Gary Johnson isn’t officially running for president in 2016, but he appears to be inching closer to that decision. Other than expressing an intention to run, he has not made a formal announcement, nor even filed candidacy papers with the FEC.
Yet in an exclusive interview for IVN, Johnson suggests that his potential candidacy for the Libertarian nomination is advancing toward another serious run.
Johnson, governor of New Mexico between 1994 and 2003, was the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate in 2012.
“We learned a lot in 2012,” Johnson said when asked what would be different in a 2016 campaign. He elaborated:
“Looking back, much of what I did in terms of scheduling and travel was not very efficient. The sheer number of people who must be reached demands absolute efficiency and not wasting time in unproductive activities. A 2016 campaign will be much smarter and much more efficient.” - Gary Johnson
Johnson, an avid skier, Ironman athlete, and mountain climber, has clearly faced tough challenges before. Yet the campaign trail is not a trek he particularly enjoys. When asked about this, he replied, “No, I’m not fond of it, but it is worth it to make that difference.”Much like scaling a peak, elections and campaigning are more about the end goal for Johnson.
“I really enjoyed serving as governor. It brought me great satisfaction, and I was able to make a difference," he explained. "The same would be true of serving as president. I would never run for president if I didn’t want to be president."
Johnson's comments suggest a firm belief in the ideals he represents.
“It is critical that someone gives voice to the ideas of personal liberty, economic freedom and nonintervention, and no one else is doing so,” he stated.
It would seem that he wants to be that someone. Yet just like many other third party candidates, Johnson realizes it's not all about winning.
“Hopefully, those ideas will resonate and have a real impact on public policy, regardless of the outcome of a single election,” he said.
The Libertarian Party's platform extols a belief in a world where “all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.”
Rand Paul, considered to be the most Libertarian-leaning of the 2016 GOP contenders, aligns himself with similar ideals. Yet Johnson consistently refutes comparisons made between him and the Republican candidate. He explained in the interview:
“What Rand Paul does and how far he goes in the process will not change what we libertarian-minded folks must do. There are issues on which we do not agree, and those tend to be issues that have become litmus tests for Republicans. It is essential that voters have the opportunity to see and hear a candidate who is not constrained by litmus tests when it comes to real libertarian ideas.” - Gary Johnson
Johnson does not anticipate facing Senator Paul in the general election, as he expects Paul will not be successful in securing the GOP nomination.“If recent history is an indication, the candidate who finally emerges will be the one the establishment wants and who has the most money," Johnson remarked. "And watching the Republican National Committee limit participation in its own debates, that appears to be their plan once again. That leads to
Aside from who the major parties choose as their nominees, the main obstacle Johnson would face is not necessarily whether or not the American people are ready for a third party candidate, but getting his voice out there in a system designed to favor the Republican and Democratic parties.
“America is ready, but those who control the process are obviously not," he contends. "For the first time in modern politics, polls are showing that the real majority in the American electorate are those who believe neither of the two ‘major’ parties represents them.”
“As long as the Republicans and Democrats, and the mainstream media, are allowed to exclude such candidates from the nationally-televised debates, voters will continue to be misled into believing that there are only two viable choices.” - Gary Johnson
In Johnson’s reference to the debates, it is relevant to note that the Libertarian National Committee is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission to change the rules that obstruct third party candidates from participating in presidential debates. A follow-up article will focus on Johnson’s role and views on this issue.
Climbing the highest peaks on each of the seven continents may pale compared to the challenge Johnson would face on Election Day in 2016. He will need much more than personal drive and stamina to achieve this goal. But if he deems that America is ready, Gary Johnson appears perched to assume that place in history.