Libertarian Party puts up a new candidate. This year, that candidate is Gary Johnson, and Johnson joined Bill Maher on Real Time, where he called out Trump for Trump’s positions:
When he started talking about going after 11 million undocumented workers, that’s just crazy.
Not crazy — economically destructive, racially explosive, and socially harmful. But this is Trump, and economically destructive, racially explosive, and socially harmful are the platforms he’s chosen to build his brand.
Maher replied that it wasn’t just Libertarians who felt that way, it was, “All sane people feel that way.”
So far so good. But then Johnson had to invite what came next on himself with the campaign pitch:
I think so. I think most sane people are Libertarian — it’s just that they don’t know it.
Actually, no, I’m pretty sure that I’m a liberal technosocialist. If you wanted the full label, it’s liberal socialist democratic transhumanist open-source technoprogressive bright green environmentalist post-gender abolitionist utilitarian existentialist. “Libertarian” appears nowhere in there.
Now, given my stands on certain things, people may not consider me “sane.” But that’s neither here nor there; most “sane” adults are not libertarian, as Maher quickly pointed out:
Unfortunately, a lot of people who are not sane are Libertarian. I saw your convention. The vision of government is somewhere between colonial Williamsburg and Atlantis. Their economic theory is like Mad Max takes your gas and you die.
And Johnson even tentatively agreed, noting that he got booed at his party’s convention when he spoke in favor of driver’s licenses. But he did quickly add, “I don’t think crazy is unique to the Libertarian Party.”
No, on this much he’s right. It’s certainly not. But “crazy” is the dominant theme of the Libertarian Party all the same.
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