- Jerry Garcia
I have always been a registered independent, since I first voted in the 2008 election, and I never vote party line. This year's election is proving to be no different for me. I am a firm believer in voting on issues that most affect me. This being said, I have discovered that the candidate that I perceive to be closest to my political and social views is
Gary Johnson who, you ask? Gary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate for president. Gary Johnson is the only candidate that seems to live in reality. (Gary Johnson's facts and postions on the issues is taken from his website garyjohnson2012.com.)
He believes what I believe:
First, a balanced budget. States get in trouble for not having balanced budgets, so why shouldn't the federal government? Johnson pledged to submit a budget to Congress in 2013 that cuts military spending by 43%, and has pledged to veto expenditures which exceed the levels necessary to eliminate the deficit. He states that he will focus the military on providing a strong national defense and limited entangling foreign engagements. If I have to live on an extremely tight budget as a Peace Corps volunteer, why does the government get to spend freely? Both Romney and Obama have failed to give compelling evidence for how they would actually curb the deficit.
One of the most compelling points that makes Johnson so appealing: He recognizes that you can't have limited government at home and big government abroad. He believes that military activities in Afghanistan should end and our foreign policy needs to be retooled to protect U.S. citizens and interests. Johnson also understands that our military being deployed in Europe does not reflect the modern day international conflict map. This is an old policy from the Cold War that seems to have failed to go away after the Soviet Union collapsed. How many bases are there out there? More than seventy in Germany and over thirty in the United Kingdom, and those are the ones we know about.
Johnson recognizes that we need to demand more from our strategic alliances. There is a lack of balance in terms of human resources and financial burden when it comes to protecting our common interests. Why should other countries invest in education while we protect them and our children are failing?
Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay during his 2008 campaign. He did not close it. Johnson promises not only to close it but also believes that everyone detained by the U.S., whether in Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, must be given due process. Indefinite detention should not be an option.
The Patriot Act is the single greatest assault on American civil liberties ever. The idea that the government can watch anyone with no oversight is an assault on the Constitution. Gary Johnson has called for the repeal of the Patriot Act.
He does not believe government should be imposing values on society. This includes marriage. He believes in complete marriage equality. Obama is on the same page as Johnson on this one. Romney, on the other hand, seems to want to impose his personal views on all Americans.
Going the way of many Americans today, he acknowledges the War on Drugs has failed, and advocates legalization of marijuana immediately. Neither mainstream party candidates have supported complete legalization.
Johnson's immigration policy consists of a place for immigrants currently in the country: he believes they should be granted temporary two year work visas and a path should be created for these individuals to gain permanent residence or citizenship. The most humane part of his policy is that individuals should be able to bring their families to the U.S. after demonstrating the ability to support them financially.
Romney is not a choice when voting. I don't feel I need to explain why: see everything he has ever said. I voted for Obama in 2008 and had the intention of doing so again in this year's election. The deciding factor, the final straw if you will: drones. Greg Miller of the Washington Post wrote back in May:
Other commanders in chief have presided over wars with far higher casualty counts. But no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.
These individuals include U.S. citizens. This sets an awful precedent for what the president can and cannot do to his or her own citizens.
In 2009 the U.S. had conducted 44 strikes that killed approximately 400 people. Today the U.S. has carried out over 240 strikes and the number killed has more than quadrupled. The disturbing part? There is no indication of how many of the people killed were civilians, including children. We know for a fact that at least one was a 16-year-old American citizen with no history of involvement in al-Qaeda. It was U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki son, former senior member of al-Queda who was also killed a drone strike. I do not believe having a parent who is a monster justifies your death.
Many of you might have forgotten, but Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Gary Johnson opposes the use of drones to kill U.S. citizens. We all have to draw the line somewhere and drones is where I drew mine.
Am I wasting my vote in casting it for Gary Johnson? An individual who stands a zero percent chance of being elected president. Is it my responsibility to vote only for candidates with a chance of winning the election? Am I voting to elect someone who represents what I believe, or am I voting to ensure that a particular individual never sees the White House?
First, anyone who was around in 2000 (Bush v. Gore) and/or knows anything about elections will tell you that your vote actually means a lot less than you think. The United States is not a direct democracy when it comes to electing the president, rather we have an electoral college. When we vote we are actually voting to elect members of the electoral college. Even more insane a vote in certain states is far more powerful than a vote in other states. In Wyoming there are 139,000 voters for every presidential elector chosen; in the very competitive swing state of Ohio it is 476,000 votes per elector chosen. Not exactly the most democratic system for a country that is so often tooted as the most democratic in the world.
Second, my vote especially doesn't matter than much in New York. In 2008 Obama won New York State by 25.5%. That is approximately 1.8 million people. In a responsible, ideal world I would not have to argue that I am not throwing away my vote. However, we do not live in a responsible or ideal world. This is why it is imperative we vote not from fear but on principle. If I had to cast the deciding vote in the election and voting for Gary Johnson would give Romney the election over Obama, I would vote for Gary Johnson. "Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil."- Jerry Garcia