Gary Johnson

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

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Reason

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.

NEXT: John Stossel on Our Bloated EPA

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  1. I hope Rand can somehow survive being dissed by this loser.

    1. Dissed? Saying social conservatives are different from libertarians is dissing?

      1. Brandon, shhhhhh, don’t let the secret out of the bag.

        He’s also a phony constitutionalist (like his dad) both promoting States Rights under the guise of Federalism. That makes him ANTI-liberty, anti individal rights.

  2. In answer to the alt text: No he can’t. In 2012 GayJay fell short of %1 of the vote.

    1. It’s called “The Wasted Vote Syndrome” — a staple in libertarian politics from the very beginning. Clearly, Gary would get more votes than Rand as the GOP nominee.

      The extreme so-cons could not beat even Romney in their own party.

  3. Gary Johnson is the epitome of a Loosertarian. This classless asshole can’t even say one nice thing about Rand Paul ever. And it is insane that this guy is criticizing anyone for not being properly libertarian. He had not read any libertarian economists before he ran on the Libertarian party. He does an awful job explaining what a libertarian is.

    1. Julio Franco,
      Attitude like yours are why we may never have a libertarian President. Why would he have to read libertarian economists?

      He could wind up a crazy as Ron Paul’s “repeal the income tax and replace it with nothing.” Or a gold standard which was demolished with a simple question by Milton Friedman, “Do we want a stable money supply or stable prices?”

      What does he propose that is anti-libertarian? He’s the only one listening to Ayn Rand, where anti-gummint libetarians (and you) are too exrtreme for her!

      Politcal campaigns are not pissing contests in an Ivory Tower for the libertatrian Puriti Possem.

      We can’t have a libertarian society without a libertarian government, and we can’t have a libertarian government without liberttarians.

      Then again, we’ve been ignoring our own majority for over 30 years. Cato’s 2006 Zogby poll found the libertarian label rejected by 85% of libertarians

      How do we elect libertarians? I’ve been elected twice, won a local tax revolt and was the first-ever (only?)paid LP State Executvee Director. I worked on candidate development and trainiing (gasp)

      1. Milton Friedman was a libertarian. I would say my views on money most closely resemble Friedman’s views.

        I am not an “anti-gummint” libertarian. I am probably a cross between Hayek and Friedman, meaning most libertarians would call me a squish. I would say reading Hayek, Friedman, Mises, and Hazlitt are prerequisites to being able to sell libertarian ideas. Johnson not having an intellectual understanding of libertarianism shows.

        I have no idea what any of what you wrote after the first paragraph has to do with my original post. I wish I could figure it out.

        1. I have no idea what any of what you wrote after the first paragraph has to do with my original post. I wish I could figure it out.

          Which proves my point exactly. When I said this: We can’t have a libertarian society without a libertarian government, and we can’t have a libertarian government without electing libertarians.

          There are two roads to a free society. Electing people to enact and maintain it, or an armed revolution. Why do you favor an armed revolt?

          I would say reading Hayek, Friedman, Mises, and Hazlitt are prerequisites to being able to sell libertarian ideas.

          How do we get a libertarian society: libertarian IDEAS or libertarian POLICIES?

          Johnson not having an intellectual understanding of libertarianism shows.

          How many elections have you won? Tax revolts? Anything?

          What if we had an ACTUAL libertarian health care proposal? . Would you be explaining Hayek, Friedman, et al …. or how and why the health care proposal would work better for voters and their families?

          It is clear that you are an imbecile.

          You’re the one who says we can have a libertarian society without electing anybody. And what does it say when you’re too extreme for even AYN RAND? Might that be why 85% of LIBERTARIANS reject the label ? after 40 years of doing it your way? STARTING with a majority?

      2. And I just read the rest of your posts. It is clear that you are an imbecile.

        1. I’ll keep that in mind when you run for President by teaching voters about Hayek and Friedman.

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

    Duh, Millenials, dude. Someone is not towing their fair share of the lion, methinks.

    1. Right. Millenials. If the GOP nominates an extreme social conservative, who wears the libertarian label, the millenials will be gone forever.

  5. I really, really have tried to like Gary Johnson, mostly based on Reason’s (and some other site’s/people’s) urging that he’s uber kewl libertarian.

    I simply find him to be an utter bore, with whom I have far more disagreements than I do a Rand Paul.

    So – in my world, Rand Paul [three greater-than signs] Gary Johnson [one greater-than sign] most politicians.

    That is all.

    1. I find very little to disagree with Gary Johnson about. Rand Paul is better at pandering to the mainstream TEAM RED’ers, but other than that, they have a lot more in common than they disagree about. And Johnson has the executive record to point to.

      1. Oh yeah, New Mexico is a veritable libertarian paradise after Johnson’s tenure.

        Guy is an egomaniac and a loser that most libertarians wish would go away. If he runs again he’ll be lucky to get a 1/4 percent of the vote.

        1. Oh yeah, New Mexico is a veritable libertarian paradise after Johnson’s tenure

          Why would it have to be?

          Would America become a libertarian paradise after 8 years of a Paul Presidency? Gary is infinitely more qualified than Rand, on a MUCH wider range of issues. And he did it all with a Democrat legislature.

  6. I am still pissed at Johnson for not running for the open senate seat. I would much rather have Sen Johnson bitching that Sen Paul is not libertarian enough than having potential candidate Johnson bitching that potential candidate Paul is not libertarian enough.

    1. Agreed. Not that I didn’t vote for the guy for President, but still.

    2. Correction. He does not say Rand Paul is not libertrarian enough. He says, in effect, that Rand Paul is not even a libertarian, which is correct.

      1. Johnson has crazy-person Mary Stack on his side, there’s no stopping him now!

        1. Thanks for sharing that. Do yot have anything substantive to say on this?

  7. Oh, and Johnson on Paul hate?

    CRIPPLE FIGHT!!!!!

  8. When did hipster-libertarian douchebags start hating on Johnson?

  9. Rand Paul is an EXTREME social conservative, like his dad. He peddles States Rights masquerading as Federalism, like his dad.

    He could destoy the entire movement. Just like the EXTREME social coservatives may have destroyed the GOP, as Goldwater predicted.

    The libertarian label is already REJECTED by 85% of the Americans who self define as … fiscally conservative and sociall liberal (libertarians). What happens if he gains any traction and the media pulls the plug on him? He’ll disgrace the entire movement

    He has no platform on any major issues. Non-intervention is not a platform. Other than Gillespie’s fantasy “libertarian moment,” why should we even care about him?

    We’ve been the majority for 40 years, and done nothing with it.

    1. He peddles States Rights masquerading as Federalism…

      I’m going to need some definitions and elaborations there.

      1. States Rights is not constitutional. Federalism. Yes, the 10th amendment reserves undelegated POWERS to the states.

        But the 9th amendment reserves undelegated RIGHTS to the people — which means NO level of government may “deny or disparage” fundamental rights. Our founders were not stupid. The 9th has always been the libertarian amendment. In effect, it enshrines Jefferson’s “unalienable rights’ in the Constitution.

        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

        For gay marriage the 14th is more direct in denying states a role.

        No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

        Your question. States Rights was used by southern racists, as an excuse to to deny unalienable rights (like to blacks ) That does not mean the Paul’s are racists. BUT anyone who promotes States Rights and claims to be a “constitutional conservative” is blowing smoke up our ass.

        His Senate website, for Kentucky voters, will destroy whatever street cred he has. But I’m out of characters. See Part 2

        1. States Rights v Federalism. Cont’d

          Rand’s Senate website has a page on Sanctity of Life. He has a different story for Kentucky voters.

          Abortion should be at the state level … but he brags fo sponsoring a FEDERAL bill to ban ALL abortions. If that’s not clear enough, he closes by saying he’ll do everything he can to ban abortion — obviously at any level he can, and that ain’t Federalism.

          http://www.paul.senate.gov/?p=issue&id=3

  10. 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.

    That’s what everyone else does. Peoples attention spans are short, especially when getting into governmental philosophy.

    1. Peoples attention spans are short, especially when getting into governmental philosophy.

      Might that be why we’ve been losing for 40 years — despite a majority being libertarian! In the entire history of our Republic, how many people have been elected by explaining ANY political philosophy?

  11. if he’s not going try to sway people toward libertarianism with anything more than talking points.

    That’s how Jefferson did it. Talking points UNTIL his Presidential campaign.

    As a communicator, Gary is our Reagan (a breakthrough candidate). But he needs a platform and we’ve failed to produce a single national policy plank in 40 years.

  12. Johnson didn’t go into any more detail about his thoughts on Paul and what he perceives as non-libertarian about him.

    You’re in denial. You quitoted him on that in the preceding sentence: “My fear is that people associate Rand Paul’s social conservatism with libertarianism, when it’s not”

    Reason clearly has a major blind spot on Rand Paul. Do they also deny his extreme social conservatism? (like his dad)

    ” Not about Paul, but the GOP in general, he wrote that he thinks “Republicans, especially the Christian-Right, are hurting or helping Libertarians politically.”

    I hope you mean “not JUST Paul” who’s every bit as dangerous.

    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.

    Umm, perhaos to rescue libertarianism from extreme social conservatives? Ya think?

    Ron/Rand Paul don’t say Jesus 100 times a day, but on main political issues, they’re not much different from Santorum and Bachman. I’m not sure Santorum promoted phony Federalism.

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