On Monday, April 29, former Libertarian presidential candidate and two-term Republican governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson wrapped his spring “Live Free” campus tour at George Washington University, where he was hosted by the school’s College Libertarians.
Governor Johnson “spill[ed] his guts” (as the flyer advertised) on hot-button issues like abortion (supports), marijuana legalization (supports), and the surveillance state (emphasized due process of law). He also gave students sage advice on achieving their goals, calling them “directors, producers, and stars” of their own life’s movie.
Johnson spoke for about 50 minutes before taking questions from audience members. Roughly 250 people attended the event.
After his presentation, Johnson sat down with student journalists (and yours truly) to answer a few more questions:
What are your main motivations behind the “Live Free” tour, and why are you targeting college students?
Is there anybody out there providing a voice to public policy that is fiscally more conservative than the rightest of Republicans or socially more liberal than the leftist of Democrats? I don’t think anybody’s out there providing that voice. I think it’s me. And I think it’s the way the majority of Americans think of themselves.
What do you think are the biggest problems/challenges facing college students today, and what do you think the government’s role is?
It’s the high cost of college tuition coupled with the debt that goes along with that, and I would say that government is directly responsible for the high cost by guaranteeing student loans. If [government-backed student loans] had never been started in the first place, college tuition would be dramatically lower because colleges and universities are immune from normal pricing and from a free market.
What’s the primary focus of Our America Initiative (Johnson’s 501(c)4) through 2016? And what do you think about ballot access?
I’m trying to put a voice to what I think the majority of Americans consider themselves: fiscally responsible, socially accepting, And for the Libertarian Party, I think it’ll be a lot easier this next time because of what happened [in the 2012 elections].
What affect would a Libertarian have in the public discourse by interacting with the two-party system in Congress?
I see an opportunity to say to the Democrats: Let’s get serious about drug reform and about military non-interventionism and marriage equality. And on the Republican side: Let’s balance the budget.
Plans for 2016?
As part of the Our America Initiative, this is about the promotion of ideas. No thoughts on 2016.
What is your position on the death penalty?
That was an issue that I reversed myself on [as Governor of New Mexico]. I went from being a proponent of the death penalty to believing that it’s flawed public policy. I’ve come to the conclusion that the government has made mistakes and continues to make mistakes. Everyone looks at the most highly publicized murders or atrocities and suggests that person deserves the death penalty. Try writing that into legislation, and you can’t do it. You end up putting innocent people to death.
Do you think the GOP lost the youth vote over social issues in 2012?
Yes, it’s THE reason. There’s a disconnect from the way I think the world is and the way it should be. I say I, but I think I’m speaking on behalf of a majority of Americans.
You say you speak for a majority of Americans, but why do you think more people aren’t in the Libertarian Party?
There’s a real disconnect there. If you wrote “Gary Johnson is fiscally conservative and socially liberal…” a lot of people would realize that’s a libertarian and would read on. People don’t know [about libertarianism].
Do you think a liberty-oriented candidate could be elected from either the Republican or Democratic Party in 2016?
I really do, but when it comes to “liberty-oriented,” the Republican Party right now is fiscally conservative but socially conservative. Republicans lose voters over social issue, and Democrats lose voters on the fiscal issues.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire