Who? Start here: Gary Johnson is running for president.
The usual third parties need not apply here, so throw out your Independents and Greens and get back to basics: liberty.
Thanks to Ron Paul, Libertarian ideals aren’t new to this campaign. But unlike Ron Paul, who touts Libertarian-leaning policies under a Republican flag, Johnson is actually running as a member of the Libertarian Party, which advocates for minimalist government interference and great personal freedoms for citizens. The former two-term governor of New Mexico calls his platform a collection of common-sense policies that appeal to what most Americans believe: a combination of financial frugality and unconstricted civil liberties. Johnson says he is more fiscally conservative than Romney and more socially accepting than Obama.
So where has he been all this time? Well, luck seems to have something to do with it.
Despite the fact that he was the first Republican to announce his intentions to run for presidential office, he’s had a tough time telling anyone about it. An early burn from CNN kept him out of the second Republican debate (Johnson was not invited, though CNN has not made public the reason for the rebuff). After a lackluster fall, in December 2011 he announced he was switching parties and entered the race as the Libertarian candidate (the party designated him its official nominee in May).
In April, he was polling at 6 percent, compared with President Obama’s 47 percent and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s 42 percent.
If elected, Johnson says that he will:
- Recall all troops from abroad. An act that would mean an end to the American presence in Afghanistan, but also in peaceful countries throughout Europe where military bases and resources have been cached.
- Terminate the Department of Education. Johnson says the money currently being given to the Cabinet-level institution would be better spent by the states.
- Abolish the IRS. Johnson aims to do away with the current tax code in favor of a “fair tax” that would be based on consumption rather than income.
- End the so-called war on drugs by legalizing marijuana.
- Support gay rights and pro-choice causes.
- Cut federal spending across the board to the tune of 43 percent.
Governor Johnson’s ideas might sound out there, but he’ll be the first to say that he’s got the record to back it up. He was elected governer of New Mexico as a Republican by an electorate in which registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 2-to-1. Third party indeed.
Is there even a point to running in a race where he stands almost no chance of winning? Johnson says yes, and that the voice of those supporting the kind of policies he and Ron Paul support will be lost when Romney accepts the official mantle of his party. Johnson says his message deserves to be heard, and he aims to stick with the race till the end.
A symbolic race this might be, but if anyone is tough enough to stick it out, it’s Johnson, whose previous (nonpolitical) conquests include climbing Mount Everest on a broken leg and completing the Ironman race. Five times.