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Libertarian Party Candidate Gary Johnson Has a Message for Voters With an Axe to Grind

by Craig D. Schlesinger, published

This weekend, former two-term Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson appeared on MSNBC’s Weekends with Alex Witt. Kicking off the segment with Johnson’s latest web ad, Ms. Witt described it as “Orwellian” and asked if Johnson was serious or just playing politics.

Gov. Johnson’s ad assaults the Democrats and Republicans for keeping us in a state of perpetual war and unsustainable debt, eliminating the Bill of Rights, and systematically “dismantling the freedoms granted to us under our Constitution,” noting “we the people will never agree on the small things,” but Johnson wants agreement on the big thing: “Our leaders have blown it.”

Johnson counters the elitist political duopoly with peace and prosperity, asking voters to “be libertarian with me” – putting aside partisan differences for one election.  Essentially, Johnson’s tongue-in-cheek plea is for voters to give him the reigns once, and if after four years the people are not satisfied with “peace, prosperity, and freedom, we can always vote tyranny back into office again.”

With endless media focus on the shortcomings of both Obama and Romney, the candidate GQ called the sanest man running for president is looking pretty good by comparison. Gov. Johnson is the only candidate pledging to stop the runaway spending, submit a balanced budget in year one, declare peace and bring the troops home now, restore our economy and industrial might, and focus on the best methods to rebuild our own nation rather than other nations “half a world away.”

Johnson concludes with: “America is better and brighter than this. Be libertarian with me this one time, and I’ll prove it to you.” Judging by his gubernatorial record, there is no reason to doubt him. As the ad winds down, thunder and lightning envelop the capital. As the lightning strikes, a short, edgy phrase appears for a split second with references to both the American Revolution and George Orwell: "1776 KICKS 1984’s ASS"

If that message resonates with independent voters, Gov. Johnson is offering plenty of incentives to garner their support. The ACLU Liberty Watch Candidate Report Card lists Gov. Johnson as their civil liberties valedictorian. National Review Online anointed him “best job creator” among all presidential candidates, and Johnson has earned endorsements from renowned economists like Jeff Miron and Lynne Kiesling. Prominent constitutional and legal scholars Ilya Somin and Sasha Volokh of the popular legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy also offered their endorsements to Johnson. Even former Gov. Jesse Ventura (I-MN) and comedian/magician Penn Jillette recently hopped on the endorsement wagon.

Of course, Witt was quick to point out that Gov. Johnson’s platform is rather “idealistic,” to which Johnson smiled and replied:

"I got to serve eight years as Governor of New Mexico talking about these same kinds of issues in a state that was 2-1 Democrat. [PPP] did a poll , and I was the only presidential candidate that’s viewed favorably in his or her home state. Ideologically, yes, how does that really affect citizens? Well, citizens of New Mexico put that to the test, and I ended up getting reelected by a bigger margin the second time than the first time in a state that’s 2-1 Democrat; making a name for myself by being a good steward of tax dollars."

Facts are facts, and Witt instantly agreed, “Well there is no doubt you are a very, very popular Governor there.” In the wake of his debate performance last September in Orlando, Johnson proved just how popular his “politics be damned” approach really is. In the twenty-four hours following that debate, Gov. Johnson was the most Googled name on the planet – a strong indication that Johnson’s message resonates with your average “Joe debate watcher.”

Whether or not he's their first pick for president, independent voters need to organize and mobilize to ensure that Johnson is included in relevant polls that qualify candidates’ admittance into presidential debates. It's an important way for independents to keep sticking it to the two party system and gaining access for third party and independent candidates.

Zogby and PPP are already on board, but other polling organizations such as Gallup and Rasmussen may need convincing. Independents can further help facilitate Johnson’s efforts to reach the 15% benchmark in national polls (with the first debate set for October 3rd) by spreading an independent message of liberty, peace, and prosperity to friends, family, and colleagues. If Gov. Johnson is allowed on stage to debate with Gov. Romney and President Obama, it will show the American people that good ideas and working solutions can come from outside the two party system after all.

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