Before I get to today’s topic I have to say I don’t usually like the political views of Libertarians. There is definitely merit to the idea of "liberty" and I’m all for that. However Libertarians often seem to me to be obnoxious children of privilege who think they’re some self-made Ayn Rand hero. The thing that usually makes them irredeemably insufferable to me is the nonsensically juxtaposed belief in 1. strong property rights and 2. an absolute absence of government. Number two may seem like hyperbole (or Anarcho-capitalism), but no, once these self-professed Libertarians start talking about how their taxes are a type of robbery, they soon outline a plan that promises to cure all problems by gun ownership and the unregulated free market which acts as a panacea but only in the complete absence of government structure. At least that’s the gist of it that I hear all too often.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not categorically against well considered free markets or guns or property rights, but that zero government stuff is barbaric. I understand people are frustrated with bad government, as am I, but Libertarians are special in that they don’t seek optimal government in size or quality; they seek zero government. That position is weird and, I think, dangerous. Stupidity is added to the platform when that position is combined with the popular Libertarian notion of strong property rights. I always wonder, in the absence of the state, property rights upheld by whom?

Despite my deep appreciation for socially workable liberties, especially civil liberties that involve critical freedom of expression, I am no fan of Libertarians in general.

But I am a good sport.

First off, the number one problem plaguing democracy in the USA is the tricky dissonance between the big money of wealthy special interests and the well-being of the populace. This problem which is the at the core of most practical political problems is, in my opinion, greatly exacerbated in the USA by the limitations of the two party system. This is why I think that any exposure and credibility given to minor party candidates who can infuse new competitive ideas into politics is a positive thing.

With this in mind, let me come to the defense of Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president who was recently ridiculed for not being able to name a foreign leader that he respected.

When I first heard about this story, my own Trivial Pursuit instinct kicked in and I thought smugly, well, what a fool, I certainly wouldn’t have drawn a blank. For example… Uh… Hmm….

Actually, yes. In fact I did draw a blank. But this was a rather obnoxious question. To see why, let’s divide it into two parts. Part one is the pure trivia part - can you name a foreign leader? Part two is more subjective - from a list of foreign leaders, which ones do you respect?

I was able to finally come up with a decent list for part one from memory. Vlad Putin, Frau Merkel, Comrade Bob, Ninja Abe, Net&Yahoo, the Castro Brothers, Justin Trudeau… And that was about it. Like Gary Johnson, I couldn’t quite remember who the current presidente of Mexico was but I knew it was either Vincente Fox or Pena something (mentally add your own ~ please). I actually knew it was the one that was a member of the PRI political party (I do live 50km from Mexico). That was admittedly after thinking about it for a couple of days.

I could also just barely recollect that my own current prime minster is a woman named May but that circumstances there were murky (apparently she’s a "liberal conservative", whatever that means). I’m pretty sure it was formerly David Cameron until quite recently.

Anyway… Eventually I got curious and just checked.

Here are some more I knew but that I didn’t think of immediately: Bashar al-Assad, Jacob Zuma, Daniel Ortega, Francois Hollande, Xi Jinping, and… well, that’s pretty much it. About a dozen total.

Ok, what about part two, whom among them do I respect? I knew I couldn’t extemporaneously name Jose Mujica and I ignorantly had no idea he’d left the Uruguayo presidency 18 months earlier. But I did think of him and to me that guy is a genuine hero.

I guess I would have said Justin Trudeau who seems like quite a cool guy. I had heard about his shocking stance on marijuana prohibition with its lack of the usual mountain of hypocrisy. Libertarian Gary Johnson probably should have too!

Looking at the list also reminded me of a couple of others that could have been mentioned whom I have heard of and respect. The first is Pope Francis (born just across the River Plate from Mujica) who is head of state of the Vatican. Frankly he’s pretty cool too, certainly for a pontiff.

I must confess that I needed to be reminded of the head of state who currently presides over no less than 18 countries and is my personal sovereign. I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth II. On one hand she’s shown her endurance by "ruling" for 64 years. She’s also pretty cool as far as I can tell. On the other hand this monarchy thing is as anachronistic as the Electoral College and I would be in favor of letting ER finish up her reign and then transitioning to a proper self-respecting democracy.

The point here is that many of the leaders you might hear about in the news are notable because they are not worthy of respect. The media likes its villains. Oh ya, let’s not forget that Korean nut sack. And many countries place much less importance on their heads of state. I met many people in Switzerland who weren’t sure who their own president was.

If you were thinking about voting for Gary Johnson instead of the Republican nominee, please, don’t let Mr. Johnson’s putative lack of world politics knowledge stop you.