Everybody hates a know-it-all. You know, that person who never asks questions but always has answers? Or, that person who asks a question just so they can school you on the right answer? Yeah, we all hate those people.
For decades, Libertarians have made the case that that is exactly what the two major parties have been giving us. Ask any politician either serving, once served or trying to serve and they’ll have an answer for everything.
How should we make health care better? They have an answer.
How should we make our schools better? They have an answer.
What should we do about Russia in the Ukraine? They have an answer.
What should we do about drug overdosing? They have an answer.
What should we do about…?
Donald Trump is the ultimate example of this. His campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again” but he hasn’t said how. He says things like, “Trust me, it’s going to be great. It’s going to be so great. Our plan is simple and will work. I guarantee it will work.” It’s his go to answer for every question. In fact, Trump has now made having no plan the plan. As of the Commander-In-Chief forum sponsored by NBC News on September 7, 2016, Donald Trump said regarding his plan to defeat ISIS, “I have a plan…if I win (the presidency), I don’t wanna broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is.” On the surface, this sounds like sound policy. After all, Eisenhower et al kept D-Day a secret from the Germans. But this is how Trump answers everything. And yet, we’re asked to believe him, he can fix everything.
Hillary Clinton is no different. Ask her anything at all, and she has a plan to fix education, ISIS, schools, you name it. She has a government plan. Look at her positions on issues on her campaign website. There it is. All government run solutions on all the major topics.
The Libertarians are the only party that have consistently made it clear they don’t want to run your life. Why? Because they admit they don’t have all the answers. Look at the Party Platform. Most solutions are removing government from the equation and letting peaceful people cooperate into a solution that works for them. Libertarians understand there is no one solution for everyone. They understand government is rarely the solution. And when asked about things they don’t know, honest candidates say, “I don’t know”.
So on September 8, 2016, in a 5AM interview on MSNBC, Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Gary Johnson, was asked, “What would you do if you were elected, about Aleppo?” His response was, “What is Aleppo?”
That unleashed the Kraken on social media and everywhere else, including I’m guessing, the dark side of the moon.
Perhaps he should have known what was being asked of him. I admit myself, if I’d been asked about Aleppo, I might have stuttered a bit too. Why? Because I know the conflict mainly as “Syria”. If Johnson was asked “What would you do if you were elected, about Syria?” I’m betting this never would have happened.
In any case, Johnson immediately issued a tweet owning up to it and advising everyone he was simply human. He followed up with the following statement:
“This morning, I began my day by setting aside any doubt that I’m human. Yes, I understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict — I talk about them every day. But hit with “What about Aleppo?”, I immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict. I blanked. It happens, and it will happen again during the course of this campaign.
Can I name every city in Syria? No. Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes.
As Governor, there were many things I didn’t know off the top of my head. But I succeeded by surrounding myself with the right people, getting to the bottom of important issues, and making principled decisions. It worked. That is what a President must do.
That would begin, clearly, with daily security briefings that, to me, will be fundamental to the job of being President.”
Can you imagine either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton saying such a thing? Trump would have answered the Aleppo question with something about a secret plan and Clinton would have given something akin to America knows best and if she could get elected she’d keep digging in to that mess, dragging America deeper into foreign entanglements. AND, both would be pretty much saying, “Trust me, I know how to solve this.”
Gary Johnson’s statement about the gaffe is wonderfully Libertarian. He admits he can make mistakes and therefore, admits he doesn’t know everything. This keeps plenty with the platform of keeping government (himself, if elected) out of subjects he isn’t familiar with. He isn’t quick on the draw but will take time.
But most of all, he’s willing to ask questions for clarification.
It is the greatest virtue to admit you don’t know something. It’s even cooler if you say you’re willing to investigate for a solution. It’s okay to admit you don’t have an answer right away and that you’ll get back to someone once some research is done. And it’s even more incredible when you see someone who once held a very strong opinion change their mind in real time when confronted with greater evidence to the contrary.
Many of us praise when someone asks questions rather than claim to know all the answers. If you want a candidate that “knows” everything, you got Trump or Clinton to choose from. In fact, that’s the problem in government meddling in every aspect of our lives. We hope they know everything they claim to know but we’re all pretty sure they’re pretending to know.
Gary Johnson has also said things like, regarding the Black Lives Matter movement that it “opened his eyes”. That’s another admission of I Don’t Know. Again, imagine Trump or Clinton saying this.
I Don’t Know is okay. Asking questions for clarification is okay. Libertarians are the only candidates admitting they don’t know everything which is why government shouldn’t control everything.
Gary Johnson should not be dismissed or considered unable to be President of the United States. He deserves credit where credit is due.