'A lot of disenfranchised voters': Libertarian Gary Johnson discusses his presidential bid
Johnson, who served as governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, won the nomination for the Libertarian Party in the 2012 presidential election. He only acquired 1 percent of the popular vote, but that’s considered a big achievement for third-party candidates in the United States’ two-party system. In 2016, he is confident that he can shake up the Democrat-Republican dichotomy even further by offering ideas that distinguish him from both parties.
“I am a classical liberal, which is being fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” he told RT. “The notion of, in this case, government spending, the government is too big, let’s get it under control, let’s balance the federal budget or there will be horrible consequences. And then personal liberty and freedom and the responsibility that goes along with that. So absolutely staunch supporters of civil liberties.”
Johnson took both major parties to task for what he sees as a failure to offer pragmatic solutions to the American people. He criticized Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton for following in President Barack Obama’s footsteps by supporting government spending that will cause the national debt to reach $20 trillion by the time the next president takes office.
“One, it looks like [Donald] Trump is going to be the [Republican] nominee, the other, it looks like it’s going to be Hillary,” he said. “Well is anything going to change under Hillary? And has Hillary not promised everything to everybody?”
Johnson supports a balanced budget to decrease government spending, and suggested that, if elected president, he will do so through veto power. “As president of the United States I can veto spending, something I did as the governor of New Mexico, and that has a positive impact.”
Though he was a Republican when he served as governor of New Mexico, he blasted Trump, the Republican frontrunner, for the celebrity businessman’s firm stance against immigration.
“The first thing he’s going to do is deport 11 million illegal immigrants?” Johnson said. “That is absolutely ridiculous and building a fence across the border is too.”
This kind of rhetoric, he said, will result in a large amount of “disenfranchised Republicans” and voters in general who will be looking for an alternative. While Johnson claims that he is not “delusional” about his chances of actually being sworn in as the commander-in-chief, the former governor is confident that he can help shift the conversation.
“I could be providing that alternative, and I could bump up to a level in the polls where all of a sudden the libertarian view has to be addressed on every single issue of the day.”
Businessmen like Trump and doctors like Ben Carson leading career politicians in the polls “is an indication of just how frustrated people are,” Johnson claimed. “Eighty percent of Americans want more than two choices, and yet they have no idea why there isn’t another choice.”
One of the major stumbling blocks, though, is the unfair treatment of third parties by the Presidential Debate Commission, whom the Libertarian Party is suing after being barred access to presidential debates.
“The Presidential Debate Commission, I think, is at the heart of why there aren’t any more choices. I think that the Democrats and Republicans collude with one another just another to just debate one another and I think the networks may play a role in that also,” Johnson said, noting that a Libertarian being included in the presidential debates would be a “game changer.”
The Libertarian Party convention to nominate their presidential candidate is set for Memorial Day, and Johnson faces off against 25 others registered on the party’s ballot.
“I think that I offer a pretty compelling argument to be the next Libertarian nominee,” he said. “But look, it’s a process and I respect the process, and I’m gonna engage it. And I hope everybody in the process has a fair shake. That’s the argument I’m making to the American people. A Libertarian candidate should have a fair shake in the general election.”