The Winston-Salem Journal endorses Gary Johnson for President

The daily newspaper endorsed john McCain in 2008 but Barack H. Obama in 2012 for President is now endorsing Gary Johnson for President in 2016:

We’ve surprised even ourselves with this endorsement, our first for a Libertarian for president. But the timing has never been better for this particular Libertarian, Gary Johnson of New Mexico. He is everything the presidential candidates for the two major parties are not, thank God.

Johnson and his running mate, William “Bill” Weld of Massachusetts, were both popular, effective Republican governors who worked well with Democrats. They are principled and honorable in a time when our country sorely needs such qualities.

For months, we here at the Journal editorial board wrestled with this endorsement. For most of that time, we looked at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump. But as the weekly revelations ripped away any hopes we held for finding the “better angels of their nature,” confirming our belief that neither is fit to be president of our still-great land of Lincoln, we began to look harder at Johnson. We refused to let the powerful party behind either Clinton or Trump push us into a bad choice simply because the parties could do no better.

We join many Americans in being sick of the status quo in American politics, particularly presidential politics, that has far drifted from the bedrock ideals of our fabulous Founders. On this day, by endorsing Gary Johnson, we issue a challenge to change that status quo.

This Westerner’s strong, common-sense record of being fiscally conservative and socially progressive matches our editorial board’s emphasis, as well as his concentration on small government, and, best of all, freedom. We suspect his stances mirror that of many other Americans.

We are recommending Johnson on this early date because, as he has acknowledged, it’s crucial that his ticket be included on the presidential debate schedule that starts Sept. 26. To do so, Johnson must have at least 15 percent in an average of five major presidential polls, a number he is approaching. We make this early endorsement today in hopes it will help persuade the Commission on Presidential Debates to include Johnson, even if he falls short of the required number, a hope we share with a sister paper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch. (We will publish the rest of our endorsements the week of Oct. 16, with early voting beginning on Oct. 20.)

Johnson, 63, grew up in New Mexico. His mother worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. His father was a public-school teacher. Johnson earned a political science degree from the University of New Mexico. He built a large construction business, then entered politics. Audaciously, he aimed high in his 1994 start, running for governor as a Republican in what was then a heavily Democratic state, putting up large amounts of his own money. In two terms, he earned a reputation as a governor free with vetoes to keep government costs down, but one who also boosted economic development and had progressive ideas, such as advocating that drug abuse be treated as a public-health problem as opposed to a costly criminal problem. He left office with his state enjoying a significant budget surplus.

Johnson is a free thinker, a man raised as a Lutheran who has expressed his commitment to The Golden Rule. He first ran for president in 2012, garnering a tiny 0.99 percent of the popular vote, but still one of the best outcomes in his party’s history.

Now, the issues, as Johnson lays them out on his campaign website. On public education, he supports more local control. We agree, although we object to his emphasis on eliminating the federal Department of Education and Common Core. On the environment, we like his emphasis on reasonable regulation and his objection to politicians doing the bidding of lobbyists. He has good ideas on taxes, including eliminating double-taxation on small business.

We like his emphasis on criminal-justice reform, especially on draconian and unequal drug laws, although we are not with him yet on the legalization of recreational marijuana. We like Johnson’s commitment to common-sense immigration reform that would include a better system of work visas, background checks and undocumented immigrants paying their fair share of taxes.

Johnson does have much to learn on foreign policy. But we like his emphasis on a strong military, and that he says we can’t be the world’s police, especially with all the domestic problems in our country. War, he rightly says, must be authorized by Congress through a transparent process. And he emphasizes better care for our veterans.

Best of all, Johnson is passionate on defending our civil liberties against big government, especially on our Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.

With former Massachusetts Gov. Weld (he served his state from 1991 to 1997) running as vice president, Johnson has a solid ticket. Weld, a friend of Mitt Romney and supporter of Romney’s 2012 presidential bid, is, at 71, widely respected among mainstream Republicans. He also served a stint as U.S. Attorney for his state.

It would be wonderful for our democracy to have Johnson and Weld, two thoughtful statesmen, on the debate schedule, starting Sept. 26, to balance the mudslinging sure to emanate from the two major-party candidates. The inclusion of the Libertarians could set the stage for one of the most exciting races in our history, instead of one of our most depressing. This Libertarian ticket has the potential to transform this race from one about insults and scandals to one about issues and honor.

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