Gary Johnson Talks Rand Paul, Presidency, Prisons, and More on Reddit



Gary Johnson, the two-term governor of New Mexico, one-time Libertarian presidential candidate, and founder of the Our America Initiative libertarian advocacy organization, took to Reddit last night for a session of Ask Me Anything (AMA).

AMA is a sort of crowd-sourced interview in which the best inquiries get voted to the top. Johnson received mostly softball questions and didn't delve too deeply with any of his responses. Still, he did have some interesting things to say.  

Perhaps his liveliest moment was taking a jab at Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) libertarian street cred.

Asked if he thinks Paul's run for president in 2016 will overshadow a (L/l)ibertarian candidate, Johnson responded, "I hope not. My fear is that people associate Rand Paul's social conservatism with libertarianism, when it's not." Disappointingly, though, Johnson didn't go into any more detail about his thoughts on Paul and what he perceives as non-libertarian about him. Not about Paul, but the GOP in general, he wrote that he thinks "Republicans, especially the Christian-Right, are hurting or helping Libertarians politically." This is an interesting perspective, since in a Google Hangout last year Johnson said he'd consider running for office again, either for governor or president, as a Republican.

The former governor, who has previously confirmed that he intends to run for president again, gave a two-word answer about his "primary focus" for the 2016 election: "Economic policy."

He expressed optimism about the chances of a libertarian president being elected in his lifetime. How will that come about, though?

By getting more exposure. Johnson is currently suing the Commission on Presidential Debates for excluding him in the 2012 debates. He explained, "I agree that the two party system stomps on any kind of competition. A great first step is to open the presidential debates to all qualified candidates, including the Libertarians. If that happens, the Libertarian party will experience unprecedented growth."

One hot topic on the AMA was prison policy and privatization. The highest voted question in the entire interview, "Could you explain your support for privatization of our prison system? Aren't you concerned that this could create perverse profit incentives to lobby for locking more people up, and ultimately cost America far more money?" went unanswered. Johnson did answer an easier one: "Do you think the private prison lobby (CCA) has a major influence over our politicians decisions to want the privatization of prisons?"

He said, "No, I think that may be an inaccurate statement, but clearly the public prison lobby is even bigger. It's probably accurate to a degree, but unquestionably the public prison lobby is bigger."

He also concisely voiced opinions on other issues:

I'm becoming more and more sold on the notion of Bitcoin. …

I reject the insurance model. I think we should have a free market approach to healthcare. If that existed, there would be much lower prices, and we would only have insurance to cover ourselves for catastrophic injury and illness. …

The Second Amendment is pretty clear. I don't think suppressers or magazines should be legislated.

Johnson has done about a dozen AMAs, so he probably doesn't feel the need to repeat himself at length. Though, that raises the question of why he continues to do them, if he's not going try to sway people toward libertarianism with anything more than talking points.