Gary Johnson On Why He Changed His Mind About Running for President

Las Vegas - Gary Johnson sat down with Reason to talk about his current bid for the Libertarian Party nomination as well as his past flirtations with the party. 

In 2000, while still governor of New Mexico, the Libertarian Party courted Johnson as a potential presidential candidate. He declined as he still had two year remaining on his term as governor. Twelve years have passed since he last seriously flirted with running for president.

What changed to make him take the plunge on the LP line? 

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  • ||

    Gary Johnson, chillest presidential candidate of all time.

    (but not a great public speaker)

  • AlmightyJB||

    He needs to find someone good to work with him. I've actually been pretty impressed with the improvement in Ron Paul's performance in both debates and media interviews. Part of that is just doing it, but he's obviouisly getting coached as well.

  • ||

    Paul's a quick study; unfortunately, there's no substitute for wading through the swirling cauldron of politics.

    Johnson, I'm not quite as optimistic. AJB is right: He needs a good coach to project a bit more confidence, a good crotch grab and war cry. Rhetorically speaking, of course.

  • guy in the back row||

    A coach would help. Johnson seemed very uncomfortable in the debates he participated in early in the republican primary. I was surprised, I thought he would be smoother since he was a two term governor.

  • db||

    Too bad Paul didn't have his opportjnity when he was 15 years younger.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Wow, talk about clueless. I'm pretty forgiving about looks when it comes to women but this chick looks like fckn Gollum and she's talking smack about other women?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/fem.....l?ITO=1490

  • Killazontherun||

    You don't find her attractive? WTF? Those are the glistening haunches you only find on chestnut mares. Wait, that's her face. Never mind.

  • TingoZing||

    Fascinagin indeed, I like the sound of that.

    www.Privacy-Guys.tk

  • Brian from Texas||

    I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Johnson and the other LP candidates in Ft. Worth a month back. He's definitely my favorite amongst them though any one of them would get my vote over Obama or Romney.

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    I have a question: is Gary Johnson one of those Top. Men. I keep hearing about around here? Is Ron Paul?

  • cw||

    I'm not sure what you mean.

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    I'll try to 'splain some.

    In many cases when an article or a commentator implies that things would work better if only the right people were in charge the assertion is generally met with a chorus of "Top. Men." This statement is used to deride whoever made the original statement. The problem is, many of those people can be seen in other places saying that things would be running better if only Ron Paul or Gary Johnson were in charge.

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    I thought it was an Indy Jones reference?

  • Suellington||

    "Well, where is the ark?" "We have top men working on it now." Who? "Top. Men."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6-rQ6Jay6w

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    I believe that is the origin of the phraseology.

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Nice, more evidence to support my theory that every memorable scene from my favorite childhood movies can be found on Youtube.

    I'll leave the rest of you to discuss the more delicate issue of sometimes mocking, yet occasionally embracing Top Men, while I check if they have the Revenge of the Nerds belching contest scene.

  • Sevo||

    Soc Indv Sparky|5.2.12 @ 11:39PM|#
    "I'll try to 'splain some.
    In many cases when an article or a commentator implies that things would work better if only the right people were in charge the assertion is generally met with a chorus of "Top. Men." This statement is used to deride whoever made the original statement. The problem is, many of those people can be seen in other places saying that things would be running better if only Ron Paul or Gary Johnson were in charge."

    Damned good point!
    For starters, we're stuck with someone in the position of President, so someone is going to be Top. Man.
    There is certainly a good chance that Paul or Johnson is merely one more of those.
    My 'hope' for 'change' (OMG!) is that both recognize the limits of what a government can accomplish and do what they can as Top. Man. to correct the tendency toward expanded government power.
    I have met and engaged Johnson; I'm confident of that 'hope' in his case. Can't say the same for Paul.

  • cw||

    My biggest hope would be that RP and GJ would help shift American culture toward a more libertarian ethos (even though we can't totally define it) by the example they'd try to set. I don't put much stock in their abilities to abolish laws, regs, etc., while in office.

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    I'll admit I don't know much about Johnson but I do agree with a lot of pieces of Paul's platform. He seems like a decent and honest guy and would truly do his best to try to steer the country in the right direction. The real problem is, I don't believe that the man on top, whoever he might be, really has as much control of the ship as everyone believes. The man on top only has as much control as the people immediately below him allow him to have.

  • Sevo||

    "The real problem is, I don't believe that the man on top, whoever he might be, really has as much control of the ship as everyone believes."

    Not sure what "everyone believes" and I'll bet you aren't either.
    But assuming that Johnson was at least somewhat honest in our discussions (and that Paul is ditto with his positions), if either was elected president, I'd say it would be a bombshell landing in DC.
    It's not what either (if elected) would have the direct power to do; it's what a popular vote says about what's now happening.
    Paul doesn't have to win the R convention, nor does Johnson have to win as an LP candidate to get *attention*!

  • AlmightyJB||

    "I do agree with a lot of pieces of Paul's platform"

    So are a lot more people. Imagine how many more people's eyes could be opend if he had the bully pulpit for four years. There is no doubt that he would not be able to do everything he wanted, but just not committing us to wars, and being able to pull back the reigns of the DOJ and DHS would be a huge improvment.

  • zak||

    Part of the problem with American politics, is most people are completely ignorant of how it works, and what each part of the government can do. Thus, the extreme focus on the Top.Man. while the same individuals who collectively hold an 8% approval rating in congress hold their seats.

    In the case of Gary Johnson, I'm tentatively hopeful, as his track record and actual results as Governor of New Mexico seem pretty impressive.

  • cw||

    Ah, I see. You know, I think that is something that libertarians struggle with: don't trust politicians, but there seem to be some who are marginally better than any other alternatives.

    I think that's just dealing with the reality that politics will always be with us, and the majority of people in any group will rally behind some person, even when that group claims to be against that sort of thing.

    Hopefully I'm not just rationalizing here.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "is Gary Johnson one of those Top. Men. I keep hearing about around here? Is Ron Paul?"

    Good question SIS. Not sure if you caught the debate Ron Paul had with Paul Krugman the other day about the fed and the economy. In the world of red and blue, Top Men make decisions about what the money supply should be and what interest rates should be based on nothing more than the absolute confisence that since they're so smart that they must be right. Ron Paul argued that instead of Top men in DC and at the Fed running the economy, the American people should. The market will determine interest rates and currency competition will fulfill money supply based on supply and demand. With education, instead of Top Men in DC deciding curiculum and school policy, with school choice the parents decide the ciriculum and school policy. Vice laws, same thing. It's about taking the power out of the hands of Top Men and putting it back in the hands of the people. That is what Liberty is all about.

  • heart_of_flint||

    I think the response is that libertarians do not rely on government leaders to solve problems. For instance, Johnson said he "did not create a single job" because private enterprise created the new jobs in NM. Johnson would be an improvement not because of his singular brilliance, but because he would enact good policy that allows others to do what government cannot.

  • ||

    (Channeling Warren) Doom! Dooooooooom!

  • cw||

    Just waiting for shrike to gloat about how he got like an 87% on the fictional LP purity test. Because, like, wanting more state control of damn near everything except a couple Team Blue sacred cows is, like, totally libertarian.

  • Sevo||

    cw|5.2.12 @ 11:37PM|#
    "Just waiting for shrike to gloat about how he got like an 87% on the fictional LP purity test...."
    Shriek's a lair; shriek can claim what shriek pleases. Doesn't matter; shriek's a lair. Shriek lies; that's all.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "waiting for Shrike" is not something you will ever see me type.

  • AlmightyJB||

    except for just now:)

  • han||

    A very good article.

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