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If Sanders Doesn’t Get the Nomination, Gary Johnson May Catch the Bern

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If the two major parties announce their presidential nominees as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Sanders supporters are not likely to salute to the Democratic Party’s chosen leader.

Fact is, Bernie Sanders has a lot more in common with Gary Johnson than any of the likely nominees from the Republican or Democratic parties.

And a recent poll by Monmouth University suggests that “the major parties’ most likely nominees are largely unpopular among American voters.” The unpopularity of the wall street-friendly Clinton or the so-called xenophobe Trump will force Bernie supporters to look outside the establishment’s nomination process to a more “similar-to-Bernie” presidential candidate.

Importantly, according to the poll, Clinton currently leads all registered voters with 42 percent, Trump pulls in 34 percent, and Gary Johnson holds a surprising 11 percent. Considering the nearly $3 billion worth of media coverage received by Clinton and Trump over the last few months, who the heck is Gary Johnson?

Well, he is the former Republican governor of New Mexico, a former candidate for both the Republican and Libertarian nomination, and is an otherwise likable “regular guy” who might have broad appeal to voters who are more interested in challenging the status quo than championing an ideology.

If the two parties choose Clinton and Trump as the presidential nominees, Sanders supporters are not going to concede lightly.
But even so, Sanders supporters may be surprised to find that Gary Johnson, painted by our traditional “left v. right” national media narrative as being “too far right,” has a lot of policy positions that the anti-wall street, pro-legalization, and socially liberal “lefties” could agree with. All matters of practical electability aside, Johnson is much closer to Sanders when it comes to his positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, corporate subsidies, and immigration reform.

Last year, for example, Sanders introduced a bill that called for the end of the federal prohibition of marijuana. Johnson, as former CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a company that seeks to market legal marijuana products, could not be a more authentic and credible supporter of Sanders’ efforts. And like Sanders, Johnson views drug abuse as a medical issue, not a criminal one.

When it comes to abortion rights, Sanders’ policy is grounded in the empowerment of women. Johnson, who calls on the government to get out of the personal and medical decision making process, is similarly pro-choice. The point is, the candidates may ground their policy positions on different ideological viewpoints, but they often arrive at the same conclusions.

More importantly, much of the discontent among the electorate — whether it manifests in support for Sanders, Trump, or not voting at all — may have to do with a genuine belief that traditional politicians don’t take positions that are grounded in anything at all, except polling information and manufactured talking points.

Immigration reform is another hot topic this election year, and again, Johnson and Sanders agree that we need to create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. This will sit well with Sanders’ supporters who view Clinton as just another cog in the bipartisan inability to implement practical reform.

Fact is, if the two parties choose Clinton and Trump as the presidential nominees, Sanders supporters are not going to concede lightly. And a large number of these supporters feel betrayed by the Democrats as much as the Republicans. So statements from DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz like, “superdelegates exist to protect the party from grassroots candidates,” might motivate Sanders’ supporters to take their grassroots support to a place where it is welcomed.

Gary Johnson, like the long-time independent Sanders, is running on the ticket of a qualified political party because it is the only practical path to getting ballot access in all fifty states. But like Sanders, Johnson is not really a “party man.” He is a candidate with a perspective that does not fit nicely within the “two-sided” narrative the establishment in both parties have created.

And this is something the grassroots arsenal that is fueling the Sanders campaign might just support.

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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545 comments
BrendaDuffey
BrendaDuffey

The only candidate in the choice selection that comes close to my priority of demilitarization and elimination of fossil fuels is Jill Stein. I do not, however, agree with any of the candidates who want to increase the power of the federal bureaucracy. That's my dilemma. Bernie Sanders calls himself a champion of peace but he voted to fund the invasion of Iraq along with Senators Obama and Clinton. I voted for Obama in 2008 because I wanted an end to the Bush Administration's war policies and going against the recommendations of the United Nations. From my perspective he decided to put that issue on the back burner and put all his energy into writing a health care program that he pushed through despite lots of popular concern. I want a President who will focus on demilitarization, climate change and alternatives to fossil fuels and stimulus programs to grass roots organizations that are devoted to dealing with the conditions of the inner cities. In addition, I would like to see any focus of federal education "free lunch" monies devoted to developing community gardens in every elementary and middle school and culinary arts programs at the high school level to provide the meals.

krw1943
krw1943

Fantasyland. Johnson isn't known. He will go nowhere. People on the street don't even know who the vice president is. Plus, on your curious "vote" tally you really should include the number of votes cast.

LadyOgilvy
LadyOgilvy

I think Gary Johnson might need to come up with a new party name. I was calling myself a libertarian socialist for awhile but caught so much flack from the "heartless" libertarian rhetoric that I have stated calling myself a freedom loving humanitarian. I am a "Bernie of Bust" gal but I love Gary Johnson. I would love it if Gary could convince Bernie to take Gary on as vice-president so Gary would be up next at bat. Also, I think they would be great people to have bounce ideas off each other. For those of you don't know who Gary Johnson is, check him out. Meanwhile, I have to vote for Bernie to send a clear message to the DNC. Our founding fathers said nothing about a country for the DNC, by the DNC, or for the corporations, by the corporations. Same difference.

GretchenPembertonBrena
GretchenPembertonBrena

But don't Libertarians also believe that the government should not help those who cannot help themselves? It's kind of a heartless ideology -- just let everyone fend for themselves? That's the opposite of socialism. I don't think Johnson would like the idea of free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage or international health care.

Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh

If this guy makes the ballot in Nevada somehow, I'm voting for him.

justin
justin

The Libertarian candidate is on all 50 state's ballots

Mark Mason
Mark Mason

Independents voters are on the rise. Forty percent at the national level and growing. In Arizona, registered independents are not allowed to vote in primaries. Independent voters in Arizona now make up the largest block of voters at 34.88 percent that weren't allowed to vote. Didn't take long for the governor to do the math promising that independents would gain their voting rights back in Arizona. Sorta like Hillary telling Flint that she's going to remove the lead in their water system...in about five years as soon as she has her foreign interests needs taken care of. Sorry Flint, those foreign interests put up more money than you and NO Doug, the plutocracy and the Kingdom of Maricopa County is not going to let you change their archaic nosebleed election system...That would put their plutocracy out of business.

Kacie Yarkosky-Schachtner
Kacie Yarkosky-Schachtner

With how awful this election is going, all the bashing within the same parties, I have actually contemplated doing a write in, because I as a woman cannot consciously skip an election. Gary Johnson is actually the person I am planning on writing in. His views fully align with mine. I wish I had known of him sooner. Is he technically still running? I haven't heard.

justin
justin

He has not won the Libertarian party yet, when he does he will officially be the Libertarian candidate and will be on all 50 state ballots. No need to write him in.

Yes, he is still running and has 11% of the popular vote in the first nationwide poll (Trump vs Clinton vs Johnson)

Talon Egotist
Talon Egotist

Jill Stein has a better record and is closer in economic policy (Bernie's main push) than johnson. I like Johnson. But he's not the best 3rd party candidate this year.

Donald Wood
Donald Wood

where does this mind control issue ever stop --implication is he doesnt get nomination -- propaganda

Aj Dajani
Aj Dajani

why this IVN website promotes someone unelectable like Gary Johnson? Because this IVN is funded by the Koch brothers to push unelectable individuals to neutralize the potency of the independent vote. Because the independent voters always denied the republicans the WH not the democrats or progressives. That is why this website is pushing unelectable candidates to the independent voters . To neutralize the potency of the Independent vote .

Charles Rock
Charles Rock

I won't support anyone but Sanders. Hillary will NOT get my vote if she is selected, period.

ShawnAlley
ShawnAlley

So, who gets your vote if Sanders isn't on the ballot?

Roger Marlowe
Roger Marlowe

Gary Johnson is a States Rights advocate and hasn't really defined exactly how deep that goes. All you have to do to get the creeps about that is look at the recent primary election in AZ. That's the crap states do when they're deregulated.

Dustin Price
Dustin Price

Um... Isn't he a Libertarian? Try Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein.

Richard Jensen
Richard Jensen

I supported Greens but not much political traction. Bernie got my attention. Progressive candidates most similar.

Edo Mihic
Edo Mihic

NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY OR DO OUR VOTE GOES TRUMP THE MAN THAT SPEAKS THE TRUTH FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE WE VOTE FOR AMERICA WE VOTE FOR TRUMP ,TRUMP AND ONLY "TRUMP"

Bill Reynolds
Bill Reynolds

This makes no sense. A Libertarian heir to the Bern? A Green is more likely. Libertarians eschew Government while Bernie and his followers recognize vital roles for Govt to play in regulation and promotion of the General Welfare.

Jake Trumpie
Jake Trumpie

Please don't vote Repulicrat this election. Support the Libertarian and Green movements to end the Republicrat monopolization of the debate commission.

Gary Archambault
Gary Archambault

Why compromise? The parties in control don't want their citizens to elect a leader of their choosing.

Areanne Breedlove
Areanne Breedlove

I will die and Bern in hell before I bend knee and vote for the Clinton's again in this lifetime. Good ol Bill and Hillary, they got past his sexual pranks as President with an intern and the rest of us should too? Birds of a feather and all.

Craig Morris
Craig Morris

I will either write in Bernie, or vote for Jill Stein. Hillary will give us none of the things that Bernie will, so she will probably lose because she isn't a strong enough candidate. But it's freaking March! Stop acting like he's not still in the running!!! If you really don't want a Trump presidency, make Bernie the nominee, since he is shown to be able to beat Trump much more than Hillary, anyway.

Qamber Jafri
Qamber Jafri

I will vote for anybody but any of the remaining candidates if Bernie or Kasich don't get the nominations! Not much difference between Trump,Cruz or Hillary!

Brian Drourr
Brian Drourr

"Johnson, the hard choice for president!" lol

Brian Drourr
Brian Drourr

I am one dem who will not now nor will I ever vote for @Hillary. A Johnson Sanders Ticket sounds great to me!

Benny Hill
Benny Hill

I rather vote for Johnson then Sanders....

Leedel Williams
Leedel Williams

...what? Gary Johnson all but created the private prison industry and nearly destroyed New Mexico's economy. They're nothing alike.

justin
justin

Johnson left office with New Mexico having a budget surplus

Ronnie Angel
Ronnie Angel

How in the hell does a socialist democrat have ANYTHING in common with a libertarian? Does not compute in my mind.

Deena Semeniuk
Deena Semeniuk

Bernie We want you to go independent Don't cave to the DNC

donhonda
donhonda

If Trump didn't exist, why he would have been invented:

https://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/illegal-immigration-finally-turned-off-public/?singlepage=true
How Illegal Immigration Finally Turned Off the Public

"Why did the illegal-immigration issue launch Donald Trump’s campaign? Why did his recent tense press conference exchange with Univision’s Jorge Ramos please even some of Trump’s liberal critics? What is it about illegal immigration that has finally turned off so many Americans?"

donhonda
donhonda

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/02/27/opposition-to-immigration-reform-is-a-winning-strategy-for-republicans/

"By any measure, fears of (Illegal) immigration are driving many white Americans to the Republican Party.  And, indeed, the Republican strategy on immigration appears to have been successful. Republicans now control the House and the Senate, the governor’s office in 31 states, and two-thirds of the state legislatures. They are winning the political war."

"An even bigger factor is that the ties of racial and ethnic minorities to the Democratic Party are tenuous. Research by Taeku Lee and myself shows that most Latinos and Asian Americans don’t feel like they fit into either party. In national surveys, those who refuse to answer a question about party identification, those who claim that they do not think in partisan terms, and independents make up the clear majority of both groups. All told, 56 percent of Latinos and 57 percent of Asian-American identify as nonpartisans.

Even among blacks, there are signs of ambivalence. Almost 30 percent of blacks feel
 that the Democratic Party does not work hard for black interests."

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20151016_As_Trump_fades__be_smart_about_immigration.html#disqus_thread

"Most Hispanics aren't single-issue voters when it comes to immigration. A recent Gallup poll found that among registered Latino voters, 67 percent are at least willing to support a candidate who doesn't share their views on immigration. And 18 percent don't consider the issue important at all.

What's more, many Hispanic citizens have little sympathy for immigrants who haven't played by the rules. Especially among Latino voters born in the United States, resentment of immigrants who have entered the country illegally can run deep. Forty-two percent of American-born Hispanics disapprove of President Obama's executive actions to prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/12/no-joke-trump-can-win-plenty-of-latinos.html
Reuben Navarette:  No Joke: Trump Can Win Plenty of Latinos

Gee, No wonder why I fall into the Proud Independent group.

Z'Po Saito
Z'Po Saito

Just saying "fact is" isnt magically making a fact. Gary is far far from bernie. Bernie believes in democratic socialism...We all share. Gary is a libertarian, the "I'm fine, everyone should fend for themselves and somehow the infrastructure takes care of itself" party. Bernie voters are not going to buy into a sucker play because someone says "fact is, they are similar." They are both male and mammals. Similarities end soon afterwards.

Bruce Farmer
Bruce Farmer

Aubrey Leigh Johnson may benefit from the Bern!

Aubrey Leigh
Aubrey Leigh

if he gets the nomination. My friend Austin Petersen is competing against him to get the Libertarian nomination! He's a stronger candidate!

Bruce Farmer
Bruce Farmer

Don't you think Austin could benefit the same way?

Aubrey Leigh
Aubrey Leigh

Oh absolutely. This is the election where the third party can really assert itself. I'm just saying, I'm not a Johnson supporter! :)

justin
justin

You mean the slimy internet troll? No thanks. Not sure how he is a stronger candidate, Johnson is a former Governor and Petersen is a failed website founder...