Gary Johnson on Principles & Values

Libertarian presidential nominee; former Republican NM Governor


Only third-party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states

It rankles Gary Johnson he won't be onstage with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the final presidential debate. "Really, really it just sucks--no other way to put it," the Libertarian presidential nominee said. "I'm the only third-party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states."

Johnson has been absent from the stage in all three presidential debates because he's unable to meet the national polling threshold of 15% in five major national polls. Johnson said if he were allowed to participate, he could, perhaps, force Clinton & Trump to "actually talk about issues, instead of seeing them talk about how they're going to kill one another," Johnson said.

Johnson, who has done well with millennial voters, has sought to shore up that support by reaching out to young people who backed Bernie Sanders. This week Johnson released a campaign video highlighting issues on which he says he and Sanders share common ground--among them, opposition to the Iraq war and marijuana legalization.

Source: Los Angeles Times on Third 2016 Presidential Debate , Oct 19, 2016

I offer choices beyond the same old red vs. blue

My America is about the freedom to make choices, pursue your dreams and use your skills as entrepreneurs. It is about having more choices than just red versus blue. I'm offering that choice. I wasn't part of the presidential debate on Monday, but as Americans listened in dismay to the so-called major parties' candidates, Google searches for 'Gary Johnson' skyrocketed.
Source: N. Y. Times OpEd by Johnson: First 2016 Presidential Debate , Sep 26, 2016

Socially tolerant: let people make their own choices

Q: Who is Gary Johnson?

JOHNSON: Well, I've been an entrepreneur my entire life. I'm also an athlete, and I was the two-term governor of New Mexico, getting to be the governor in a state that's 2 to 1 Democrat, and I'd never run for political office prior to running for governor of New Mexico. Got re-elected. Of course, Bill and I are both in that same category.

Q: And what is a libertarian?

JOHNSON: In broad-brush strokes, fiscally conservative, socially accepting, tolerant. Look, people should be able to make choices in their own lives, always come down on the side of choice. And then from a military intervention standpoint, look, we're not isolationists in any way whatsoever, but we're noninterventionists. We don't want to get involved in other countries' affairs. We think that the interventions that have gone on have resulted in a less safe world, not a more safe world.

Source: CNN Libertarian Town Hall: joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jun 22, 2016

The God that I speak to doesn't have a particular religion

Q: Do you pray and do you believe in God?

JOHNSON: I have to admit to praying once in a while, and, yes, I do believe in God.

WELD: Same on both.

Q: Do you ascribe to a particular religious philosophy?

JOHNSON: I was raised a Christian. I do not attend church. And if there's one thing that I've taken away from Christianity, do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Q: Why don't you go to church?

JOHNSON: I don't [because] the God that I speak to doesn't have a particular religion.

Source: CNN Libertarian Town Hall: joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jun 22, 2016

OpEd: "Never Trump" legitimate conservative alternative

Gary Johnson did run as a Republican once, and won, for governor of New Mexico. The "Never Trump" movement struggles with the decision of whether to run a conservative alternative in the general election--but there already is an alternative, who is on the ballot in all 50 states and who embodies more conservative principles than Donald Trump. Governor Johnson might not satisfy the Tea Party nor religious right, but he certainly does satisfy the goal of a legitimate alternative to Trump on the right.

The mainstream media are beholden to the two-party system. If the mainstream media were willing to cover a multi-partisan campaign, Rand Paul would run for the Libertarian Party nomination; Mike Huckabee might run for the Constitution Party nomination; Donald Trump would once again run for the Reform Party nomination. And if all of that happened, American democracy would be greatly improved--more thoughtful, more diverse, more inclusive, and, overall, more.... democratic.

Source: Trump/Clinton/Stein/Johnson On The Issues, by Jesse Gordon , May 15, 2016

Isn't limiting Christmas why we broke away from England?

Johnson's political positions have held strong against religion in politics. While his former presidential opponents Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney & Newt Gingrich would regularly pontificate about the virtues of asking God for guidance, Johnson was saying things like: "As much as I hate the fact that the ACLU would tell a community that they can't hang a Christmas tree in the lobby and play Christmas music in a public building, isn't that why we became the United States of America? Isn't that why we broke away from England?"

And: "I do remember one of the Christian conservative leaders in New Mexico talking to me and said, 'You know Gary, it isn't so much that I disagree with what you're saying about drugs, its that God disagrees with what you have to say about drugs'. And I wanted to ask him at the time, with his intimate connection with God, could he just get a copy of next Thursday's Wall Street Journal?"

One could reasonably assume that Johnson thinks religious zealotry is kind of stupid.

Source: HollowVerse.com, "Religion views of the influentials" , May 2, 2016

Republicans make me cringe; even kooky Libertarians don't

Now that Johnson is threatening to siphon votes from Mitt Romney in close elections (he's on the ballot in 46 states), Republicans are doing whatever they can to limit his appeal. In Pennsylvania, the GOP hired a private detective who went to canvassers' homes and flashed his old FBI badge before questioning the signatures they collected, a lawyer for Johnson's campaign alleged. The state GOP and the investigator denied doing anything improper. (On Oct. 10 a judge decided that Johnson will be on the Pennsylvania ballot.) The experience has left Johnson alienated from some of his old comrades--which, it turns out, he doesn't mind at all. "Going to Republican events, as I did a zillion times, I listened to Republican candidates do their spiel. I cringed at a lot of what they said, whether it was abortion, the terrorist threat, the homophobia, the 'illegal immigrant is the source of all our problems'--man, that stuff made me crazy. The kook element of the Libertarians gets up, and I don't cringe.
Source: Time Magazine, "Swampland", by Joel Stein , Nov 1, 2012

1972: George McGovern-supporting anti-Vietnam War pot smoker

Born in Minot ND, Johnson was a George McGovern-supporting anti-Vietnam War pot smoker who went to high school and college in New Mexico and started his empire as a door-to-door handyman. He still has a Midwesterner's accent and decency: he says things like "holy cow" and "Katie, bar the door." His running mate, whom Johnson met at a drug-legalization conference, says Johnson often seems to lack ego. "He said to me, 'If you have different ideas than I do, feel free to say that publicly.' "
Source: Time Magazine, "Swampland", by Joel Stein , Nov 1, 2012

Side-by-side issue comparison to Mitt Romney

Gary Johnson will be on the ballot as a presidential candidate in all 50 states in November. He was elected twice as Governor of New Mexico, as a Republican, but was barred from the early Republican primary debates, so he switched parties to Libertarian. Gov. Johnson will be similarly excluded from the presidential debates, under the rules determined by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a "bipartisan" organization run by the Democrats and the Republicans (but with no Libertarian representation). Our OnTheIssues book provides the equal coverage that the debates will not provide, including a direct comparison of Johnson vs. Romney these issues:
Source: Paperback: Obama-Romney-Stein-Johnson On The Issues , Aug 11, 2012

My desire to serve has been with me since childhood

My dad always told me to set goals and often made statements like, "When you become President." and "When you become a millionaire.."

My desire to serve has been with me for as long as I can remember. As early as fourth grade, I remember thinking I would like to run for high office someday. When my teacher did a class survey, I was voted most likely to become President of the US. That might have been when the political bug bit me.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 11-13 , Aug 1, 2012

I view government in the same way as philosopher Ayn Rand

Without exception, I am a civil libertarian. I believe in the supremacy of individual rights and personal freedoms above unwarranted government interference or control.

Overall, I think I view big government in the same way that the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand did--that it really oppresses those that create, if you will, and tries to take away from those that produce and give to the non-producers.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 31 , Aug 1, 2012

Seven Principles of Good Government for work & life

I base my decisions, both personally and professionally, on seven principles that I've derived from my experiences.
  1. Become reality-driven. Don't kid yourself or others. Base your decisions and actions on what's what.
  2. Always be honest and tell the truth. It is extremely difficult to damage people who are willing to tell the truth.
  3. Always do what's right and fair. Remember, the more you accomplish, the louder your critics become. Learn to ignore them. Maintain your integrity and continue to do what's right.
  4. Determine your goal. Develop a plan to reach that goal. Then act--don't procrastinate.
  5. Make sure everyone who ought to know what you're doing, knows what you're doing.
  6. Don't hesitate to deliver bad news. Acknowledge mistakes immediately. There may still be time to salvage things or make corrections.
  7. Be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. If your job doesn't excite you enough to follow this principle, resign and find a job you love.
Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 5-7 , Aug 1, 2012

Graduated from UNM and married college sweetheart

I graduated from UNM in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in political science, married my college sweetheart Denise "Dee" Simms, and started my own business, which eventually became Big J Enterprises.

Near the end of college, I'd been working construction for a contractor who built from the ground up. It was good fortune for me: I learned electrical, foundations, masonry, sheetrock, framing and painting. But the contractor ran out of work, and I needed about $30 a week to get by. So, I started looking around for other jobs.

I passed out circulars door-to-door that read, "College student needs work. Will do carpentry, painting, cement, anything and everything." That was the origin of Big J.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 15-16 , Aug 1, 2012

Gave fiancee "Atlas Shrugged" to explain his politics

I called her. I was nervous. I left a long phone message, wondering whether she had any interest in a relationship with a 55-year-old ski bum. About 3 months later, Kate called me back. She'd broken up with her boyfriend again. For good, this time. And she would love to see if a relationship was possible. We've been together pretty much ever since.

Kate is beautiful, she's athletic, she's smart. We're in love. I asked her to marry me while we were on a chair lift at Taos. At one point, early in our time together, Kate asked me about my politics and political philosophy. What it was, how I'd come to it. I gave her a copy of "Atlas Shrugged." Kate and I each wear an engagement ring.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 60 , Aug 1, 2012

Let people drive 75 mph & buy beer on Sundays

He also signed a bill to let New Mexicans drive 75 mph on highways, and another one to let them buy beer on Sundays. ("Why not? That's a stupid rule. People can make their own decisions about what day of the week they want a beer.") And when litter became a problem on the highways, he organized a bike race from one end of the state to the other in which, in his Pearl Izumi spandex, he led a flotilla of New Mexicans to collect the garbage.
Source: Lisa DePaulo in GQ Magazine , Nov 1, 2011

Favorite philosopher: Milton Friedman

Q: You claim to advocate capitalism. So, who in America is your favorite businessman?

A: Steve Jobs comes to mind--he represents incredible innovation. Maybe Bill Gates. I didn't have any business heroes growing up. One of the realities of my life is that those I thought were heroes were not.

Q: Who is your favorite political philosopher?

A: [Chicago economist and Free to Choose author] Milton Friedman.

Source: Interview by Scott Holleran on scottholleran.com blog , Aug 21, 2011

Tea Party insures that Republicans are part of the solution

Q: What role do you think the Tea Party will play in the 2012 elections?

A: By giving voice to millions of Americans who are not satisfied with the traditional parties. And insuring that Republicans who are nominated will be part of the solution, not the problem.

Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

Calls himself classical liberal; others prefer libertarian

Johnson calls himself a "classical liberal," though others might prefer "libertarian." He favors legalizing marijuana (he says he toked up as recently as 2008) and prostitution and supports a woman's right to choose, liberal immigration reform and an anti-war foreign policy--even as he's called for draconian spending cuts and for dropping the corporate tax rate to zero as a means to jumpstart jobs creation.
Source: Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone Magazine , Jun 15, 2011

Majority of America is fiscal conservative & social liberal

Q: Are you a Republican or a libertarian?

A: The majority of Americans are classical liberals--fiscal conservatives and social liberals--who believe that the best government is the government that rules the least and the best that government can do for me, the individual, is to allow me as an individual to make the choices and the decisions that only I can make. When that crosses over the line and I potentially can do harm to others, that's when the government needs to step in.

Source: Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone Magazine , Jun 15, 2011

Religious affiliation: Lutheran.

Johnson : religious affiliation:

The Adherents.com website is an independent project and is not supported by or affiliated with any organization (academic, religious, or otherwise).

What’s an adherent?

The most common definition used in broad compilations of statistical data is somebody who claims to belong to or worship in a religion. This is the self-identification method of determining who is an adherent of what religion, and it is the method used in most national surveys and polls.

Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person’s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There’s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.

Source: Adherents.com web site 00-ADH5 on Nov 7, 2000

Member, National Governors Association/Economic Development.

Johnson is a member of the National Governors Association:

The National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington’s most respected public policy organizations. NGA provides governors with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing policy reports on innovative state programs and hosting networking seminars for state government executive branch officials. The NGA Center for Best Practices focuses on state innovations and best practices on issues that range from education and health to technology, welfare reform, and the environment. NGA also provides management and technical assistance to both new and incumbent governors.

Since their initial meeting in 1908 to discuss interstate water problems, governors have worked through the National Governors Association to deal with issues of public policy and governance relating to the states. The association’s ongoing mission is to support the work of the governors by providing a bipartisan forum to help shape and implement national policy and to solve state problems.

Fortune Magazine recently named NGA as one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying organizations due, in large part, to NGA’s ability to lead the debate on issues that impact states. From welfare reform to education, from the historic tobacco settlement to wireless communications tax policies, NGA has influenced major public policy issues while maintaining the strength of our Federalist system of government.

There are three standing committees—on Economic Development and Commerce, Human Resources, and Natural Resources—that provide a venue for governors to examine and develop policy positions on key state and national issues.

[Note: NGA positions represent a majority view of the nation’s governors, but do not necessarily reflect a governor’s individual viewpoint. Governors vote on NGA policy positions but the votes are not made public.]

Source: National Governors Association web site www.NGA.org 01-NGA0 on Jan 1, 2001

Member of Republican Governors Association.

Johnson is a member of the Republican Governors Association:

Founded in 1963, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is the official public policy and political organization of the Republican governors and governors-elect of the United States of America

    RGA Mission Statement
  1. To assist in the solution of significant national public policy problems.
  2. To enable the Republican governors to take their proper position in expressing the philosophy of the Republican Party within the national party framework.
  3. To assist in the election of Republican gubernatorial candidates and the reelection of incumbent governors.
  4. To provide a mechanism to facilitate communications and cooperation among its members; with local, state and national Party organizations; with Republicans in the US Congress; and with Republicans in the Executive branch of government during a Republican administration.
The RGA also will work closely with local officials, including state legislators, mayors, county executives and other municipal and county leaders to assist in a free exchange of ideas. As it looks ahead, the RGA is preparing for the 2001- 2002 election cycle in which 38 gubernatorial seats, with 25 seats currently held by Republicans, will be at stake. The cycle begins this year with two highly competitive races, in New Jersey and Virginia. For this and the 36 races in 2002, the RGA will create strong recruiting and fundraising programs to provide maximum political assistance to all Republican candidates.

The RGA will enhance the visibility of the Association as a unified policy-making and political force with the national media, business community and government through a coordinated communications strategy. By building more awareness of the policies of the Republican governors, the political and policy objectives of the Association as a whole can be achieved. Currently, there are 29 Republican governors representing roughly 60 percent of the American people.

Source: Republican Governors Association website, rga.policy.net 01-RGA1 on Aug 15, 2001

Member of the Western Governors' Association.

Johnson is a member of the Western Governors' Association:

Established in 1984, the Western Governors' Association is an independent, non-partisan organization of governors from 18 western states and three U.S.-flag Pacific islands. The Association was formed to provide strong leadership in an era of critical change in the economy and demography of the West. The Western Governors recognize that many vital issues and opportunities shaping our future span state lines and are shared throughout the West.


Through their Association, the Western Governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management. Governors select the issues based on regional interest and impact. WGA helps the governors develop strategies both for the complex, long-term issues facing the West and for the region's immediate needs. Governors use the WGA to develop and advocate policies that reflect regional interests and relationships in debates at the national and state levels.
    The WGA has six basic objectives:
  1. Develop and Communicate Regional Policy
  2. Serve as a Leadership Forum
  3. Build Regional Capacity
  4. Conduct Research and Disseminate Findings
  5. Form Coalitions and Partnerships to Advance Regional Interests
  6. Build Public Understanding and Support for Regional Issues and Policy Positions
Source: Western Governors' Association Mission Statement 01-WGA0 on Aug 17, 2001

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