Gary Johnson went on MSNBC Wednesday night and had an embarrassing brain freeze when asked to name a foreign leader he admires.
He then compounded the error Thursday afternoon by reminding people of the imbroglio and emphasizing that even after having a day to research and think about the question, he can’t come up with a name:
It's been almost 24 hours...and I still can't come up with a foreign leader I look up to.— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) September 29, 2016
So I’m here to help him out.
His basic problem is that he is a libertarian, and the majority of major democratically elected world leaders come from either an activist government center-left tradition (Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau, François Hollande, Matteo Renzi) or a social conservative center-right tradition (Shinzo Abe, Angela Merkel, Theresa May).
The closest thing you will find to a US-style libertarian abroad is what are called “liberal” parties in Europe. They are generally more moderate than US libertarians because they participate in practical governance, but they reflect a basic free market secularist worldview that Johnson should find congenial. There aren’t a ton of liberal heads of government, but Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark both fit the bill. Their governments have focused on fiscal austerity, trying to keep taxes low by European standards, and reducing labor market regulation while retaining a more or less socially liberal outlook.
Johnson doesn’t seem to be trying particularly hard to do well in this election, but on the off chance that he wants to give a good answer to this question, there are some good candidates for him.