Who's this Gary Johnson Guy?

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AP

Donald Trump hasn’t come up with a nickname for him yet, but chances are major news outlets will announce one soon enough.

For Gary Johnson, ten percent is the magic number - it’s an early estimate of just how many votes he and his running mate Bill Weld could snag from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the general election. Because Clinton and Trump are two of the most unpopular presidential candidates in history, this could be a history-making election for the Libertarian Party, for them to rise to a whole new level of power and recognition. Libertarian delegate Channing Brown said, “This weird, wacky election season may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” With both the Republican and Democratic Parties fracturing due to Trump and Bernie vs. Hillary, it would be all-to-easy for a new contender to step in. Here he comes.  

The same poll that gave Johnson 10 percent found that 17 percent of voters were still undecided. Johnson has stolen an equal amount of votes from Clinton and Trump thus far. VP nominee Bill Weld said, “Someone doesn't have to be disaffected with Ms. Clinton to think that we have a good story… One doesn't have to be Never Trump to see that we were two of the most fiscally conservative governors in the United States.”

Gary Johnson refers to Libertarianism as “the great middle” and insists plenty of people are in fact Libertarians – they just don’t know it yet. Johnson believes this great middle could pick up Bernie Sanders supporters as well thanks to the social liberalism of Libertarianism. Even more exciting than the 10 percent is a poll that has found as many as half of Americans would consider a third-party candidate at this point.

The number that’s most important to Johnson, though, is 15 percent. If Gary Johnson were to seize just 5 more percentage points in the polls, he would become eligible, according to the Presidential Debate Commission, to participate in official debates with Trump and Clinton.

Gary Johnson has been around a long time, but if you’re not acquainted with him, here’s how he described himself and his running mate Bill Weld in a ReasonTV interview: “[We are] two successful Republican governors serving in blue states, fiscally conservative, socially liberal.” You may also recognize Johnson from the 2012 election where he drew a record high of 1.275 million votes for the Libertarian Party against Obama and Romney (that’s about 1%).

Johnson began his political career as the Governor of New Mexico. He ran on the motto “People before Politics” and was known for his small-government approach, vetoing 200 out of 424 bills his first six months in office. Johnson became the first Governor of New Mexico to serve two successive four-year terms after term limits were expanded in 1991. His time in office was celebrated by many due to no tax increases in six years, a shift from Medicaid to managed care, the construction of two new private prisons, a major road-building program, vetoes of a record number of bills, and New Mexico’s large budget surplus in his wake.

In short, Johnson is a social libertarian. He’s pro-choice and believes in separation of church and state. He’s pro-decriminalization of many drugs, including marijuana, which he has said he would legalize “in a heartbeat.” Rather than punishing drug users, he advocates for harm-reduction and treating addiction as a health problem. Drug use is also a philosophical issue of freedom: “Why do we tell adults what they can put in their bodies?”

Johnson is against the government meddling in private affairs of Americans, or, for that matter, other countries (“stop dropping bombs” would sum it up). He could snag Trump supporters for his America-first foreign policy and for being pro-gun rights.

That’s about where his similarities with Trump end, though. Gary Johnson has been pretty clear on how he feels about Trump, calling him a “pussy” and saying, “I think that Donald Trump alienates more than half of Republicans.” He’s also recently called him “just racist” for wanting to “deport 11 million illegal immigrants, build a fence across the border, [and] kill the families of Islamic terrorists.” Johnson has said that building a bigger border fence would only result in taller ladders.

GQ has deemed Johnson “the sanest man running for President” and highlighted his bad-assery: he’s climbed Mount Everest with a broken leg, he’s a five-time Ironman triathlete, and he enjoys paragliding and hot-gas ballooning. Not to mention he biked the Alps.

Gary Johnson has the endurance of a great athlete and a dark horse politician. In this messy political climate, he may be the welcome alternative that discontent, frustrated, and angry Americans have been waiting for.

 

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