Gary Johnson: Don’t Dismiss Occupy Wall Street

Reason’s Mike Riggs summarizes some interesting  comments made by former New Mexico Governor and current Republican Presidential candidate Gary Johnson made this afternoon during a conference call with bloggers:

Corporatism exists in this country. it is real and alive. There is a real awareness [of this] right at the moment that makes change in this country ripe.

I have to express my solidarity with everyone [at Occupy Wall Street] that we have a country that doles it out unfairly. We bailed out banks that made horrific decisions. They should have been rewarded for those decisions by losing their money. We bailed them out at a cost of almost $1 trillion. I’m outraged by that.

[On crony capitalism at the state and municipal levels] You can be a public official and not have that influence what you do in office. I offer myself as an example of not being influenced by any campaign contributions. Yet I fully recognize you are speaking about reality.

I had a dozen conversations last night asking individuals if they could distinguish between capitalism and crony capitalism. How do you spread that truth message? Well, running for president of the United States offers that forum up. Last night, just for the people I was able to talk to, and regardless of where people were on the spectrum–there were communists and socialists all the way up to free market anarchists–it was civil.

The notion that Occupy Wall Street is misguided, well I was there last night. I don’t know that it’s misguided at all. This country is not equal. We don’t treat everyone equally. I would like to see us focus on the root cause, which is in my estimation politicians that are getting paid off. That’s the corporatism and the outrage.

Johnson has a point. As I’ve said, the incestuous relationship between business and government is good for nobody, bad for the economy, and destructive of liberty. The problem with finding common ground with this group, though, is that they seem more interested in protesting for the sake of protesting and releasing silly, unrealistic manifestos that read like they were drafted back in the 70s by a couple of rejects from the SDS. That, and their apparent inability to come up with anything resembling coherent demands so far, makes it hard to take the movement, as opposed to the general nature of their grievances, seriously.

Nonetheless, it’s good to see someone in the Republican Party addressing these issues, rather than taking the approach of people like Herman Cain or the founders of the idiotic “We Are The 53%” movement. And it brings to mind something Matthew Yglesias said on Twitter ealier this afternoon:

Indeed, I’ve been saying something like that myself for weeks now.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. DMan says:

    I guess this proves it’s not the message, but the messenger for you?

  2. No, it’s the policies the messenger advocates. Nonsense from the playbook of Noam Chomsky is not something I could ever support

  3. DMan says:

    That, and their apparent inability to come up with anything resembling coherent demands so far, makes it hard to take the movement, as opposed to the general nature of their grievances, seriously.

    You keep banging this drum, but are unified demands really what you’d like to see come out of this group? I imagine there are two types of people who would prefer this movement evolve into specific demands: Those who want a swift and radical reconstruction of American society, and those on the opposite spectrum who want ammunition to discredit the movement as a radical left vision while ignoring the realities that plague this country. I would put you in the second group. Ironically enough, your previous sentence is the dead give away:

    The problem with finding common ground with this group, though, is that they seem more interested in protesting for the sake of protesting and releasing silly, unrealistic manifestos that read like they were drafted back in the 70s by a couple of rejects from the SDS.

    Personally, I would prefer the movement hang around as long as possible without falling into this trap. We need a serious discussion on growing wealth inequality in this country and the increasing power and influence of the top 1% in government and whether they share the interests of the rest of the country.

    I doubt I’d support the OWS protesters as policy makers, but in the same way I don’t like the wealthiest few as policy makers. The current reality is the later is actually happening, and I have little faith in them and their defenders bringing a serious discussion to the forefront without the right pressure being applied. And right now it’s looking increasingly like only the left is capable of doing this, since the right (outside of a small minority of Ron Paul Republicans), is clearly controlled and manipulated by the powers that be.

  4. john personna says:

    I think the key is that there are things OWS is not allowed to say. “The sky is blue” for instance.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Shorter Doug: “These protesters aren’t serious until they are getting shot.”

    Really Doug, even as you agree with them, you can not help pointing out how “un-serious they are”. Can you ever just acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, they have a point? However vague? And leave it at that?

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ps: and for the record, I have yet to go to a OWS protest….

    I am too broke to make the trip into StL..

  7. Rick Almeida says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Nonsense from the playbook of Noam Chomsky is not something I could ever support

    This is why I no longer take your writings seriously.

  8. lunaticllama says:

    They aren’t conservatives, so they ipso facto must be “silly.” Ok! I guess we will destroy the “incestuous relationship between business and government” by voting for the people (conservatives) who at every turn advance the corporatist agenda!

  9. A voice from another precinct says:

    Another approach to the headline:

    Gary Johnson–RINO.

    BTW, When did you ever criticize the incestuous relationship between business and government? I must have missed it.

  10. anjin-san says:

    I am starting to like this guy. Of course “conservatives” will not rest until he has been run out of town on a rail…

  11. Murray says:

    @DMan: The top 1% pay more than the bottom 95% combined. Take Bill Gates – certainly a billionaire, but look at the wide ripple effect from his work that has resulted in several technologies, corporations, and of course, thousands of job. All of those pay taxes too. I could name several others: Buffett, Ford, Howard Schultz.