Continuing the “oh, look, there are other people on the ballot” series, let’s look at the pair of candidates second to the bottom of the list.
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson may be the most familiar of the minor party and Independent candidates on the Tennessee ballot. He was, after all, a contestant in the Republican primary, and appeared in a couple of televised debates.
Johnson and Texas Congressman Ron Paul sounded plenty alike when they both were running as small-l libertarians in the GOP race. Johnson then upgraded to the capitalized version, and in May of this year accepted the Libertarian Party’s nomination. Since then he has sought to strike a marked contrast with the two major party candidates on both foreign and domestic policy issues.
Johnson is for an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan, an end to the War on Drugs, and an end to the Internal Revenue Service. He promotes the Fair Tax®, a balanced federal budget, and individuals’ rights to marry another regardless of sexual orientation or gender (but religious institutions’ rights to protect their beliefs).
Libertarians are often described in political terms as naïve or idealistic. As president, Johnson would have virtually no ideological counterparts in Congress (save the aforementioned Paul and his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky). But that’s broadly speaking. On individual issues, a Libertarian finds himself agreeing with fiscally conservative Republicans much of the time, and with civil libertarians on the progressive side of the Democratic Party much of the time. They just don’t all agree at the same time.
An interesting thought experiment is to try and work out what types of coalitions a Libertarian president could cobble together to implement some part of an agenda.
Johnson’s running mate, former California Judge Jim Gray, represents the small contingent of current and former prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement officers who say that the nation’s drug policies are devised and implemented exactly backwards, and that they have a disproportionate impact on minorities.
If ending wars, drastically cutting taxes and spending, reviving individual liberties, legalizing marijuana, and decentralizing power are your thing, then Johnson-Gray is your ticket.