If you’ve been following the US Presidential race then you’re no doubt familiar with a handful of people; Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are the major players on the Republican side, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are the Democrat nominees. To the average person the United States only has two political parties; either you vote Republican or you vote Democrat, in reality however there are other political parties operating within the US, in particular the Libertarian party and the Green party. Today’s blog is a quick look and rundown of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green presidential candidate Jill Stein.
Former Governor Gary Johnson:
If you’re unfamiliar with Gary Johnson here’s a brief: From 1995 to 2003 he served as Governor of New Mexico, at the time he ran as a Republican. Johnson was noted for his Libertarian values; he advocated shrinking government, he opposed tax increases and what is perhaps considered his most impressive accomplishment he left office with New Mexico in a budget surplus of over a billion dollars. Johnson ran for president in 2012 receiving 1.2 million votes, regarded as the best result in the history of the Libertarian party.
So let’s take a look at Johnson’s policies regarding the 2016 presidential election:
Budget measures/government spending: Johnson has been highly critical of the US national debt and deficit doubling under George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s respective presidencies, Johnson has argued that following a model based on his work in New Mexico the US budget can be balanced via a combination of spending cuts and reforms across the spectrum. In particular Johnson has argued that military spending cuts are absolutely required to balance the US budget, in conjunction with entitlement reforms that will eliminate excessive healthcare and welfare spending.
Taxation: Standard Libertarian values advocate against high levels of taxation and Gary Johnson is very much in line with this notion. Johnson has been highly critical of the US taxation system, citing the US tax code as being over 70,000 pages long and enforced by a government agency with over 100,000 employees. Johnson advocates the elimination of tax subsidies, business income taxation and the abolishment of all income and payroll taxes, replacing the overcomplicated system with a singular consumption tax, determined by the spending decisions of individuals and businesses. Johnson’s tax reform package includes a “prebate” (tax exemption) on basic essentials and a flat tax on all non-essential items.
Term Limits: Johnson advocates term limits, citing issues regarding excessive government spending, potential for government corruption and opportunistic politicians turning Senatorial and Representative positions into long-spanning careers. Johnson has argued that the term limits on Governors and Presidents should apply across the board to encourage politicians to function effectively and adhere to their campaign promises.
Jobs: Johnson has advocated the belief that the Government does not create jobs, except for itself. Instead he argues that the most effective way to spark growth in the jobs market is for government to strip away excessive regulation, suggesting that by initiating his extensive tax reforms businesses would have no need to move outside the US to avoid excessive regulation.
Personal Freedom: Johnson supports the right for citizens to choose; whether that be abortion rights for women, marriage equality, gun ownership and the decriminalisation of drug usage, provided one’s actions do not directly impact the lives of another individual citizens should be entitled to choose their own path. In conjunction with this attitude toward personal freedom, Johnson advocates the elimination of government surveillance, supporting a reduction in the size and scale of government departments concerned with monitoring the lives on citizens, including the NSA, ATF and DEA.
Foreign Policy & National Defense: Johnson supports cuts to excessive military spending, in conjunction with a refocusing on the US military to a prohibitive and defensive role, opposing excessive intervention in Middle Eastern affairs and addressing the threat of extremist groups, while supporting improved diplomatic relationships with allies around the world.
Immigration Reform: Gary Johnson supports a simplified legal immigration system that will make it easier for foreign workers to migrate legally to the United States in an effort to work in a bid to create an efficient working environment. Aspiring immigrants would be subject to a background check, pay taxes and provide proof of employment, in turn greatly reducing the excessive policing currently in place allowing law enforcement to focus predominantly on the small number of dangerous illegal entrants into the US.
Criminal Justice Reform: Johnson advocates the decriminalisation of recreational drugs, in conjunction with addressing issues of excessive legal restrictions, laws and the problems associated with mandatory minimum sentencing.
Internet Freedom & Security: Johnson opposes efforts by government to regulate and police the internet. Advocating the idea the Internet should be a space free from government oversight and invasion of privacy.
Doctor Jill Stein:
Jill Stein is the presidential candidate for the United States Green Party; a physician graduating from Harvard Medical School, Stein has long functioned as an advocate for environmental and personal health issues. She has been involved in numerous advocacy programs designed to improve workplace safety, environmental protocols, campaign finance reform and investment in clean energy.
Stein’s policies are as follows:
The Green New Deal: Borrowing from Franklin D. Roosevelts New Deal reform package that saw the US escape the Great Depression, Stein’s Green New Deal seeks to invigorate the US economy by transitioning to 100% clean energy in an effort to create millions of long term employment opportunities. In conjunction with moves to invest in public transit and transport, sustainable agricultural practices and environmental conservation.
Jobs as a Right: Stein advocates the creation of employment offices, designed to supply the American workforce with jobs that adhere to a liveable wage for all employees, enhancement of worker-union rights, workplace democracy and worker entitlement to created wealth.
Poverty: Stein supports the implementation of economic human rights, including access to clean water, food, housing and utilities. Creating anti-poverty programs designed to ensure a comfortable standard of living that each citizen is entitled to.
Healthcare: Stein advocates the creation of a single-payer Medicare system that provides quality healthcare to all citizens as a basic right.
Education: Jill Stein supports access to free public education, the elimination of student debt and tuition fees and the end to privatisation of public schools, ensuring that all citizens have access to primary, secondary and tertiary education as a right instead of a privilege determined by income.
Economy: Stein supports a $15/hr minimum wage increase, progressive taxation to ensure higher levels of taxation are imposed on large businesses and corporations. Creation of small businesses and greater community involvement in business creation. The establishment of public banks and utilities and the replacement of corporate trade agreements with recognised fair trade agreements.
Environmental: Stein supports increased environmental protections on water, parks, pollinators and bio-diversity. Stein also encourages extensive GMO labelling and a moratorium until GMO’s and new pesticides are proven safe. Stein also advocates an end to offshore drilling, uranium mines, tar sands and fracking.
Freedom & Equality: Stein advocates efforts to reduce incidents of police brutality, reforms to the mass incarceration rate and methods to reduce institutionalised racism. In conjunction with this Stein seeks to expand women’s rights, protect LGBT persons from discrimination, protection of indigenous peoples land and rights, create easier pathways to immigration, decriminalise marijuana, replace drug prohibition policies with harm reduction policies and maintain a free internet. In addition to these policies Stein seeks to abolish government surveillance, close Guantanamo Bay, end persecution of whistleblowers and repeal laws on indefinite detention without trial.
Foreign Policy & Human Rights: Stein supports a 50% cut to military spending and an initiative 700+ military bases outside the US. Stein advocates a nuclear disarmament policy, a full ban on arms sales to human rights abusers and the establishment of a foreign policy based on diplomatic relations, international law and human rights advocacy.
Electoral Reform: Jill Stein is in favour of adopting a preferential voting system, electoral reforms to address excessive campaign financing and big money strangleholds on the government. Proportional representation and open debates outside the two-party system.
Both Gov. Johnson and Dr Stein offer interesting alternatives to the major candidates, Jill Stein in particular has many policies that almost mirror Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders, in fact Stein has gone on record stating that Sanders healthcare policy and her healthcare policy are the same policy, in addition to this Sanders foreign policies, environmental policies, education policies and economic policies share a great deal in common. Stein’s biggest criticism against Sanders is that the DNC will not allow his policies to be enacted and instead will seek to water down any policies he presents in an effort to shape them into the policies of Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Gary Johnson similarly has said that about half of Sanders viewpoints match his own, with their major differences being found in the realms of economics, taxation, gun rights, term limits and spending cuts to social programs.
Both Johnson and Stein should logically be featured in the Presidential debates, Johnson has in fact acknowledged that the Libertarian party is currently seeking legal action against various organisations involved in holding political debates as well as addressing the media bias and refusal to include third party candidates in any major events during the election cycle. Both candidates have policies that can potentially work, overlooking the astronomical odds they face in actually being elected, Jill Stein’s policies require an expansion of government in some areas and a reduction of government in others. In particular her policy toward cutting major levels of funding to the military closing foreign military bases and instituting a progressive tax rate would likely pay for the social and educational policies Stein seeks to initiate. The biggest drawback to Stein’s policies are the potential for more businesses to flock overseas which may be offset by the Green New Deal and also the mass unemployment that would come with the slashing of the military budget and closing of military facilities.
Conversely, Gary Johnson’s policies would likely see generalised economic growth, a decrease in unemployment and an increase in personal spending which would likely strengthen the national economy. In addition to this Johnson’s spending cuts to social and military programs would likely balance the budget, the downside to these policies is the potential for increases in inequality due to the loss of public healthcare and welfare. Johnson’s biggest hurdle will be convincing a hostile House of Representatives and Senate of instituting laws that will see them unable to continue on as career politicians and convincing these same members of congress to enact policies that will shrink government which is in opposition of the desires of career politicians.
Jill Stein an Garry Johnson should both be part of upcoming presidential debates, they are deserving of fair media coverage and the inclusion of both candidates could see a genuine shift in the way US politics are conducted, if you’re interested in learning more follow the links below.