Gary Johnson is a former two-term governor of New Mexico and current candidate for the GOP nomination for President. He is known for his low-tax libertarian views and is an avid mountain climber and triathlete.
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Harvard Political Review: Where do you differ with fellow libertarian-leaning presidential candidate Ron Paul?
Gary Johnson: I have the unique experience of leading a start-up business that eventually employed over 1,000 people. I also served 8 years as governor of New Mexico and, while Ron Paul got to register his principled “no” vote on issues he disagreed, I got to debate and discuss my vetoes for weeks on end. Lastly, I am not a social conservative. I would describe myself as a classical liberal, and I support a woman’s right to choose.
HPR: What is the Gary Johnson plan for economic recovery?
GJ: I believe we are on the verge of a monetary collapse. We’re not immune to the mathematics of continuing to spend more money than we take in. If elected, I will submit a balanced budget to Congress in 2013 that will reduce federal spending by 43%. I also promise to veto any legislation where expenses exceed revenue and to advocate for throwing out the entire federal tax system and replacing it with Fair-Tax. I share in the outrage of Occupy Wall Street protesters that government picks winners and losers, and implementing FairTax would fix this.
HPR: How do you explain being left out of nearly every primary debate?
GJ: No matter how you cut my exclusion, I think you just have to judge it as grossly unfair. CNN excluded me from the second debate after coming up with a rule that I had to be at 1% in 5 national polls, even though I met that criteria. During my last debate, Fox News Network chose to interpret the rule as the last 5 national polls where my name appeared and, as a result, I was included. I don’t want to claim to be ahead of others that have been given opportunity, but I just want to claim equal footing to those individuals and I’m not being given that equal footing.
HPR: What would you do today in the Middle East if you had the chance to reshape American foreign policy?
GJ: I would get out of Afghanistan and Iraq tomorrow. I would not have participated in Libya. I think involvement needs to start with a military threat and that occurred in none of these countries, including Iraq. I originally thought involvement in Afghanistan was totally warranted, but I think we wiped out al-Qaeda after the first 6 months. We’re building roads, schools, bridges and hospitals in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries and we have those same needs here.
HPR: Can you explain your policy on marijuana legalization?
GJ: I’ve advocated legalizing marijuana. Control it, regulate it, tax it. I’m opposed to the drug war but right now Republicans can’t grab ahold of the notion that half of what we spend on law enforcement, the courts and the prisons is drug-related, and to what end? We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and this is America? I think if we legalize marijuana we will take giant steps as a nation to come to grips with rational drug policy in this country which starts with looking at drugs as a health, rather than criminal justice, issue.
HPR: Where do you view the viability of your campaign right now?
GJ: The viability at this point depends on being in these debates, so I’m not viable. This is a real uphill battle and just not being treated fairly, which is what I actually expected to be the case, leaves a real bad taste. I continue to be out here on the road talking to as many people as I can, but that doesn’t quite compare to the debates where millions of people can tune in.
Naji Filali ’14 is a Staff Writer. This interview has been condensed and edited.
Photo Credit: Ron Hill, Wikimedia Commons