Is Gary Johnson a Viable Candidate for the US Presidency?

Updated on June 8, 2018

Who is Gary Johnson?

  • For starters, Gary Johnson is the Libertarian nominee for President.
  • He was the former Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. (Republican)
  • He ran for President previously in 2012 (Libertarian) after dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination.
  • Avid triathlete and has competed in several marathons, triathlons and bike races, including competing three times at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
  • He's climbed Mount Everest, as well as the Seven Summits (the tallest peaks in each of the seven continents).
  • Competed in the Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico where participants complete a marathon length course through the desert in which many people wear combat boots and weighted ruck sacks.
  • He is a Lutheran.

Now I know a lot of these aren't really related to politics, but I just wanted to give a general overview of the kind of man we're dealing with here.

On the Issues

Gary Johnson is well known as a fiscal-conservative, and the libertarian platform is one of a more "hands-off" government. Not to be compared to the Tea Party, who are also very small, hands off government centered; Libertarians are entirely hands off. This means legalization of marijuana, support of gay marriage, and essentially allowing all the freedoms that US citizens should expect. I find Gary Johnson to be a nice middle ground between conservative and liberal views due to the fact that he's a fiscal conservative, and still holds liberal views when it comes to civil rights.

Here are some key issues, and where he stands on them.

  • Abortion: Don't require insurers to provide birth control (freedom to decide for the insurers). Women's right to choose until fetal viability.
  • Civil Rights: He supports the separation of religion and state, supports "gay unions", and wants to get the government out of the business of marriage.
  • Crime: He claims that too many unnecessary laws leads to too many in prison, however supports private prisons over public controlled ones. Believes that the death penalty as a public policy is flawed, and believes that it's not worth risking putting an innocent person to death.
  • Drugs: Gary is a big supporter of legalizing marijuana and used medicinal marijuana himself from 2005 to 2008 in order to recover from a near-fatal paragliding accident. He completely disagrees with the War on Drugs, and claims it is a complete failure. He also believes that the majority of border violence is due to drugs, and legalization would reduce this issue as well. Calls drugs and health issue rather than a criminal issue.
  • Education: Believes the public education system needs a reform. He supports evolution himself, but doesn't think there should be federal involvement on the issue.
  • Foreign Policy: He believes the US can't afford to shell out billions in foreign aid, and it should only be allocated in the case that it protects U.S. interests. He also supports lifting the embargo and travel restrictions with Cuba, stating that trade promotes friendship.
  • Government Reform: Gary Johnson is a strong advocate of term limits for governors and congress.
  • Gun Control: He supports the second amendment and gun ownership rights and believes that laws regarding guns are ineffective.
  • Health Care: No government sponsored healthcare, and no ObamaCare.
  • Homeland Security: Let the PATRIOT Act expire, no torture, and no spying on American citizens.
  • Immigration: Some of his most recent comments on immigration have been related to the fact that building a bigger wall will just produce taller ladders, and that the Arizona anti-immigrant law will only lead to racial profiling.
  • War and Peace: Gary stated in 2012 that he wants to cut all aid and support to Israel. He also was in opposition to the Iraq war from the start, and claimed in 2012 that the nation-building in the middle east was failing and that we should withdraw immediately.


Opinion and Analysis

I was considering including this in the previous section, however I decided to keep it free of my own views, and let the reader decide for themselves first on whether Gary Johnson's beliefs are positive or negative. He does have some interesting and unique beliefs that I'll address more specifically in the next section.

Just for added clarification, I've included all of my own views in italics.

  • Abortion: Fetal viability does sound reasonable, but that's partially where the debate lies. However based on his other viewpoints, it seems he agrees with the women's right to choose. This appears to be a rational belief in the eyes of most people, and true to the libertarian platform, this is about women having the freedom to do with their bodies as they please.
  • Civil Rights: No issue on this one, as it's important to allow people to have the freedom to marry. Marriage is not an institution created by the government, so why would the government have too much of a say when it comes to a person marrying another person. This rings true to the separation of church and state.
  • Crime: His views on crime seem somewhat contradictory to me, because prison he seems to be disapproving of prison overcrowding yet supporting the privatization of prisons. The problem is that private prisons and "unnecessary laws" go hand in hand as the private prison industry is large and is capable of funding lobbyists and political campaigns. These industries (like the pharmaceutical industry) have enough pull to influence key decision makers when it comes to getting rid of or keeping current laws. The more people that are thrown in prison, the more a private company can profit off it, so the issue of overcrowding is in direct benefit of the private prisons that he supports.
  • Drugs: I find that the statement on this being a health issue over criminal issue is the most important thing Gary Johnson has said. This is the key to solving the drug problem, not throwing millions of dollars at it in the War on Nouns. I'm also a supporter of the use of medical marijuana, though complete legalization is still an issue I'm on the fence about. I'll be doing a full write-up on the issues of medical marijuana and legalization in the future, so keep an eye out for that.
  • Education: I find the statement about the government needing to stay out of the issue of evolution, while still supporting the theory is a bit contradictory as well. If anyone is responsible for the future of our nation, it's the government, and if teachers aren't allowed to teach science in science class, then there's hardly a point in having an education system in the first place. I'm not really sure there needs to be a completely hands-off approach to public education considering it's one of the most important aspects of the development of this nation.
  • Foreign Policy: As a cigar smoker, better relations with Cuba sounds fantastic. However, cutting a significant amount of foreign aid and only using it in the cases that protects US interests seems strange, considering that's generally why foreign aid is provided in the first place. Either it protects US interests, or we get something out of it. Unless of course he's referring to getting rid of things like disaster relief aid and other foreign aid that is just for the purpose of supporting those in need. I assure you, we still get something out of it. However, isolationism is something that many Americans would like to see: keeping to ourselves and relinquishing out role as the World Police.
  • Government Reform: Term limits for congress and representatives would be great, considering not much seems to get done in the Capitol anymore and these lifetime politicians are spending the vast majority of their time catering to donors and campaigning for the next election.
  • Gun Control: This may be a little controversial to some readers who lean a little more left on the political spectrum, but there are too many guns America right now, and it doesn't seem like any sort of legislation will get guns out of the hands of criminals. Criminals, by their nature, don't obey the laws. One more law certainly isn't going to fix gun violence in the nation.
  • Health Care: One I'm not entirely sure about myself, but it does allow the spirit of Libertarian views to shine through. Let the businesses do their thing and compete, and let citizens have the freedom to pick their health care plan on their own.
  • Homeland Security: Personally, I have no issues with these statements.
  • Immigration: He really hasn't seemed to have said too much on this issue lately, other than counterpoints to Trump's wall. He's been critical of many immigration control plans and I'd personally like to hear his plan to solve the issue, or if he even thinks it's an issue.
  • War and Peace: Less war and less military member's lives on the line sounds like a fine plan to me, though if an issue broke out where the United States ever did actually need to go to war, I'm unsure of his ability to be decisive enough about whether we should take action or not.

Three way poll numbers as of August 29, 2016.
Three way poll numbers as of August 29, 2016. | Source

Some Unique Views

The Libertarian Party has had some... odd views for a few years that neither Democrats or Republicans really address at all. You might actually agree with these, or you might think they're a little obscure. I must note though, some of these statements he's made go back quite a ways considering his involvement in politics since 1995, so I'll include the dates along with them so no one is confused between what he has said in the past and what the actual platform he's running on.

  • Wants no federal funding for stem cell research. (2012)
  • Opposes bank bailouts, farm subsidies, and stimulus plans. (2012)
  • Believes prostitution is safer when legal and regulated. (2011)
  • Prescriptions for heroin and methadone should be available at pharmacies. (2001)
  • Wants to do away with the Department of Education (2011)
  • Eliminate needless barriers to free trade. (2011)
  • 43% reduction in military spending. (2011)
  • Open the border, immigrants become taxpayers. (2001)
  • 23% national sales tax, eliminate the IRS (2012)

These may not be all that strange, but some are definitely unique positions.


What are your thoughts on Gary Johnson?

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New Mexico, home of Gary Johnson
New Mexico, home of Gary Johnson | Source

But don't take my word for it!

As with all things regarding the political election, I encourage you to do your own research when it comes to looking into the views of politicians. The fact that you're reading this article is a good sign that you're looking into it. Here are a few resources if you'd like to know more about Gary Johnson specifically.

Also, as a final note, I'm not affiliated with the campaign of Gary Johnson or the Libertarian Party. This is merely an article stating facts about his views, coupled with my own opinion.

Are there other candidates you'd like me to cover? Are there any specific issues I should focus on and compare candidates?

Let me know in the comments below, as well as any other political topics you'd like to see some more information on.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I'd love to see the rise of a third party in this country, if for no other reason than to break the gridlock. I'd love to see Johnson get at least 20% of the vote this time to create a foothold for a new party. I just hope we never require a Presidential candidate to get 51% of the vote in order to win when there are three nominees like in other contests. In fact, I'd like to see that protocol dropped altogether. Most people are elected with much smaller support when you consider the general population v the percentage who vote.


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