Gary Johnson 2016: The Presidential Long Shot?

Gary Johnson is the latest Third Party or Independent candidate to announce his bid for the presidency, on January 6, 2016. While Gary Johnson is the newest on the 2016 presidential political stage, he is not new to the United States political system. Was his late timing perfect, or might Gary Johnson 2016 be a long shot?

Gary Johnson 2016: Education and Career

Gary Johnson was born in North Dakota, but graduated high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Johnson graduated from the University of New Mexico, with a degree in political science. While earning his degree, Johnson raised his own money as a handyman who went from door to door. By devoting time and attention to the company, he turned it, Big J Enterprises, into a multi-million dollar company.


Running under the Republican banner, Johnson became Governor of New Mexico in 1994. In 1998, he ran for a second term in the same office and won. He was the first to win two terms as Governor in New Mexico. From 2002 to 2011, Johnson devoted himself to working for his libertarian ideals. In 2011, Johnson decided to run for President of the United States under the Republican banner.

After being left out of 3 out of 5 Republican debates, and doubting his ability to gain in the 2012 New Hampshire primary, Johnson withdrew from the Republican presidential primaries. He then re-emerged as a presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, and won the nomination. He also won 1% of the popular vote. In November 2014, Gary Johnson announced the possibility of running for the 2016 elections. In January of this year, he officially declared his candidacy under the Libertarian Party.

Gary Johnson 2016: The Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party is the third-largest political  party in the United States, and was founded in 1971. In their official statement of principles, they advocate individual rights, so long as those rights do not interfere with those of others. They reiterate the “basic” rights: the right to life, the right to “liberty of speech and action,” and the right to property.


The Libertarian Party openly resists government censorship of speech and media, and advocates individual privacy from the government. They also resist government interference in “personal relationships.” This includes interference in issues such as gender identity, immigration, or child custody. The Libertarian Party also supports decriminalization of recreational and medicinal drugs, saying,

“Individuals retain the right to voluntarily assume risk of harm to themselves.”

They advocate a minimum government role in the economy, assigning it the job of basic regulation only. This is as close to the free market ideal as possible. Government redistribution of wealth, and trade controls, are unnecessary. Government subsidies for basics like oil, fuel, and food are unnecessary. While the Libertarian Party supports a defense military, both alliances and foreign entanglements should be avoided at all costs.

Gary Johnson 2016: Policy Platforms

Gary Johnson 2016 on Domestic Economic Policy

Consistent with the Libertarian Party position, Gary Johnson advocates fiscal conservatism. He feels like the Federal government is recklessly spending, and borrowing to maintain that rate. As a result, the debt is increasing with little to show for it. Spending, he believes, should not extend beyond the revenues actually brought in.


“You can’t count on growing the [tax] pie, but you can count on balancing expenditures with revenue.”

Johnson wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, and with it the corporate, income, and payroll taxes. Instead, a 28% flat sales tax will be placed on all items. It should not raise prices, and will be more practical and consistent than the layers of taxes that currently exist.

He criticizes both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for promising reforms that would bankrupt the Federal economy. Since running for president in 2012, he has also consistently criticized the Obama Administration for the same failings. In his response to January 2016 State of the Union Address, he says,

“My assessment of the State of the Union is quite different than President Obama’s, and much simpler. I see a national debt that will hit $20 trillion by the time he leaves office. I see a government that was too big and overreaching when he took office, and has gotten more so under his watch.”


As Governor of New Mexico, Johnson earned the nickname “Veto Johnson” buy using his gubernatorial right to veto portions and items of the budget until it was balanced. Yet, he managed to consistently lower or at least maintain the level of taxes in the state.

Gary Johnson 2016 on Foreign Policy

Consistent with the Libertarian Party policy platform, Johnson is strongly non-interventionist. He strongly criticizes the past and current administrations for pursuing a foreign policy that has weakened national defense and over-extended itself in foreign affairs. In his response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address, he says,

“I challenge anyone to show that we are today safer after years of war, failed nation-building abroad and foreign policy chaos.”


Gary Johnson believes that government defense spending should be focused on defenses within the State itself. He believes it is the “government’s fundamental duty to to keep the homeland and our freedoms secure.” Extending security measures across the borders, he believes, is only increasing the threat to the American homeland. With all the “foreign interventions” and “failed attempts at nation-building,” there has been more harm done than good.

“To the contrary, the threats to our safety and our liberty from violent jihadists are increasing, and if anything, we are less safe.”

Of any challenge, the least that can be brought against Johnson is fear or lack of decisiveness. Johnson is not only a self-made multi-millionaire but a proven triathlete. He has climbed the Seven Peaks–the seven highest points in every continent of the world, which include Mount Everest–and is an extreme athlete. Many of these practices he took up while serving as Governor of New Mexico.


Gary Johnson 2016 on Civil Rights

Consistent with the Libertarian Party stand on a free market, Gary Johnson believes in the upholding of individual rights over government regulations. He promises to reduce government involvement in individual-based decisions on issues like immigration and marijuana. As very recent ex-CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., he can be firmly believed at least on the latter point. In any case, since his underlying belief is that individual rights take precedence, that stand may be transferred onto practically any civil rights issue.

Gary Johnson 2016: Another Longshot?

Johnson himself admits that 2012 is most probably going to happen again (that he makes it to the popular vote without winning). However, the issues he wishes to promote will always be important to the American people. He would rather use the campaigning platform to disseminate his ideas,  than go for votes and end up compromising to get winning votes.

About the author

Esther has a B.A. in Humanities and an M.A. in Political Economy. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing Sequence with her family, training in Aikido, and curling up with coffee and a good book.