Monday, July 11, 2011

Gary Johnson's Pursuit of Scrappiness

Gary Johnson at Monticello
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has established himself as the Republican presidential candidate who won't play by the rules.

He did this by refusing to sign the so-called "Family Leader" pledge foisted on GOP candidates in Iowa by Bob Vander Plaats, who seems to fancy himself as the Wayne B. Wheeler of the early 21st century.

In a statement released by his campaign on July 9, Johnson called the pledge "offensive and unRepublican," saying that its rhetoric "gives Republicans a bad name."
“Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.

“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue’.
Jennifer Jacobs, who covers politics for the Des Moines Register, summed up Johnson's statement like this:
Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson thinks the pledge that an Iowa Christian conservative group is circulating is offensive because it condemn gays, single parents, divorcees, Muslims, women who choose to have abortions “and everyone else who doesn’t fit in a Norman Rockwell painting.”
Johnson's feisty stance against intolerance within the Republican Party and conservative movement is getting kudos across the Internet.

E.D. Kain reposted Johnson's statement on the web site called "The League of Ordinary Gentlemen," prefaced with this comment:
Just another reason to support Gary Johnson in 2012
Writing on the widely-read blog Towleroad, Andrew Belonsky noted:
It's an absolutely unnecessary and offensive covenant, yet at least two GOP presidential hopefuls, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, have already signed onto the vow, which also claims black children were better off in 1860, slave days, and that homosexuality is a choice.

But Gary Johnson, a libertarian Republican candidate, refuses to follow suit, and yesterday described the document as "offensive to the principles of liberty and freedom on which this country was founded."
Johnson's statement was also reported by Elyse Siegel on The Huffington Post, by Michael Krebs on Digital Journal, by Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story, and by Robin Marty on RH Reality Check. She adds:
The Family Leader, who is positioning themselves as the gatekeeper to the Iowa evangelical right, has already pulled back on their language that they say could have been "misconstrued" to imply African Americans were better off under slavery. They have said nothing about the covert "quiverful" code language embedded in their pledge.
Stephen Haynes, at a blog called "Truth and Justice for All," says self-effacingly:
As comprehensive and adequate as may have been my own denunciation of the FAMiLY Leader’s “Vow” yesterday, more important is that one Republican Presidential hopeful actually said it better.... Good stuff!
Radley Balko asks at The Agitator:
Think any other GOP candidate will have the guts to do this?
Boy Box Rebellion also republished excerpts of Governor Johnson's statement, as did Pak Starz, Bruce Majors, and the NH Insider.

Stephen H. Miller notes on the Culture Watch page of the Independent Gay Forum:
Former 2-term New Mexico governor and presidential candidate Gary Johnson says that the Christian right’s anti-gay “family leader pledge,” which other GOP White House contenders are jumping to sign, “gives Republicans a bad name.” Too bad the media refuses to take Johnson’s presidential bid seriously (unlike, say, Herman Cain, with no government experience), but he doesn’t fit into their political narrative.
Ian Awesome, who blogs at OneAngryQueer, says that Governor Johnson
is one guy that I might want to hang out with! He's the first (and I wonder if any more will join him) GOP candidate to speak out against against this piece of hate speech titled "The Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family."
John Cole titles his post on Governor Johnson (on Balloon Juice) "Good for Gary Johnson," while Fred's Humboldt Blog's headline is the encouraging, "GO Gary Johnson." Another widely-read blogger, Joe.My.God., simply calls it "Quote of the Day - Gary Johnson." (For what it's worth, the headline Fox News commentator Alan Colmes uses is the wordy "Gary Johnson Would Take The Republican Party To A Much Healthier Place.")

Kyle Luebke writes about Governor Johnson's statement at An Enduring Vision:
Good for him!! I have always said that the only way that the Republicans will be able to win in the next election is to focus exclusively on economic and fiscal issues, rather than the divisive social issues that rile its base. As Johnson aptly point out, independent voters overwhelmingly reject the radical positions of the social conservative element of the Republican party. Sadly, Gary Johnson's words will most likely fall on deaf ears, for instead of opening itself and becoming an inclusive "big tent" party, it is running in the opposite direction to pander to its radical base.

Rule #1 of American politics - appease your base while at the same time attract independents. Without independents, a presidential candidate will NEVER be able to win an election.
Timothy Kincaid's analysis at Box Turtle Bulletin begins:
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has a bit of an unusual position in the candidacy for Republican presidential nominee. Although as a two term governor he is probably the most qualified candidate, he is not as well known as some of his more colorful opponents.
Kincaid then adds:
... it is of immense value to have Gov. Johnson respond to the blatantly and unapologetically homophobic “marriage pledge” proposed by anti-gay activist group Family Leader.
And he concludes:
I’m impressed. This goes far beyond “i don’t sign pledges” or even “this might be offensive to some”. He even uses the b-word.
Several web sites and blogs mention that Johnson's campaign, on the heels of his outspoken criticism of the social conservatives' totalitarian temptation, also released a low-key video entitled "Gary Johnson 2012: 'Tolerance is American'."

The one-minute video can be seen here:
Under the video on YouTube, one finds this text in the info-box: It's not American to give rights to one group, but not to another. It's not American to stir up irrational fears about other Americans' religious beliefs. It's not American to discriminate against others for the way they were born. It's not American to use the federal government to override the decisions of the states. Tolerance is American. Gary Johnson 2012.
Read aloud against the musical backdrop of "America the Beautiful," those are stirring and, sadly, controversial words.

Gary Johnson has come out swinging against the intolerant within his own party, recognizing that American voters as a whole are far more accepting of their neighbors' differences than some prominent GOP activists and officeholders are. He acknowledges in voters what Reason editors Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie describe in their just-published book, The Declaration of Independents:
There's also a growing recognition that disagreements about lifestyle, drug use, the role of religion, and more are better hashed out in the marketplace of ideas rather than through the passage of contentious laws. Those pushing for smaller government are not some sort of reactionary John Birch Society recoiling from a world that might pollute our precious bodily fluids. By all indicators, Americans are more comfortable with ethnic, social, gender, cultural, and religious differences than ever before [pp. 32-32].
Everyone agrees that, given the received wisdom that voters in key Republican primary states (with the exception of New Hampshire, some say) are in the thrall of social and religious conservatives, for Gary Johnson not just to refuse to sign the Family Leader pledge but to condemn it is a gutsy move. He risks alienating a core constituency, the pundits say.

But isn't that what true leadership is all about?
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Huzzah, Rauch cited you, and now you're on!