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The class struggle of th Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson

by mil Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 at 2:09 AM

The Libertarians’ economic program voices the economic grievances of some of the more economically insecure layers of the American middle class through their criticisms of the domination of the major banks and corporations. Based on conceptions which originate in the right-wing and anticommunist Austrian School of bourgeois economics





One of the manifestations of the deep unpopularity of the two main candidates in the 2016 presidential elections is the unprecedented support recorded in public opinion polls for third-party candidates. The candidates for the two media-recognized third-parties, Gary Johnson for the Libertarians and Jill Stein for the Greens, have received the combined support of more than 10 percent of respondents in many recent polls, nearly five times their combined showing in any previous U. S. election.

The bulk of this growing support for third-party candidates has come at the expense of Hillary Clinton, who is widely viewed as the personification of the corrupt status quo. This trend has been particularly pronounced among young people, setting off alarm bells within the Democratic Party, which has deployed the self-proclaimed “socialist” Bernie Sanders, the overwhelming favorite among young people during the Democratic primaries, to college campuses, in order to browbeat youth into voting for Clinton, claiming that support for third parties is tantamount to a vote for Trump.

Clinton's widespread unpopularity, which has only deepened since the end of the Democratic National Convention, has not resulted in a significant rise in support for Trump, but instead a growth in support for Johnson, and to a lesser extent, Stein. Although Trump has attempted to capitalize on widespread economic distress in order to lay the foundations for a fascistic movement which would continue after the November elections, workers and young people in the United States as a whole are moving not to the right, but to the left.

It appears paradoxical that the main beneficiary of the opposition to both Trump and Clinton has been the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. For decades, the Libertarians have positioned themselves as the more fundamentalist free-market alternative to the Republicans, calling for the outright abolition of social programs such as Medicare and Social Security and opposing any restraint on profit-making ventures of American corporations. Support for the Libertarians in previous elections has typically come almost exclusively at the expense of Republican candidates.

In their most recent platform, the Libertarians write: “we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.”

The Libertarians’ economic program voices the economic grievances of some of the more economically insecure layers of the American middle class through their criticisms of the domination of the major banks and corporations. Based on conceptions which originate in the right-wing and anticommunist Austrian School of bourgeois economics, the Libertarians attack monopolistic practices of Wall Street as “crony capitalism,” a “distortion” of the capitalist market introduced from without primarily through government intervention, and call for a return to “real” capitalism and free competition. This schema inverts the real relationship between the financial oligarchy and the state.

While a section of Johnson’s support comes from disaffected Republicans opposed to Trump’s candidacy—he’s been endorsed by a half dozen newspapers, all previously aligned with the Republican Party—his support among young people, who voted overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders in the primaries, has been even more substantial. A Quinnipiac poll in August found that Johnson was polling second among voters aged 18 to 29, trailing Clinton by only two points, 31 percent to 29 percent, with Trump polling 26 percent and Stein 15 percent.

In the highly restricted American political system, carefully controlled in order to prevent any possibility for the independent political expression of the interests of the working class, popular sentiment can only find a highly distorted and refracted means of expression. The increase in support for Johnson is not an indication that ultra-right free market politics have suddenly become popular, but is, in effect, a vote of no confidence in both of the two main candidates.

To a large extent, the Libertarian has become the beneficiary of the “none-of-the-above” vote simply because he is simply the most visible third-party candidate. Johnson, who served two terms as Governor of New Mexico as a Republican before switching his party affiliation to the Libertarians, has enjoyed the most favorable treatment by the bourgeois media, who treat him, by virtue of his previous political career, to be the most serious third-party candidate (his running mate, Bill Weld, also served as a Republican Governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997). Johnson is a regular guest on television news programs, and CNN has aired two primetime Libertarian “town hall” programs.

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