Refusing to settle: Gary Johnson for president

Christopher R. Barron Chairman of the Board, GOProud
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I simply can’t put the square peg in the circle hole. I am firmly committed to defeating Barack Obama and turning back his disastrous policies, and I wanted to believe that I could support whomever the Republican Party nominated. Unfortunately, I cannot in good conscience do that.

Let me be crystal clear: I am speaking only for myself and not for GOProud, the organization that I co-founded. I fully expect the GOProud Board will endorse the eventual nominee of the Republican Party. I, however, will not cast a vote in favor of that.

Partisan political affiliations are far less important to me than principle. I don’t consider myself a Republican first, I consider myself a limited-government conservative first; the party label comes in a distant second. I won’t simply blindly support a Republican nominee just because he has an R beside his name. The truth is political parties don’t believe in anything — well, anything except winning — and believing in something is exactly why I got involved in politics in the first place.

When it comes to selecting a candidate for president, I don’t want to settle on the lesser of two evils or support the nominee just to be a good “team player.” I want to believe in that candidate.

Early in the Republican primary process, I endorsed Herman Cain for president. I was a vocal and early supporter of his campaign. I wrote about it, talked about it on television, and donated to it. I was a passenger on the proverbial Cain Train from the beginning — when he was little more than an asterisk — till the very end.

I was drawn to the Cain campaign because of a simple message: that Washington is broken and it is the politicians — of all ideological and partisan stripes — who are responsible for it. If we were truly going to change Washington, we needed a candidate who would break from the conventional mold, someone who would challenge politics as usual at every turn and was offering bold solutions and big changes — not just change on the margins.

After Cain’s withdrawal from the race, I looked at the rest of the GOP field and decided that there was only one candidate who could carry the tea party’s message of fundamental change forward: Governor Gary Johnson.

Unfortunately, Governor Johnson left the GOP after being unfairly denied an opportunity to participate in the primary debates and announced his intention to seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president.

After Governor Johnson’s exit, what tea partiers and limited-government conservatives were left with was a GOP field that failed to inspire anyone. It certainly lacks a candidate who can claim the tea-party mantle — and sadly, the longer the GOP primary process goes on, the clearer this becomes.

The Republican primary fight has become a train wreck in slow motion. Instead of talking about fundamental reform, we are left to hear fighting over contraception and gay marriage. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have waged a campaign over the last few weeks that has been shameful and politically tone deaf. The Democrats want a culture war because they can’t defend President Obama’s failed record on jobs and the economy, and it seems like the Republican Party is hell-bent on giving them a culture warrior or at least — in the case of Romney — one who plays one on TV. Well, this where I get off.

The truth is everything I said about Gary Johnson when I endorsed him in December is still true today.

Instead of just tinkering with the tax code, Governor Johnson supports sweeping fundamental tax reform. He believes we should completely scrap the current tax code and replace it with the Fair Tax. The Fair Tax, a national sales tax, would get the government out of picking winners and losers, end the grip lobbyists have on our tax policy, and treat all companies, people, and families the same. The Fair Tax would also unleash the entrepreneurial power of the American economy — freeing businesses from the burdens of an out-of-date tax code.

Governor Johnson also takes spending seriously. Johnson has a plan to slash federal spending 43% in his first year in office. Instead of offering a plan that balances the budget in 15 or 25 years, Johnson is offering a plan that would immediately end Washington’s addiction to spending money it does not have.

Governor Johnson is also an outspoken advocate for truly limiting the power of the federal government. Unlike other cafeteria conservatives, Johnson consistently supports returning power to the states and the people without exceptions.

Governor Johnson also is running a campaign that his supporters can be proud of. Unlike the GOP front-runners, he isn’t demonizing gay people or talking about the dangers of contraception, nor does he believe the state should have the power to criminalize consensual sex between adults.

And yes, Governor Johnson supports same-sex civil marriage equality. As someone who has been with my partner for 10 years now, and as someone who has been legally married to my partner under the laws of the District of Columbia since March of 2010, I appreciate that Governor Johnson — unlike President Obama or any of the Republicans running — will defend my marriage.

I understand the challenges that Governor Johnson’s Libertarian bid faces — conventional wisdom is that he doesn’t have a shot. If the last couple of election cycles have taught us anything, however, it is that conventional wisdom doesn’t matter anymore. The tea party has proven that it can overcome long odds and catapult candidates to victory over the hand-picked and better-funded candidates of the establishment.

The tea party and limited-government conservatives have an opportunity to re-write political history and to show the world that we won’t let the mainstream media or the establishment pick our next president. By rallying around Gary Johnson not only can we send a message that we won’t accept politics as usual anymore, we can — more importantly — put a man in the White House who will actually govern according the principles and values we hold dear.

Christopher R. Barron is a Republican political consultant and co-founder of GOProud, a national organization for gay conservatives and their allies. He blogs at Red Barron.

Christopher R. Barron