Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson Returns to Politics! (As Soon As He Finishes This Cross Country Bike Tour)

The Libertarian Party nominee is back, ready to fight policies that are "insane," "nationalist," and "doomed to fail" with his Our America Initiative.


Gary Johnson is back. Well, almost.

By the end of today, the two-time Libertarian Party candidate for president will be midway of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests in northern Colorado more than 1,400 miles into the 2,800-mile Tour Divide bicycle race. (You can track him here, although he is occasionally deviating from the race route.)

Before leaving for Banff, Alberta, the former two-term governor of New Mexico made plans to return to politics, to mobilize "the largest grassroots army of liberty activists in the nation."

Johnson and strategist Ron Nielson have relaunched Our America Initiative, a website "giving voice to the notion of less government and greater freedom, and advocating policies that will allow entrepreneurs, young people and all Americans to achieve their dreams."

Johnson issued this statement to Reason while on his Continental Divide bike route:

"In November of 2016, 4.5 million Americans cast their votes for liberty, truly free markets and a small-government alternative to the status quo. That vote total, for Governor Bill Weld and myself, is the highest for a "third party" in two decades.

That tells us something, especially given that our campaign spent roughly 1/1,000 of what the Republicans and Democrats spent—each.

It tells us that more Americans than ever are fed up with a broken political system that simply isn't offering solutions. And it tells me that those Americans deserve a voice in the debates going on in Washington, DC, and state capitals across the nation.

As a former Governor who left office after serving two terms and quietly let my successors do their things, I am a firm believer in giving a new President and a new Congress a chance. That's what we do in America. But we've now had enough time to see the directions our government is taking.

We are watching as President Trump and the Republicans seem intent on replacing Obamacare with Somebody-Else Care. The whole idea of health care reform for the past decade has purportedly been to reduce costs and increase access. Obamacare isn't doing that…and what we are seeing so far from the Republicans won't do it either.

Replacing one version of government-managed health care with another is doomed to fail. There aren't many things the federal government manages well, and our health is certainly isn't one of them. Lower costs and greater access will only come from a legitimately free market, taking the shackles off of innovation, removing crony-capitalist insulation from competition, and allowing patients, not bureaucrats, to make decisions. And to help those who truly need help, send the money to the states to shape programs that will actually work.

We've seen a budget proposed that once again ignores the 800-pound gorilla of entitlements, increases defense spending…and claims to put us on a path toward a balanced budget. That's insane, and exactly the kind of political cowardice that has given us trillions in debt.

Whether it be trade or immigration, we are watching as the politicians try to lead us down a nationalist path that is not only painful and short-sighted, but not very American.

Individual freedoms. Drug policy. Criminal justice reforms. Well, the early signs aren't good. In fact, it seems we have a government today led by folks who are determined to turn back the clock and embrace policies that have not only failed, but have eroded our freedoms almost beyond recognition.

I could go on, but one thing is clear. The voices of liberty, free markets and real freedom need to be raised. 4.5 million Americans spoke out in November, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers, activists and contributors stood up to help shape a freer, more prosperous future.

It's time to stand up once again. That's why I am stepping back into the leadership of the Our America Initiative—a not-for-profit advocacy organization with activists in all 50 states working for the freedoms, opportunities and smaller government so many Americans crave.

Politics should be a battle of ideas, not personalities. Let's put some new ideas on the table."


NEXT: Federal government surrenders in the Redskins case

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  1. *ahem*

    You seem like a nice guy Gay Jay, but please for the love of god stop running under the Libertarian party until you can appear on camera and apply cogent libertarian principles to the god damn questions being posed to you.

    That is all.

    1. +1M votes if he had. People can appreciate simple honesty when it’s up against duplicitous honesty. Against duplicitous lies, who knows …..

    2. That picture. There’s gonna be a lot of soaked panties around here.

    3. Also a speaking coach, a debate prep person/media consultant, and hell a image consultant that can teach him how to project confidence.

    4. Amen BYODB. Seriously, thought the same through out his whole “campaign”.

  2. Last time he ran, he threw his support to Hillary. Who this time around? Fauxcahantas or some outright commie?

    I’ve never been so disappointed in a LP candidate. At least with Barr, we knew where he was coming from.

    1. “At least with Barr, we knew where he was coming from”

      From the pages of the Weekly Standard?

    2. That was Weld, although I concede Johnson didn’t make a good VP pick.

      I’m not saying I want Gary to be the LP candidate in 2020 or that he couldn’t have ran a better campaign, but at the same time I still believe he was the best candidate out of the people who contested the LP nomination.

      Before Johnson’s two runs, Ed Clark was the only LP candidate to break 0.5%, more than 30 years ago. And even he still got less than a third of Johnson’s 2016 vote and finished in fourth place. I know we’d all love to see a strong LP candidate who could get 5, 10, 15% of the vote or win (obviously). And Johnson wasn’t that guy. But I think it’s important to put things into perspective – he’s raised the bar for LP performance quite a bit compared to those before him.

      1. Yeah, I think that a lot of the Johnson-bashers (nice euphemism there) assume too much about how things might have gone with a different candidate or better VP choice, or properly run campaign. He did very well for an LP candidate.

        1. In an election that was highly favorable toward third party candidates. Gary accomplished nothing. Even Jill Stein won an above average amount of votes for the Green Party. People were searching for an alternative and Johnson benefited from that. If he had actually provided a clear alternative rather than being a mushy throwback to the Reform Party, he might have done better, especially in states like Utah

          1. The election was favorable for third party candidates, but that’s a very relative thing. The top third party candidate often fails to get even 1% of the vote. And again, for the LP specifically, 0.5% was broken just one time prior to Johnson’s 2012 run.

            The problem is this – while Clinton and Trump were both disliked by over 50% of the country, most people liked at least one of them. With both having approval around 40%, we’re talking about around 80% of the country. Of the remaining 20%, a lot of them were ultimately always going to vote for the one they disliked least, out of pure partisanship, hatred of the other, etc. Others are the type that don’t vote, or won’t bother voting if they don’t like a big 2 candidate. Out of the people left, they were a very fractured group – you had Bernie supporters, establishment/moderate Republicans, staunch conservatives, libertarians, and disaffected centrists. It’s pretty hard to run a campaign that appeals to all those groups. Johnson tried to offer a little bit to everyone, and he certainly could have triangulated better, but I really don’t think there was this easily capturable voting block that he missed that was a huge chunk of the electorate.

            1. Much as I do t particularly like Johnson, the argument that how hated the other candidates were should’ve helped him a lot is actually pretty flawed I now realize. The more people on one side hate the guy on the other side, the *less* likely they are to vote third party, and more likely to swallow their lesser evil.

              Libertarian candidates will perform best not when each candidate is viewed as a vile extremist by the other side, but rather when each candidate is viewed as indistinguishable from the other one by many voters.

          2. Yeah, maybe. Who knows?

          3. Johnson’s chances in Utah were doomed as soon as McMullin ran. Sure, he did things that would have decreased his ceiling there even without him, but the people turned off by that likely would prefer McMullin any way. He was essentially the perfect third party candidate for Utah in 2016. There’s a reason he got 20% of the vote in Mormon areas and 1% elsewhere (in places he was on the ballot). The fact that he and other third party conservative candidates like Darrell Castle got little traction (again, with the exception of Mormon-heavy areas for McMullin) should indicate that Johnson wasn’t missing out on a huge number of conservative voters who were ready to vote third party.

            Again, could Johnson have run a better campaign? Absolutely. Would he have done better? Sure. But IMO we’re talking about a difference of a couple percentage points at most. Maybe he could have broke 5%. But numbers 10, 15, or 20% were always big longshots. And I don’t think the alternatives for the LP would have done better than he ended up doing.

          4. In an election that was highly favorable toward third party candidates.

            It actually wasn’t – regardless of what summer polls say. Negative campaigns like Trump/Clinton simply reduce the likely turnout among those who despise both. And they mobilize the D/R twits into believing that it’s TEOTWATKI and voting for their preferred flavor of vomit.

            The only chance a third-party candidate can have in the US is by running during the duopoly primaries. That’s when voters interested in politics who also have skills at mobilizing others look for alternatives. Once those primaries end, it’s all top-down from then on and third parties have no hope.

        2. I think that in this election based on name recognition more than anything else ( reality show between a Clinton and a Trump), McAfee would have done much better, just running as the anti-virus guy. Everyone had to install McAfee ware at some point, he could have called Trump and Clinton viruses, etc. You see where this is going.

          1. This. As we go Idiocracy, a libertarian’s best chance to be the star of a reality TV campaign.

  3. Oh God no.

  4. By the end of today, the two-time Libertarian Party candidate for president will be midway of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests in northern Colorado more than 1,400 miles into the 2,800-mile Tour Divide bicycle race.

    Part of the race goes through scenic downtown Aleppo.

    1. Well played sir.

      1. Stupid comment. Elevate your game.

      2. Stupid comment. Elevate your game.

  5. “Gary Johnson is back”

    Hard pass

  6. Damn. The rest of these comments make me want to pat Gary on the back and tell him it gets better.

    1. He tries.

    2. Ew. I bet his back is all sweaty.

      1. That’s okay, so is my hand.

        1. Crusty?

    3. Me too. Not sure what some of the others want our expect out of a candidate. Johnson is a two-term successful governor, a successful businessman, honest, forthright, has constitutional fortitude, owes nothing to anyone, i.e., politicians or corporations, so no one can buy their way past him. I could go on and on. I’m beyond happy that he will be back in the political arena.

      1. Two time governor and how many presidential elections has he lost?

        Fuck Gary Johnson, he’s a moron.
        Also Lib Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark needs to get the boot.

        You idiots can either get behind perennial losers or fix the incredibly obvious weak points in our starting line.
        Our quarterback is sitting on the ball trying to hatch it like an egg, while our receiver is off under the bleachers, trying to find any fallen peanuts.

        1. Lacking a strong stage presence does not make one a moron. Only people whose understanding of American politics is as superficial as 30 second news clips are simple enough to get fooled by that “what is aleppo” bullshit. Unless Boaz or Gillespie decided to step up for the nomination, nobody could possibly represent the broader principles of libertarianism better than Gary Johnson.

          1. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of people. Politics is a matter of rational ignorance for a lot of people; just no time to care.

      2. I agree. A lot of people want the polished media product. I think about our politicians from pre-tv…

  7. “Gary Johnson is back”

    A good job for a quadruple amputee would be to count the “fucks given” on his fingers and toes.

  8. He says all of these things that sounds great when addressing Reason, but put him on a national stage and… bleh. Sorry Gary, you blew your best chance. Time to move on.

  9. Well, I still like Gary. Not as a presidential candidate, but this sounds pretty good.

  10. Was he searching for Aleppo during his bicycle tour?

  11. I’d still vote for Gary if the options were the same. An idiot, but a far lesser evil than the other options.

    1. I don’t think he’s dumber or more ignorant than the average politician – he’s mostly just way worse at hiding a lack of knowledge behind a steaming cloud of loquacious bullshit.

      1. I think he’s genuinely dumber than the average politician; there is a certain amount of cleverness that goes into even just knowing what you need to know and what you don’t, and Gary lacked it.

        I’m not sure it could be said Hillary was objectively more intelligent; the army of consultants and aides constantly prepping her and the sympathetic media and coming from the inside of the current admin all gave her a leg up; but it doesn’t really matter, as a cynical power hungry narcissist on the verge of becoming the most powerful person in the world is not someone you *want* to be smart. You want that person to be dumb as a rock. Profs should be perpetually relieved by Trump’s buffoonery. If he were smarter he’d get a lot more done.

      2. That’s a good thing. It’s also a good thing that Trump uses Twitter. Very valuable to know what a person is really all about.

    2. Someone else here said it best: Gary Johnson would have been the most preferable candidate to actually become president. No doubt in my mind about that. But he made a relatively poor protest vote

  12. One of the Sadz of the last year is not just that Reason continues to hitch its wagon to GayJay, but that it refuses to give him the mockery which he deserves and that is meted out to every other national buffoon.

  13. Gary Johnson Returns to Politics!


  14. Gary Johnson is back.


  15. You’re not helping, Gary.

    If you wanted to help, you’d pass the torch to someone better at this shit than you, and help them reconstitute the political movement you + Weld made a complete mess of.

    What we don’t need is more of your mumbling wishy-washy nazi-cakes-for-everyone bullshit that compromises every principle actual libertarians have in an effort to appeal to some imagined ‘on the fence’ population.

    If you want to attract people to libertarian ideas, you have to first represent them accurately. Trying to be some half-democrat/half-republican compromise is a self-defeating strategy. That doesn’t mean you have to be a purist on every issue – it just means you have to acknowledge what the principle should be while explaining why your policy position deviates from it. see: Rand Paul

    1. Uh, may i hazard a guess that this initiative is less about advancing liberty and more about putting money in the pockets of Nielson and Johnson? Ron Paul did it, every conservative “leader” since Reagan did it. You want to continue making a living? Then you set up a group and get your base to send you bucks to “make a difference.”

      1. he can try and get people to subsidize his weed-industry-lobbying all he wants, just don’t pretend to be poster-boy for libertarians anymore, please Gary.

    2. I understand the idea behind trying to see we’re “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” even though it’s somewhat misleading. He wanted disaffected Democrats, specifically Bernie voters, and figured fiscal conservatism was enough to bring over some Republicans. But I think we saw pretty clearly that the left can be brought back into the fold no matter how distasteful the Democratic candidate is. I know lots of younger Republicans who were intrigued by GayJay, but he just kept dropping the ball. That’s a demographic that’s pretty open to the whole concept of liberty and should absolutely be the target next time around

      1. Chip, wake up and smell the platforms. The DemoGOP have functionally identical platforms except for one thing: instead of legalization and expungement, the Dems adopted the Greenazi plank to tax, cripple and outlaw electric power. The GO-Pee prohibitionists had sense enough not to fall for that one, and promised to keep electricity safe and legal. That was the ONLY deliverable difference. More…

    3. There is nobody in the Libertarian Party better than Gary Johnson to pass the torch to. Austin Petersen is a walking bumper sticker with even less claim to being an experienced leader than Trump had. John McAfee’s “burn it to the ground” government philosophy probably would send the LP back 50 years. Rand Paul, Justin Amash, or Thomas Massie would be good picks, but they wouldn’t pass the purity test any better than Gary did.

      1. Austin Petersen is an antichoice mystical infiltrator and absolutely committed to the initiation of force. This looter is on video “explaining” how a policy that seeks to avoid the initiation of force is unworkable religious superstition. His Libertarian Impersonator website script will reach into your paypal account and take your money with no warning.

      2. I would add Ted Cruz. On economic issues he seems pretty libertarian, and the other issues are not as important, aside from the virtue signaling aspects.

      3. I agree with this whole-heartedly. Bill Weld was beyond a poor choice. He doesn’t pass the purity test on one issue, and the lack of pragmatism within the LP rank-and-file becomes glaringly obvious. Gary was the most pragmatic choice to advance liberty from the LP in… probably forever. The problem with Gary is that he can’t articulate his positions very well.

      4. You’ll note i never suggested purity tests, and i don’t think 3rd party ‘libertarian-appealing’ candidates necessarily need to come exclusively from within the current ranks of the LP. I think the LP are a bunch of losers frankly.

        i said that libertarians need a different poster child than gary johnson. he doesn’t recruit anyone new to the fold that we’d want in the first place, and he was a shit candidate. i’m pretty sure its not impossible to find people quasi-competent at either task, if not both.

  16. “Gary Johnson is back”

    I heard he’s a bottom.

  17. And what does he intend to do about Aleppo?

  18. I actually personally like Gary Johnson. The problem is that he is a terrible politician. To break 5% of the vote or more nationally or hell win a state or two requires a candidate who has the skills to deal with a media that is often hostile and have an ability to inspire large grassroots support. Johnson unfortunately has neither. He apparently used to back when he was Governor of New Mexico. But once he left office and decided not to run for for something else until 2012 he lost much of his political skills (use them or lose them). The ability to appear confident, to give clear and concise answers, plus the money to hire the sort of political teams that can prepare someone for questions like Aleppo or foreign leaders, etc. These are things that are needed in order to run a competent/decent campaign for President.

    If someone doesn’t have those, or at least have a lot of money and/or fame, its almost pointless to run to begin with.

  19. I am sooo thrilled about this news!! Ready to support Gary Johnson with ‘Our American Initiative” and fingers crossed, a run in 2020! Just awesome!

    1. Eh, two runs is enough. We need to cultivate younger people again.

      Also, probably try to be more grassroots rather than focusing on the presidency. But, eh, whatever.

  20. “giving voice to the notion of less government and greater freedom, and advocating policies that will allow entrepreneurs, young people and all Americans to achieve their dreams.”

    I am glad this mentions entrepreneurs since they are the heroes of our economy. See my article

    “The Calling” of the Entrepreneur

    (Published in The New Leaders: The Business Bulletin for Transformative Leadership, November/December 1992)

  21. I wish the finances of Our America Initiative were a little more transparent. I’ve looked at the 990s (tax returns) and they raise a lot of questions. This doesn’t mean there are any actual problems, but LP candidates should be totally transparent if they want my active support.

  22. well, I preferred Jill Stein/Ajamu Baraka- but GLADLY would’ve voted Gary second- and I know many Libertarians that would’ve “settled” for Jill similarly- after all, as Ron Paul cited- her foreign policy was more thoughtful, with a “crisp, libertarian message.” Rather than bickering and “splitting” the vote AGAINST third parties, there’s an option I wish Gary would advocate more- RANKED-CHOICE VOTING. Won’t be easy- WORST fear of the two parties is losing their “spoiler” scare argument…

    1. yeah, his “What is Aleppo” moment didn’t help- though I never held it against him as much as the mainstream media- at the very LEAST, as one comedian pointed out- if he doesn’t where it is- he CAN’T BOMB IT.. LOL

    2. John, you can game the current system as it stands. All it takes is integrity and votes. Search for “the case for voting Libertarian” and ask yourself how the socialists got their 1928 platform written into law if all they did was lose elections. Algebra shows us that the mean value of a libertarian spoiler vote is 21 votes squandered by fools who listened to teevee ads and talk radio. That’s some law-changing clout! Once comprehension dawns, you become unstoppable. Check it out.

  23. Gary Johnson tripled the LP’s market share. And no telling how many libertarian spoiler votes there were for state and city offices. In response to complaints that the party should run a “real” libertarian, why not nominate another Gary Johnson? We have one in Austin. This volunteer operated the Live and Let Live teevee show for something like three, maybe four decades, is knowledgeable about platforms and understands how law and elections work. The public has been brainwashed since 1971 by the Nixon law bribing the media do ignore or attack the LP, so thinking in terms of platforms and concepts has atrophied. Everyone sorry they lacked the guts to “vote Gary” can now have a second chance. Hell, they can even recycle the t-shirts and stuff. Is this a great country or what?

  24. Reason’s bizarre support of Gary Johnson is just proof that it’s not an independent magazine, but essentially in the tank for the Libertarian party.

    While that is probably an improvement over being in the tank for the Democrats or Republicans, it’s hard to take you seriously

  25. So he’s a horrible politician. Own that. Embrace the Calvin Coolidge. This isn’t the era of the smooth-talking BS artist, Obama notwithstanding.

    Given Trump’s daily batshit and the Democrats clutching pearls so tightly they’re pearls are turning into diamonds, it’s pretty quaint that everybody got so worked up over Gary’s brainfart on Aleppo.

    1. Very true! At least Gary knows what the nuclear Triad is.

  26. Someone make him take a few public speaking classes please. If he’s going to represent libertarians again, he needs to sound cogent and professional.

  27. Surprised Weld is omitted from the discussion.

    Yeah yeah yeah, not the best libertarian candidate, but maybe the best to sell libertarian ideas to people who still see the party as fringe.

    1. I agree with Qsl wholeheartedly. Speaking of pragmatism, you can’t move the country to a truly libertarian platform/president in one push. Weld would be a good compromise (and yes, libertarians should embrace compromise, otherwise we’ll always be on a fringe, like any extremists). He has a good+marketable combination of some libertarianism, a lot of pragmatism, and a polish of a traditional politician – something that Gary lacks badly. He could start the country moving in the libertarian direction. And once voters see that this direction makes real sense, next time they could vote for a candidate with stronger libertarian views. It’s a speculation, of course, but I suspect that with Weld/Johnson as opposed to Johnson/Weld, we had a chance to cross the 5% threshold.

  28. I liked Johnson but Weld was a horrible choice. Hopefully a libertarian with the charisma necessary to engage enough people will rise up.

  29. Liberals have nothing on libertarians when it comes to casting out anyone who doesn’t perfectly check every ideological checkbox

  30. Every political party will never meet the high expectations of their constituent base, that we know for a fact. As a life long Republican I was ready for a change, as were many Americans whether on the right or the left. But I will have to say that America really f#$ked up this time. The whole notion that we needed a business man outsider with no governing experience was the biggest crock of sh#t I ever heard! Gary Johnson was not perfect but he would have been the long awaited change that America needed without the drama circus freak side show.

    1. You are out of your mind if you think Gary Johnson wouldn’t have faced and absolute sh*t storm if he somehow had won the office. The Democrat and Republican establishment/Media would have lynched him for defeating Saint Hillary. America took the best choice out of a bad situation and Gary just didn’t have the sense to even choose a decent VP. You know a VP that didn’t all but endorse Hillary!

      1. “The best choice out of a bad situation”? I said nothing about a sh*t storm which I agree with you on that but it’s clear to me that you’re the one that’s out of your mind. Did you not read the last part of my comment? Sh*t storm, yeah maybe but at least we wouldn’t have to be dealing with a complete kindergartner in the Oval Office!

  31. Johnson/Weld 2020! “We fight for Hillary!”

  32. I tried to defend Johnson’s Aleppo comment at the time in a published letter to a Madison paper.

    Aleppo gaffe is forgivable Sep 12, 2016

    Let me defend Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson’s miscue on Aleppo last week. The New York Times’s article condemning Johnson’s gaffe about the besieged city in Syria needed to be corrected twice.

    So let’s not be too harsh. Johnson said he initially thought it was an abbreviation. While it turns out you could make a case that’s correct too if you wanted to do a Clintonian dance with words: “a lepo” is an abbreviation in finance, for low exercise price option.

    But Johnson gracefully acknowledged his befuddlement and calmly took the opportunity to defend a traditional American strategy. Like our first president, Johnson suggested we avoid foreign entanglements, and warned against going abroad to undertake regime change since it inevitably has unintended consequences, as George W. Bush learned in Iraq and Barack Obama learned in Libya.

    But in retrospect I gave Johnson too much benefit of the doubt. He had a perfect opportunity and failed. Yes, you argue it is a stupid game you are obliged to play in running for President. Trump made it clear, you don’t have to obey the mainstream rules of the game. I am not sure Johnson proved anything other than he was not well prepared for the opportunity presented to him

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