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Exclusive Interview: Gary Johnson Calls 2016 a ‘Tipping Point’ for Independents

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Last week amid considerable speculation, former New Mexico governor and 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, formally announced his bid for the 2016 Libertarian Party nomination. In an exclusive interview for IVN, he clarified his announcement and ambitions for his 2016 campaign.

Gary Johnson is known for a wide range of accomplishments as an entrepreneur, two-term governor, marijuana advocate, and extreme athlete. To pave the way for his presidential bid, he resigned as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc. – a position he recently described as his “dream job.”

So why aim for an even loftier goal of becoming president?

“I have a great life. I don’t need to be president. But I do need – and want – to alter the course the nation is on under the leadership of the past couple of decades,” Johnson said of his objectives.

His first hurdle is securing the Libertarian nomination. There are at least ten others vying to be the LP candidate, including computer security pioneer John McAfee.

The LP endorsement is an open, competitive process, a process which Johnson believes in.

“I’ll have to earn the nomination,” he confirmed, adding that he is the candidate most capable of “providing a voice on the national stage.”

He means that literally.

The Libertarian National Committee is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit to change the rules that obstruct third party candidates from participating in presidential debates. While the court decision is still pending, Johnson says movement is expected in the next few weeks.

“We believe we have a strong case, and that we will not only prevail, but in the process, expose the Commission on Presidential Debates as the partisan, rigged organization that it is,” he remarked.

Having a podium on the national debate stage is crucial to his success, suggesting that 2016 may be a “tipping point” in the viability of independent candidates.

Johnson believes that, like himself, the majority of voters are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. He elaborated:

“There are literally millions of Americans today who are libertarians, but frankly don’t know it. Their beliefs align with ours, and they just need a political home. We must make the LP that home.”

And Johnson is not holding back against the current field of Democratic and Republican candidates. According to Johnson, “a majority of Americans now say that neither of the two ‘major’ parties represents them,” citing little difference among Obama, Clinton, and the Republicans.

Hillary Clinton, Johnson explained, “might well surpass President Obama when it comes to spending and increasing the debt.”

“Voters have just as much to fear and oppose from Clinton as they do the Republicans,” he added

Regarding the Republican candidates, “despite their attacks on one another, when you wade through the rhetoric, there is really very little difference among them,” Johnson stated, adding:

“Donald Trump may well be bringing some new ‘anti-establishment’ voters into the equation, but that is more a matter of style than substance. On the issues, none of the Republicans are bringing any new ideas to the conversation.”

He previously expressed that Trump’s intentions are “just whacked… crazy.”

Johnson hopes that he and the LP will benefit from this.

“Our job is to connect with those voters and give them a credible, viable alternative,” he explained.

Where will his votes come from? In his announcement, Johnson asserted that “Libertarians draw as many votes from Democrats as they do from Republicans.” But conventional wisdom may suggest otherwise. When asked specifically whether he will draw votes from an already fragmented Republican electorate, he responded, “I certainly hope so.”

He added:

“It is clear that not just Republicans, but Americans across the board are rejecting the status quo. I believe 2016 has the potential to be historic in terms of the door being open for a candidate other than the Republican and Democrat to gain substantial support. Our job is to connect with those voters and give them a credible, viable alternative.”

What will constitute success?

“I want to win, and I want to serve,” answered Johnson. But he also sees success in shifting the debate and reshaping American politics, citing the examples of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

“If we change the course of the nation and restore liberty as the true American value, it will be a job well done,” he said.

Dream job or not, the presidency would be quite an achievement for Gary Johnson. But are voters truly ready to affirm his rejection of the status quo on Election Day? As Johnson maintained, “the only wasted vote is a vote for a candidate one doesn’t really believe in.”

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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364 comments
Jim Jones
Jim Jones

I'll believe it when long term, entitled members of the Senate and Congress are voted out. Until we shake that tree, nothing really changes, regardless of who's elected POTUS.

Sue Nelms
Sue Nelms

I just found out the other day about how Gary Johnson screwed the LP and the liberty movement out of a show on FBN with John Stossel and and I am furious. Gary Johnson also said nasty things about Rand for apparently no reason. Rand is doing a lot for the cause of liberty, he is in the Senate (and does appear 94% of the time for votes). He was also running for president and changing the course of the dialogue during the GOP Presidential debates. It's easy for someone to sit back and DO NOTHING and criticize others. That was really rude of Gary Johnson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhe-dXfcC_Y&feature=youtu.be

NMSportster
NMSportster

Sue Nelms is a conservative republican hack hating on Johnson.  She's been spreading hate everywhere she goes.

Sue Nelms
Sue Nelms

John Stossel gave Gary Johnson the opportunity of a lifetime to get his message out there but he turned it down. Austin Petersen and John McAfee had already signed on to the debate and were ready to present libertarian principles to the masses. Gary Johnson chickened out at the last minute and said he had a “prior engagement”. That engagement was of course the Libertarian Party of Alabama/Mississippi joint convention. The three candidates had already agreed to participate in a debate there. However, that engagement doesn’t trump the paramount goal of all libertarians: outreach. Preaching to the choir won’t help win in 2016. Libertarian candidates need to expand their message beyond the traditional venues. Going on national television for a debate is a major way to do that. It’s simple: Which of those two engagements has the best chance of getting new libertarians into the party? Which event would get the most attention for the Libertarian Party? The answer is obvious. Debating on Stossel would reach millions of voters whereas debating in some hotel ballroom only reaches the couple hundred (already libertarian) voters that show up. Every candidate obviously knows that. They would never turn down that chance willingly. Therefore, there must be another reason that Gary Johnson refused to debate. Perhaps Gary Johnson is afraid of Austin Petersen and John McAfee on national television. All three candidates have already released tongue-in-cheek statements taunting each other over this incident. But none has given any insight to the real reason that Gary Johnson refused to debate Austin Petersen and John McAfee on national television. Therefore, the question remains. - See more at: http://alibertarianfuture.com/2016-libertarian-party-nomination/is-gary-johnson-afraid-of- debating-austin-petersen-and-john-mcafee-on-national-television/#sthash.DRIyEZRn.BH5o7Typ.dpuf

Tiffany Allison
Tiffany Allison

So, I taped last night's debate and watched it when I got up at 4:00 a.m this morning. What a debacle as far as the actual organization and moderation of the debate goes. The mods were awful but no surprise there. And also of no surprise was the extremely partisan and noisy audience. I had to fight the urge to hit the mute button because otherwise I wouldn't have heard anything Mr. Trump said. I see a few think Mr. Trump was too combative and criticized GWB too much. I understand those sentiments, but I respectfully disagree. First of all being combative is one of the things I love the most about Mr. Trump. We need someone to fight the good fight for us. And secondly, he had no choice. The crowd of Bush/Rubio donors stacked in the audience made it impossible for Mr. Trump to comport himself in any other way but combative. And as far as GWB goes, for as much as I like him as a person he did make a lot of mistakes, Iraq being one of them. It's not always easy to hear harsh things about someone we like, but the truth is sometimes a cruel mistress. And it took great intestinal fortitude for Mr. Trump to stand his ground when it came to the former president. At times it felt a bit like a bar room brawl or maybe even a UFC fight! But that doesn't bother me. Political debates these days aren't for the faint of heart. And Mr. Trump battled and fought his way through a highly partisan night, triumphing in the end. He drew blood everywhere he swung his sword. Especially on Cruz and Bush. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't amicable. It wasn't full of respect or decorum. But it was meaningful and revealing. People once again got to witness the hatred the establishment has for Mr. Trump and Mr. Trump's repudiation of them in full force. Trump was magnificent in his battle to be heard over their chorus of boos. And his fingering Cruz as the worst liar around was a thing of beauty. I expected no less out of our man than what he gave us. Given the circumstances I think he did well not to straight up flatten Jeb out on the floor! Now that would have been must-see-tv! -Ron Stewart

Matt Adair
Matt Adair

I'm looking forward to all of us going back to tribal living! Need to toughen up!

Jeanette Hagen Cox
Jeanette Hagen Cox

I should have never been put in---in the first place---it is descrimination against the one most qualified in favor of a lesser qualified because of color---and sex---and women---nothing fair about it---should be highest grade point average

Douglas Brown
Douglas Brown

Unfortunately one needs to be one of the two main stream parties to win. I have voted Libertarian the past two presidents is elections but will be voting g Trump this time

Robert Ladd
Robert Ladd

The independents for one day join a party to vote in the primaries if your state does not allow them to vote as an independent. Vote against the Person you dislike the most and this will send the greatest message you can do be fore the election. After you vote change back to a independent.

Joe Baker
Joe Baker

Anything is better than trump or the 2 idiot democrats running!!

Jon J Davis
Jon J Davis

I agree. I just don't see what he will have to do with it.

Anatole Evans
Anatole Evans

Won't get my vote! I can't vote Bernie Sanders and progress then I vote trump and make things worse! Status quo is the enemy!

Kelly Spangler
Kelly Spangler

Would b impossible unless we abolish the electoral college.....which strips us of our right to actually vote and only then could we NOT have a rigged outcome!!!

Sherry Davis
Sherry Davis

What if it tips the wrong way? You are unrealistic.

Judy Darcy
Judy Darcy

60% of eligible Americans don't vote. What would it mean for America if for just one year those people would vote for anyone other than the D or R? I am supporting Gary Johnson again for this election. I am encouraging people to at least consider 3rd party & independent candidates in all races. It is time to end the status quo & the only way we get that done is to get the non-voters involved.

Woland Lovelace
Woland Lovelace

The two major parties have a choke hold because shills like Bernie Panders and Donald Trump are specifically targeting people who hate the two-party system and herding them back to that same two-party system.

James L. Butler
James L. Butler

Clinton will get nomination true super delegates. Sanders will run as independent. Bloomberg will ju pm in to stop sanders. No idea how RNC ends up. Historic election? Yes. Good for country? No. Whoever wins will end up uniting senate and house against them as 95% of Congress will still get elected and hate whatever comes out of presidential election mess. It is wrong to focus on the Presidential election so much when it is Congress with the 9% approval rating.

Andres Campos
Andres Campos

There needs to be an amendment to include a third and a fourth party to the final debates. Enough of this bipartisan racket. Also repeal Citizens United and end the super PAC mafia.

Glenda Lee Cosenza
Glenda Lee Cosenza

It might not be a tipping point in a lot of ways but for sure, it's a game changer. In what ways remains to be seen.

Ed Burrell
Ed Burrell

George Soros bought the Democrat National Committee in 2008 for $ 6 BILLION. IT WOULD SEEM NOW, that SOROS has also bought the Republican National Committee. America no longer has a 2-party system, we have a masquerade of what appears to be GOP & DEMS, WHO BEHIND THE SCENES represent George Soros.... Melania Trump "classy" first lady and Mr. Donald Trump for President "Make America Great Again" 2016... to keep America and Capitalism alive and well... After you are elected Mr. Donald Trump, set the FBI investigating the myriad thousands of organizations SOROS has created and funds, that spread propoganda across the USA, while they all donate to the various political candidates SOROS supports.

Johnny Ritchie
Johnny Ritchie

Nope. Division and gerrymandering allowed the current Republican control in the Senate in 2014. 400+ days of this Republican controlled congress, at great cost to the tax payers, what exactly have they passed for the common good of the 100% of American's? They cannot even pass legislation and funding to eliminate ISIS. They are useless to America, and do more harm, with no good.

NMSportster
NMSportster

Ok he's a nut, and how do you come to that conclusion?  He built a huge business from nothing, Became a Governor and was re-elected overwhelmingly against a very popular ABQ Mayor.   Maybe we should all be nuts?

Mike Long
Mike Long

Today is the day we look at our future. WE the little people and disabled and homless Veterans need Bernie Sanders. His plan for a Revolution to take America Back. Let ALL Vote and have our Voices heard. NO MORE GREED/GOP in controle. Lotsof seats local, State and Federal are up for grabbs. Hundres of seats so let our voices do what we need to Support BERNIE Vote from the Top Down. GO BERNIE GO

Joe Monte
Joe Monte

More people seem to think independent but just follow the crowd for self security. The time to vote independent is here, your vote has much more strength when it is divided into all areas and not following the two party bandwagon, this type of grouping always has their own agendas to follow. Once elections are over the winner's are supposed to be representing the needs of their respective voters not the parties wants. Good luck to everyone in the next elections, just my opinion...

David Bausch
David Bausch

Rejection or not Wall Street has the power to bring this nation to its knees, and it is not looking good for consumers.

David Loy
David Loy

Somebody has to stop this political machine they both have put together. Murdering a good hard working American should have been the last straw. But where are the people?

Michael Davidson
Michael Davidson

It's a tipping point only if Bernie is the candidate. If he wins, the Dems break apart. If he loses, the Dems break apart

Joseph Fleming
Joseph Fleming

Republicans have went so far right, they don't even resemble any other political party in the modern world. Democrats have become the stagnant party though. Afraid to get anything done. We need people who don't necessarily vote along party lines every time. People who vote for their states wellbeing as well as the well being of a nation, not the well being of their pockets.

Kathy Brown
Kathy Brown

I think it is time that we should be able to vote for the person NOT some party. Our elected officials are there to work FOR the people, FOR our country. Instead they all work for special interest groups and lobbyists and of course their bank accounts. It is the "parties" that run the country, say what will and what will not. Even our presidential elections are NOT by the people's Choice, but by the electoral vote. It is time for a change, it is time for the people to take back our country and make OUR elected officials actually do their jobs, NOT, look the other way, turn a blind eye to cover for the freebies they were given.

Ray Lovins
Ray Lovins

HAS BEEN STAY AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111

Bill Bidal
Bill Bidal

So happy Gary still has his illusions

Rick Gorud
Rick Gorud

AT LEAST a third if not a 4th or 5th.

Rick Gorud
Rick Gorud

Certainly it is for the pathetically corrupt DNC.

Mike Dooling
Mike Dooling

Things aren't going to change until WE, collectively change. If everybody sits on their collective butts and wait for it all to get fixed, never gonna happen. Tired of the two party? Don't vote for them, but VOTE.

Chicho Blanco
Chicho Blanco

Until we get campaign finance reform a third party candidate doesn't have a chance.

Christopher M. King
Christopher M. King

She's already been appointed the next POTUS.... here's Tom with the weather.....

Kris Hughes
Kris Hughes

It may be a tipping point for somebody, but I sure as hell don't agree with libertairians

Herb Fisher
Herb Fisher

Canada has more than 4 parties!!! More choices more freedom.

Ben Hardin
Ben Hardin

Needed amendments: 1. Nonpartisan (not bi-partisan) congressional redistricting commissions nationwide. 2. At-large congressional districts in smaller States and five-seat or a combination of five-seat and at-large districts in States with six or more Representatives. 3. Electing, in a nonpartisan process, the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate by the general electorate in presidential election years and revamping, through a nonpartisan process, legislative committees. 4. Initiative and Referendum measures on general election ballots. 5. Banning of official party primaries and providing uniform access for candidates’ names on ballots in nonpartisan primaries and general elections. 6. Replacement of first-past-the-post voting method with a uniform information-rich expressive voting method such as approval plus grade. 7. Presidential authority to “veto” line item appropriations in bills and Congressional authority to override the line-item veto with a simple rather than 2/3 majority. 8. Presidential authority, in the last half of his/her second term, to proposed amendment(s) to the Constitution which if not ratified by a 3/4 majority in Congress, could be ratified by a 60 percent majority in the next general election and a 70 percent majority in the following second next general election. 9. General electorate authority to propose initiatives for constitutional amendments which the general electorate could also ratify through supermajority votes of at least 70 percent in two successive election cycles. 10. Nonpartisan nominations and elections of Presidents and abolition of the Electoral College voting method. 11. Expanding the number of Supreme Court justices to the original 11 and authorizing the President, at least eight years after the expansion, the option of dismissing one justice, without stating prejudice, from among at least three justices who have served longer than 18 years or who have reached the age of 72, and allowing the justice to remain seated until a replacement is nominated and confirmed.