Gary Johnson’s cool. He likes pot and he’s not Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. In some polls he has been performing even better than Trump along millennials, and has trailed Clinton by only single digits. For some people Johnson is a protest vote, as the two major party candidates have some of the highest unfavorable ratings of all time. But you should know that on many issues critical to millennial voters, Gary Johnson is an awful choice. People are generally less informed on his policy positions than on the positions of Trump and Clinton, and he has taken stances that stand in direct contrast to what many younger voters believe.
Generally, Johnson’s positions on social issues are in line with the opinions of millennials. He is in favor of same sex marriage, although he does believe churches should be able to refuse to perform homosexual marriage ceremonies. In addition, he has come out in favor of adding gender identity to anti-discrimination laws. Johnson also supports the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana.
While these stances are viewed mostly favorably by young voters, Johnson has some very worrying opinions on other issues. Take the Citizens United ruling, for example. Voters of all ages have expressed displeasure with this decision, which has allowed corporations and special interest groups to form Super PACs and spend unlimited amounts of money in support of political candidates. Many feel that this gives too much influence to companies and the rich.
Johnson not only believes in Citizens United, but believes there should be no limits whatsoever on how much any entity can donate to a political campaign. Such policy implementation could have terrible ramifications. Corporate money distorts democracy by limiting the voices of the average citizen and giving an unfair advantage to those who are successful financially. We should support free speech, but corporations are not people and money is not speech. We can’t risk the possibility of an essential oligarchy just because of some misguided notion about the rights of corporations.
Some of his economic positions are disconcerting as well. He doesn’t believe in the minimum wage and believes businesses should be able to determine what to pay their employees. This is a regressive notion, and ignores the fight of American workers in the 20th century to guarantee a minimum wage because many were being paid next to nothing. It is frankly disgraceful and naïve to suggest that workers would be better off with corporations in complete control of wages.
Adding to this anti-worker stance is Johnson’s belief that labor unions hurt the economy, despite the fact that labor unions are the reason we don’t have child labor or excessively long work weeks anymore. He also opposes “equal pay for equal work” laws that would guarantee that men and women get paid the same for doing the same jobs. Despite the fact that nearly every industrialized country in the world guarantees paid family to take care of a child or sick family member, Johnson doesn’t believe we should guarantee what many consider a right. He supports TPP as well, which at this point is hated by pretty much everyone in both parties. If you think Hillary Clinton is friends with Wall Street and big business, then Gary Johnson may as well be married to them.
It doesn’t stop there. While Johnson believes in man-made climate change, he doesn’t believe in government taking action to fight it. Scientists tell us that we are unlikely to avoid catastrophe even with a deal like the Paris Climate Agreement (which relies on government action), so it is difficult to comprehend how Johnson thinks we’re going to fight climate change. Additionally, Johnson is of the opinion that the government shouldn’t mandate vaccines, something that will help shore up his support amongst polio and smallpox enthusiasts.
So yes, Gary Johnson is not Trump or Clinton. But his policy positions indicate he would do much harm to the American worker, to the American political process, and to the future of our world. Gary Johnson isn’t worth your protest vote.
Jacob Kowalski is a weekly columnist to The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.