Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson's Libertarian Alternative

You don't have to settle for the major parties.


Gary Johnson
Nancy Kaszerman/ZUMA Press/Newscom

If you were a pilot lost over the ocean and running out of fuel, you would love to see a large expanse of land with an asphalt runway. But if the only ground in sight were a tiny barren island, you'd be more than happy to settle for that. 

In this election, Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson and running mate Bill Weld present themselves as the island. 

With the two major parties choosing nominees who are viewed more unfavorably than any other nominee in recent history, the Libertarian candidates think they offer a way to escape disaster. Some Americans already agree. In a recent CNN poll against Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Johnson got 13 percent of the vote. 

The two represent a notable departure for the party. In the past, the Libertarians have concentrated on mobilizing true believers, exposing the fundamental misconceptions underlying conventional government policy and educating the public about the virtues of untrammeled free markets. That is a reliable formula for capturing 0.99 percent of the popular vote, as they did in the 2012 presidential election. 

This year, the party decided to make an effort to expand its appeal beyond those who want to legalize heroin and sell off the national parks. It nominated a pair of former Republican governors (New Mexico and Massachusetts) who during their time in office showed themselves to be pragmatic problem-solvers with sturdy spines. 

Both cut taxes and restrained spending enough to earn A's and B's on fiscal report cards issued by the libertarian Cato Institute, which does not grade on a curve. Both cut the number of state government employees. Both were in favor of charter schools, abortion rights and privatizing some government operations. 

Faced with a Democratic legislature, Johnson vetoed more than 700 bills. Weld managed to work with a Democratic legislature in pulling the state out of a fiscal crisis and balancing the budget. 

They are, in short, seasoned adults who know how to govern—and in a manner attuned to public sentiment. Johnson won a second term with 55 percent of the vote, Weld with 71 percent. 

Their campaign message is not: If Americans listen to us, they may become Libertarians. It is rather, as Johnson put it Tuesday when he and Weld met with the Chicago Tribune editorial board: "Most people are libertarian. It's just that they don't know it." 

What he means is that they have a general preference for policies that are fiscally conservative but socially tolerant. Americans are in accord with Libertarians, Johnson has argued, in wanting the government "out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom." 

He and Weld are what you might call kinder, gentler Libertarians. Johnson decries the drug war but says the only drug they advocate legalizing is marijuana—harder ones being off-limits. They would not have intervened militarily in Iraq, Libya or Syria, but Johnson says, "I don't have any alliances I'd want to end." 

"We're right up the middle," asserts Weld. About the most radical ideas they offer are cutting the federal budget by 20 percent and abolishing the departments of Education, Commerce and Housing and Urban Development. 

The overall effect of hearing all this is underwhelming, like going to see a Bears-Packers game only to discover they're playing flag football. The impression is probably not accidental or unwanted. What Johnson and Weld plainly aim to do is assure Americans disgusted by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump that the Libertarian Party offers an honest, proven approach, not a radical experiment. 

Harvard's Gregory Mankiw, who served as chairman of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, has written that he regards himself as a "libertarian at the margin." He explained, "Given our starting point today, I believe more reliance on individual liberty and less on governmental solutions is usually a step in the right direction, but I often recoil at more radical libertarian positions." 

In that sense, Johnson's claim that most Americans are unwitting libertarians is entirely plausible. In principle, at least, they would most likely favor reducing taxes and spending, respecting individual autonomy in matters like marijuana, same-sex marriage and education, and exercising more caution about military intervention abroad. But those inclinations have firm limits, which Johnson doesn't propose to breach. 

A couple of pleasant but obscure former governors representing a minor party may sound like an unpromising use of your ballot. Until you remember the alternatives.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc. 

NEXT: Cruz Doesn't Endorse Trump, Tells People to Vote Their Consciences, Gets Booed

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  1. Now that they are on the ballot they can abandon the fringe that got them there. Thanks and buh-bye.

    1. Exactly, If they’re going to win the 0.5% fringe is a rounding error.
      Here’s hoping they do win. Worst case we would have to start a new pro-Liberty party.
      They’re still orders of magnitude better than Trump-Clinton.

  2. I’m writing in Michael hihn! I’m writing in Michael hihn!

    1. That must be done in crayon with some of the letters written backward.

        1. Captain Morgan’s Private Stock is good too. Much better than their standard rum for only a little more money.

  3. Don’t settle for a center-left Republican-squish


    1. What’s Trump?

      1. An effective cult of personality.

        1. This. It’s hard to say which is more nauseating, the Trumptards of ’16 or the Obamatons in ’08.

      2. A classy leader with yuge ambitions to make America great again!

        1. I’ve heard from a reliable source that he is ‘very well liked.’

      3. Why don;t we just splice them together in a teleport like Brundlefly. Then they could merge to become Trump Johnson.

    2. Shill harder, boy! The libertarians are escaping Daddy’s plantation!

    3. What if I have 3 tequilas?

      1. That’s a good start.

    4. #NeverJohnson


      1. And here I was thinking it was pro-lesbian.

    5. Don’t settle for a narcissistic carnival barker with no guiding principles whatsoever. #NeverTrumpe

      Seriously, if ever there were a year to not be a partisan zombie, this is it. Trump is the antithesis of small, rights-respecting government. We’ve been building the imperial presidency for decades, and Trump is the point where all subterfuge falls away and we have a blatant strongman bully in charge. Fuck that.

      1. Or a corrupt criminal who, if there was still rule of law in this country, would be under indictment or already in prison. #NeverShrillary.

        1. Exactly. For one, vote for a third party. Jesus fuck.

          1. vote for a third party

            I intend to. I voted for Johnson in ’12, and I’ll do it again this year. Clinton and Trump both deserve a date with a woodchipper.

            1. As I stated before, I voted for Barr/Root.

              Voting Johnson/Weld is easy in comparison.

              1. Great point. Funny to see people bitching about Johnson when he has way more libertarian bonafides than Barr ever did.

              2. Barr/Root is the only LP ticket I couldn’t punch. I wrote in Ron Paul.

                Though I did vote for Perot back in the day, but not out of dislike for the LP guy.

                1. I voted Bush in 88, Perot in 92 and LP every election since.

                  1988 is the only one I would take back if I could.

                2. I’ll be writing in Ron Paul in November. The alternative is not voting at all, since there will be no one actually on the ballot that I can force myself to vote for this time.

      2. Hillary is the antithesis of humanity and goodness.

    6. Johnson meets the bar of acceptable for me. I’ll support him with a vote. You can go vote Trump if you choose.

    7. Yeah, settle for a national socialist instead. Because Hillary.

    8. Based on the picture, he only leans about ten or fifteen degrees to the left.

      1. The benefit of a Trump vote is that it is becoming more and more obvious that he’s not going to be able to get zip-squat-diddly-piss done because both the establishment left and the establishment right will be doing everything in their power to prevent it. (they can’t afford to let an outsider succeed)
        Thus not only will his presidency only come to benefit from him saying things that need to be said (something he actually ‘is’ good for doing) but it will create a very high likelihood that the two statist main-stream parties will finally be given no choice but to reign in the power of the executive office and start stomping down on the abuse of executive privilege.
        If Gary and the LP are doing their typical pathetic-as-hell election efforts, I may vote Trump to send a clear message to the Republitards in so long as it still appears obvious he won’t get zip done.

  4. True libertarians vote for the perfect libertarian. If one doesn’t exist (and one never does) then they choose based on who will most vigorously enforce forced accommodations for homosexuals. Duh. Everyone knows this.

    1. For me personally, fiscal policy is about 1000x more important than public accommodation laws (regardless if they’re about race, sex, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or something else).

      1. For me personally, fiscal policy is about 1000x more important than public accommodation laws

        Agreed, along with the decimation of our 4th amendment rights courtesy of warrant-less NSA surveillance, the destruction of property rights through eminent domain abuse, ending the war on at least one drug (while focusing on harm reduction for the others as opposed to kicking in doors at 3am and throwing flashbangs into toddler’s playpens), and about 100 other issues.

        But I guess we’re doing libertarianism all wrong. Gay wedding nazi cakes are THE defining issue of our time, apparently.

        1. The only important liberties are the ones involving guns and gay cake.

          1. And here I thought it was all about “weed, Mexicans and ass-sex.”

      2. For me it’s regulation and trade.

    2. Or based on who hates immigrants the most. Everyone’s gotta have their favorite flavor of derp.

    3. Nice try, but what is the point of voting for a libertarian that wants to force businesses to serve customers against their will? Who claims to want to abolish unfair taxation by replacing it with a ‘fair tax’? (I’m sure calling it ‘fair’ will make it so right?) Who claims to want to end redistribution of wealth via social welfare by replacing it with a socialist ‘living wage’? Who picks a running mate that supports gun control legislation and the use of eminent domain?

      If it was one or maybe two non-libertarian ideas, you might be able to apologize for it, but the more this guy talks the more anti-libertarian he becomes!

      1. What’s the point of supporting the most Libertarian candidate in American history to break 10% in the polls? Are you really asking that question?

        Because liberty has been served soooo well by all the .1%ers we’ve run over the years, right?

  5. Details a little sketchy. I used to work on this road. Definitely gangland central.

    Police: Gunman opened fire on Columbus officers with ‘high caliber firearm…..-shooting/

    1. A “high caliber firearm”, eh?

      If that’s not an assault weapon I don’t know what is.

      1. “High Calibre”? .420?

        1. No, a .75 caliber Standard Pattern Brown Bess.

      2. I bet it was a 50 caliber muzzleloader.

      3. Anything above a .22

        1. Well, when you’re dealing with a media that includes folks who claim to have gotten PTSD after a single attempt at firing an AR-15…..

        2. .38, .39, whatever it takes…………

    2. high caliber firearm

      I’m gonna guess that by this they mean “gun”. This is probably someone who thinks gun caliber refers to muzzle velocity, not the internal diameter of the barrel — or even just tosses random adjectives out that approximate the meaning of “scary”.

      1. random adjectives out that approximate the meaning of “scary”.

        “Gary Johnson is a high caliber candidate!”

      2. They mean quality. It was finely crafted with elegant scrolling. Perhaps even “classy.”

    3. If this “high caliber firearm” turns out to be an AR-15 or other .223 caliber rifle, my head’s gonna explode from an overload of rage.

      1. “High caliber” for me doesn’t start until you are somewhere north of .308.

  6. Why settle for bad candidates?

    Odd subtitle on an article trying to shill Johnson.

    1. “Why settle for bad candidates, when you can settle for not-as-bad ones?”

    2. Right, the LP would have been sooo much better off nominating “suspected murderer”* John McAfee or professional internet troll, Austin Petersen instead.

      *This is how the media would have presented McAfee and by election day 99.9% of voters would have believed that he really did murder his neighbor.

      1. The Democrats nominated a “suspected murderer”.

        Not that I suggest following that plan.

        1. But as we all know, there’s different rules for the major parties. Because FYTW.

    3. When a political party thinks they may actually have a shot at winning, they end up making “Team” appeals. The only pure party is one that has no chance.

  7. I am pushing 70 and have come to the conclusion that the American people may be some of the stupidist people on this planet. We as a people consistently complain about what our government is doing but march to the polls every two years, vote for the same candidates and expect change. I hear the media say the that more and more people are becoming independent but they still only vote for one of the two major parties that they complain about.
    The Democrats are marching swiftly towards socialism. They believe that they create an Utopian world by regulating everything and making everyone into perfect little clones.
    The Republicans want to eradicate choice and created a perfect world that is free of sin.
    Both want the State to control every aspect of your life with no free will. Now do I believe the Libertarian Party is going to save America. No I don’t but at least they are willing to except that people are different and have different ideals. If you want change you have to step out of your box long enough to realize that the people you have been voting for over and over are the same people that have selling you out over and over.

    1. As I’ve been saying, Trump proves that white people are on average just as stupid as blacks and hispanics. Racial supremacy is obviously bullcrap. Retards are everywhere and of every color.

    2. My inlaws told me about a senator whose votes were always what they would have personally voted. So they liked him. But Dole was nicer in person, so they were more enthusiastic about Dole. Because he asked them how they felt before voting the other way?

      1. When I lived in Mississippi I knew some Republicans who detested an incumbent Democratic senator but were going to vote for him anyway. When I asked them, “Why?!” they said the incumbent had been in the Senate for many years and had a lot of influence and was a member of several important committees, whereas a freshman Republican replacement would have little influence and be able to accomplish little. I said, “But the incumbent uses his power and influence to do things that you don’t want!” They replied, “Yes, but at least Mississippi has a voice in what happens! If our incumbent loses then senators from other states will control those committees.” They would rather have someone from their own state making the wrong decisions than let someone from another state make the right decisions.

    3. There are little nuggets of change. People like Eric Cantor being primaried out, and the ouster of John Boner. Paul Ryan may be next. I’m in Cathy McMorris Rogers district, and we have some slim hope of getting her off the general election ballot.

  8. Why risk radical change when you can have the status quo? Vote Libertarian! The last, best hope of the beltway establishment!

    1. Yeah! Since advocating entitlement reform and cutting the budget by 20% are completely status quo!

      1. They better keep quiet about the entitlement plank or they’ll lose Nick’s vote.

    2. Trump represent radical change? I thought he wanted to blow a bunch of money on infrastructure spending, not do anything about entitlements, and impose a bunch of tarriffs on the Chinese.
      So basically, radical like a retread of the New Deal.

  9. The overall effect of hearing all this is underwhelming

    Especially if you’re a statist shitheel who wants the government to DO SOMETHING about every little “problem.”

  10. On almost every issue, Johnson’s policies move us in the direction of greater freedom. This isn’t some lesser of three evils situation, this is something libertarians should be able to legitimately support.

    1. B-b-but… GAY NAZI CAKES!!11!!1!!!!!!! /THE defining issue of out time /sarc

    2. Get on the blandwagon!

  11. Who’s the libertarian alternative to Johnson you teased in the title? I might vote for him! Or her!

    1. No matter what Chapman writes, he’s voting for Hillary.

  12. Si why did the Libertarians settle for Johnson and Weld?

    1. They wanted to have the most qualified ticket with the best chance to win for once?

    2. Two Republican governors is the perfect ticket for the Libertarian party at this point; Republican voters are up for grabs and the GOP could collapse and disappear with the Trump movement.

      Focus on that in 2016; becoming the 2nd major party, a serious, viable, broad alternative to the statism and collectivism of the Democratic party. Worry about ideological purity in 2020

  13. “He and Weld are what you might call kinder, gentler Libertarians.”

    No, that’s what a banal New Democrat like you would call it, because kinder and gentler means acquiescing to just a tad more theft from your rulers. But it’s good intentions and all that.

    1. Because George H W Bush is what you want to invoke from a Libertarian candidate.

    2. So actually, less kind and less gentle Libertarians, but still the best choice by far of the 3 national party candidates.

  14. If you were a pilot lost over the ocean and running out of fuel…

    Geez guys, don’t call the LP candidate a tiny island. Johnson is sensitive to size jokes.

    I thought you would go this route:

    …would you want a pilot who had crashed and burned in every plane she had tried to fly?

    ….or would you want a pilot who had no idea how to fly and wouldn’t listen to anyone’s advice but his own?

    …or someone who had flown planes safely before, who thought following the flight rules and the instruction manual were good ideas?

    1. …would you want a pilot who had crashed and burned in every plane she had tried to fly?

      Is McCain running again?

      1. I like my war heroes to not get captured, and not to lose expensive government hardware.

    2. That would have been a far better analogy. Chapman should hire you to ghost write for him.

  15. I left my office-job and now I am getting paid 99 usd hourly. How? I work over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was forced to try something different, 2 years after…I can say my life is changed-completely for the better! Check it out what i do…

    Go to the web=======>

  16. Stop drinking or toking for a few hours, sober up, then read the following. It’s not very original but in its own way is quite profound. I did not “invent” it so nobody will whine for days and days if you choose to “plagiarize” me. Well here it goes:


    1. If you want credibility, don’t use all caps. – No one cares what a shouter says.

      They are both two sides of the same coin. – Both parties are completely corrupt.

    2. Yeah…EXCEPT Johnson is pulling equally from Republicans and Democrats.

      So, um…nice try.

      1. Yeah, but he’s losing to ‘Giant Meteor striking the earth’ by 8 points in national polls. I wonder if this is why his new ad campaign today refers to their ticket as ‘the Comet’? He is trying to pull support from the Giant Meteor apocalypse alternative too?

  17. End the fraudulent, federal, marijuana prohibition with two clicks!


  18. Only if you don’t want to win.
    See: Samuel Goldwyn!

  19. Libertarian alternative?!? More like Republican-lite alternative.

    He supports forcing people to do business with people against their will.
    He claims to be against involuntary taxation and the IRS but intends to replace them with a flat tax.
    He says he’ll do away with Welfare, but replace it with a socialist ‘living wage’.

    His running mate endorsed the establishment lackey, Kasich, supported gun-control legislation and the use of eminent domain.

    What’s libertarian about him other than the fact he’ll support you getting high and turn us into a bunch of isolationist pussies even when faced with people who have vowed to kill us?

  20. So this would be the guy who thinks a Jewish baker should be forced by law to bake a cake with a swastika on it for a Nazi, yes?

  21. and there’s no way the Libertarian Party has anywhere near the means to get enough of their voters to the polls on election day.

  22. Those are nonsensical and false objections. – I have followed the career of Gary Johnson since he was governor of New Mexico. He has the very rare quality of being totally honest and completely on the side of the people, opposing the corrupt political machines. – He transcends the Libertarian Party, just like he transcended the Republican Party.

  23. It depends on where you live. In California, for example, your vote for President doesn’t count unless you’re a Democrat.
    Your Party registration is the only thing that will guarantee attention from the political class.

  24. No. – Bernie Sanders showed that isn’t true. – He was totally outside the corrupt political machine.

  25. Johnson needs to give a series of well-written, rehearsed, staged “major policy speeches”, on foreign policy, the economy, terrorism, immigration, healthcare, etc.

    His improvised tv interviews are awful, incoherent. He doesn’t seem to have much of a stump speech, beyond a few lines he keeps repeating over and over.

    1. You’ve got a good point. – He needs a good campaign manager and speech writer, for sure.

  26. Its incredibly frustrating that in a year like this one where a strong candidate could really make a case to get into the debates that Johnson’s weaknesses are holding him back so much. Ron or Rand could really make a splash perhaps. That said I think his showing and Cruz’s crash and burn demonstrate the lack of appeal of both federalist and libertarian solutions in the Republican party.

    This year would have been a good year to pitch the libertarian message in a serious way to independents and dissaffected dems.

    I think most of you misplace your criticism of Johnson. Its refreshing to see a guy who holds such beliefs opposite of mine ie pro choice, pro living wage, wedding cake issue..exc. who makes no bones about the fact that they are state issues. We always need to separate how a candidate feels personally about issues vs how they treat constitutional restraints on power.f Johnson seems to pass muster in his commitment to the devolution of power to the states even when he has policy preferences. He’s got my vote just for that.

  27. I’ve voted for the Libertarian candidate since 1996. I cannot stomach that Johnson chose to run with William Weld, a traitor to his party that accepted an ambassador appointment from the rapist bolshevik bill clinton.

  28. The two factions in the Republicrat oligarchy have been puking up more and more dismal excuses for candidates until now it seems to have reached the dry heaves stage with the two crabby old farts the American people are being presented with. It’s refreshing to have not one but two experienced, politically agile former governors on an alternative ticket.

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