Gary Johnson

Can Gary Johnson Be the New Ross Perot? The New Yorker Thinks So


For better or worse a thought leader of sorts for middle and even some highbrow American smartypants, the New Yorker (more or less the ur-source of why everyone you know hates the Koch Brothers) tells their readers this week that they should have some serious respect and regard for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson this year.

Some highlights and summations from a piece by political journalist Ryan Lizza. He starts by laying out a best-case reason for hope for a strong showing with the same sort of linking Libertarian partisans have been doing this year:

the unpopularity of Clinton and Trump has created an opportunity for Johnson to at least match Perot's impressive showing… For anti-Trump conservatives still searching for an alternative, Johnson may be the only option. On the left, anti-Clinton Democrats, including some determined supporters of Bernie Sanders, would prefer a candidate who is more socially liberal and noninterventionist than Clinton.

Johnson's own explanation as to what's so bad about Clinton and Trump:

"Hillary has to go out and she has to appeal to this 'everything's free, government can accomplish anything, what can you give us' constituency. She's doling it out as fast as she can. Trump is appealing to this anti-abortion, anti-immigration, 'bomb the hell out of them, lock them up, throw away the key' constituency."

Reporter Lizza finds Johnson "charming and more transparent than most politicians—sometimes to a fault" with "a knack for putting a happy face on the rougher edges of libertarianism." He quotes Johnson crediting a lifelong vision of himself as a libertarian to a book (whose name he can't recall) he read when he was 18 "about what it means to be a libertarian." (The book specifically called What it Means to be a Libertarian, by Charles Murray, didn't come out until Johnson was already governor of New Mexico in 1996, so it can't be that.) He gets Johnson (part of the charming transparency Lizza eludes to) to say (perhaps jokingly) that he could illegally hook up Lizza with a marijuana product the company Johnson was CEO of between his Libertarian presidential runs, Cannabis Sativa, wants to sell.

Lizza shows a Libertarian ticket happy to hype each other, with vice presidential candidate William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts through much of the 1990s, saying of Johnson that:

"I thought he was just so cool that he would do these giant slaloms after doing an Iron Man triathlon and ski five hundred feet in the air and then land in a pail of water," Weld told me. "I mean, he is a serious daredevil."

Lizza follows with a decent discussion of how and why third parties have been significant in the past, including Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, Strom Thurmond in 1948, and Ross Perot in 1992, a discussion that alas casts doubts on the idea that the L.P. will shake the world too much this year: what is the distinct issue that the Libertarians can expect to bring out giant percentages of the vote in 2016, analogous to Perot and the deficit, Thurmond and segregation, and Roosevelt and the progressive reform agenda?

As Lizza sums up Johnson's agenda:

Johnson wants to raise the retirement age for Social Security and to limit Social Security benefits for the wealthy. He wants to get rid of the I.R.S. and replace most of the tax code with a single consumption tax. He wants to abolish the death penalty, expand vouchers for private school, and drastically pull back the American military from its commitments around the world. "The unintended consequence of when you put boots on the ground, when you drop bombs, when you fly drones and kill thousands of innocent people—this is resulting in a world less safe, not more safe," he told the crowd.

Sensible, and one could find issue polls that show support for those elements of his message, from social security to military commitments. But they don't seem to be the issues driving the American id in an election year when the major party majorities want a government that either or both want to further restrict speech and trade, continue spending out of control, and consider either giving away more government money or fears of foreigners the most driving issues facing the Republic.

But Johnson/Weld being the only team out there speaking up for a sane and constitutionally limited government should, one hopes, help destroy the hoary prejudice that the Third Party candidates are the unrealistic freaks, as it seems to have done for the New Yorker.

NEXT: Trump Snuffs out GOP Opposition on Same Day Roger Ailes Is Reportedly Bounced

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  1. Can Johnson be the new Perot? He’s got the ears for that, at least.

    1. He’s also fully capable of quitting the race because he thinks the Trump campaign is scheming to smear his daughter with a computer-altered photograph and to disrupt her wedding.…..wanted=all

      1. Who’d even believe an allegedly damaging picture these days? Gimme an hour or two and even I can come up with an “authentic” pic of Mr Rogers running Buchenwald.

        Besides, GayJay just doesn’t strike me as someone with any interesting skeletons in the closet.

        1. GayJay just doesn’t strike me as someone with any interesting skeletons in the closet.

          GayJay’s hired Sherpas had to carry him up to the summit?

          1. Yup. He’s a loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules.

          2. But he didn’t know about it, because they secretly carried him while he slept.

            1. GayJay couldn’t handle the hypoxemia and the killer Nepalese hash at the same time

    2. No. But he can be the new libertarian candidate, same as the old libertarian candidate, who gets 1% of the vote. And I’m sure he will be.

      1. Even with no debates, Johnson will get at least 2 percent.
        Get on the big stage and that should go up to 6 percent or so. Heck, even John Anderson managed that, running against Ronald Reagan.

        And if people really hate Trump-Clinton, they have a viable third choice. And if they want Johnson, they just need to punch the chad/pull the lever/fill in the scantron/insert other euphemism.

  2. At least someone seems to recognize that Johnson/Weld will be taking votes from Trump and not Hillary.

    1. Funny I didn’t know Trump owned all Libertarian votes. That’s so nice of him to let us vote LP.

    2. He’s pretty much taking equal votes from both in all the polls so far.

  3. There’s a campaign? Are they raising money for advertising? Could have fooled me – it’s the middle of July and I’ve yet to receive one solicitation from the Johnson/Weld campaign. I’m a life member of the LP and every issue of LP News finds its way to my mailbox but nary an official peep from G/W. I guess they’ve decided to allow Weld’s big money contacts to carry the load.

    1. It’s not like Johnson/Weld are in it for any of your interests.

    2. The Democrats will fund Johnson/Weld beyond the dreams of avarice if the Libertarians will draw votes away from Trump. I predict some mighty fine cocktail parties out of the deal.

    3. Go to their site?
      I think there’s a money bomb tomorrow…

      1. Why would they go to their site when they’re so invested in their failure?

  4. Who will disrupt Gary Johnson’s daughter’s wedding?

    1. Beat you by a minute.

  5. I assume this has been posted:…

    1. Work place violence. Just move along. ….

    2. Move along. Why would anyone be concerned about that when we could be talking about auditing the fed?

  6. Trump is the new Perot.

  7. Many people are licking their lips for Johnson.

  8. I’m glad he’s willing to speak out against the pointless bomb dropping, which does indeed make us less safe. Though that is more likely to take votes from Hitlary. I only wish he was a better public speaker. Not sure what the problem is, but maybe he is overly cautious for fear of offending people or being ridiculed. But you gotta crack some eggs, as they say.

  9. Brayed devotions, often teary or callous, echo through Cleveland’s starched and silken throngs mesmerized by the glittering insulation of a galloping perpetuity.

    A culture awash in the momentum of liquid times leads to the kneeling puritan heavy with locks and statute and the sterile hoper bristling with hollow doglegs wrung through shallow dreams.

    Outside the boiling arena where the leathery king and venerable queen ply their dander jaunts an odd-nosed seer offering springs in ideas and wings on chances.

  10. Ross Perot won 18 percent of the vote in 1992. Then in 1996, with an popular incumbent and a GOP nominee nowhere near controversial as Trump, he won 8 percent.

    Ross Perot was a Texas (or somewhere in the south) businessman. He had money to spend on his campaign. And he was a bona fide household name. I came to this country in 1991 and even I knew he was a year later.

    Gary Johnson is a virtual unknown even now. Ross Perot sort of looked like an eccentric third party guy. Johnson just looks like a white bread republican. He has no enduring appeal right now.

    1. Ross Perot also got glowing national TV coverage on 60 Minutes, and the debates were run by a neutral non-partisan organization back then.

      But Johnson has more experience in government, and the D/R guys are far more terrible now.

  11. So the LP will get a large vote share in November and will be back to nothing in 2024?

  12. help destroy the hoary prejudice that the Third Party candidates are the unrealistic freaks, as it seems to have done for the New Yorker.

    1. Dammit.

      Yeah sure, I bet the New Yorker will vote support raising the retirement age and are just dying to support the LP.

  13. But Johnson/Weld being the only team out there speaking up for a sane and constitutionally limited government

    Whistling past the graveyard…

  14. For a three way–or more race to work, it has to be that from the start. You have to have parties who are all pretty much well recognized–and voted for to have this work.

    American 3rd parties tend to invest more in going for the crown before building the structure to support that crown. President is the only think that they believe will show they’ve arrived.

    They need to have candidates in nearly every race, all over the country, before they’re truly viable.

    And even then–right now libertarians complain that 50%+1 means you get to speak for all–think of the conniption fits that will occur when it’s 34% or 21% that gets you that oh so coveted spot.

    1. Not really. You can always split the middle, as Johnson is trying to do. Voters just need to give him a chance, and realize they really do have a third choice.

  15. I truly believe if Johnson/Weld won we would have an overthrow of the Government before Jan or a double assassination. You people don’t get it. They, the feds aren’t arming themselves and militarizing the police to go fight overseas. We are the emeny

    1. The Establishment would have little issue with Weld. If Weld had been top of ticket, they would be polling even better and getting more coverage. But even the LP wouldn’t go that far to nominate someone with electoral appeal.

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