Chattanooga Times Free Press
For more than 80 years, the Free Press editorial page has been a voice for free market economic philosophies, personal responsibility and limited, responsible government. Endorsing the presidential candidate who most thoroughly represents those values has been an important function of the Free Press editorial page for nearly as long.
For most of those election cycles, we have endorsed Republican candidates for president. The GOP candidate, even when flawed, generally provided the best platform for ensuring that the United States remained on a path of limited, constitutional government and free market economic policies.
This election, however, the Republican Party nominee has failed to demonstrate a consistent commitment to conservative principles. As a result of his failure to provide clear methods for reducing the size and scope of the federal government, unwillingness to address structural flaws with entitlement programs, reliance on government to intervene in issues best left to families and individuals, and sporadic support of the Constitution and America's founding principles, Mitt Romney is too flawed to earn the Free Press' endorsement.
Romney may be less eager to tax, spend, attack personal freedoms and disregard the constitutional limits on government than his Democratic opponent, President Barack Obama, but only slightly.
To the extent that Romney offers an alternative to Obama, the difference is in degree, not in kind.
As a result, the Free Press editorial page endorses Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson for President of the United States.
Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, has more administrative experience than Romney, who served just a single term as Massachusetts governor.
While serving as governor, Johnson slashed New Mexico's gas tax, fought to reduce the state's income tax and championed school choice. Romney, on the other hand, implemented a myriad of new fees on Massachusetts taxpayers and famously enacted a compulsory health insurance scheme which became the framework for Obamacare.
Unlike Obama, Johnson understands that government spending, unsustainable bailouts and stimulus schemes only lead to more unemployment, a higher national debt, a weakened dollar and a less stable economy.
Johnson's platform includes presenting a balanced budget to Congress every year he's in office, completely overhauling America's ridiculous federal tax structure, and fundamentally restructuring entitlement programs to allow Americans more choice in health care and a greater opportunity to retire with dignity.
The former small business owner pledges to work to overturn Obamacare and encourage health care coverage through the free market by removing the arbitrary limits that inhibit competition among health insurers and prevent customers from receiving the best available health insurance plans and rates.
Johnson also seeks to limit military intervention abroad and overturn the restrictions on liberties at home that were created as a result of the overreaction to 9/11 and America's bungled War on Terror.
The threads that bind Johnson's policy platform are the beliefs that markets work better than governments and that people are more suitable and equipped than elected officials and bureaucrats to make the decisions that impact their lives and the lives of their family. As a result, Johnson promotes entrepreneurship and privatization, allowing parents the opportunity to choose which school their children attend and minimizing the amount of hard-earned dollars the federal government takes from taxpayers.
Some may argue that voting for a minor party candidate is a waste of a vote. While Johnson won't win on Nov. 6, the more votes Johnson receives, the more the Republican and Democratic parties are forced to consider adopting his policies. Voting for Johnson is the most effective way to inject the ideas of liberty and limited government into the political mainstream.
Others claim that it is wise to vote for the lesser of two evils. The problem with that, however, is that voting for evil only leads to more evil. A vote is an affirmation that a candidate is on the right track, but Barack Obama and Mitt Romney clearly aren't when it comes to limiting government, promoting individual liberty and protecting free market economic principles. Voting for bad policies and unprincipled people will only ensure that parties will give voters more of the same bad choices in the future.
With the founding principles and the economic future of our nation at stake, Gary Johnson offers the best plan to restore the values of limited government, personal freedom and free markets that made America the greatest country in the world.