Gary Johnson

September 11, 2012

I am Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President. AMA.


I am Gov. Gary Johnnson, the Libertarian candidate for President of the United States, and the two-term Governor of New Mexico from 1994 - 2003.

Here is proof that this is me:

I've been referred to as the 'most fiscally conservative Governor' in the country, and vetoed so many bills that I earned the nickname "Governor Veto." I bring a distinctly business-like mentality to governing, and believe that decisions should be made based on cost-benefit analysis rather than strict ideology.

I'm also an avid skier, adventurer, and bicyclist. I have currently reached four of the highest peaks on all seven continents, including Mt. Everest.


To learn more about me, please visit my website: You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr.

EDIT: Unfortunately, that's all the time I have today. I'll try to answer more questions later if I find some time. Thank you all for your great questions; I tried to answer more than 10 (unlike another Presidential candidate). Don't forget to vote in November - our liberty depends on it!

Gary, I can’t thank you enough for doing this! Very excited and energized by your campaign. My questions are:

  1. What do you think the worst ramification will be for Americans if Romney wins in November? And for the rest of the world?
  2. Same question, adjusted for Obama?


Either one of them is going to result in an increased police state, continued state of war, and continued unsustainable debt and spending.

What's your opinion of Mitt Romney?

Wonderful, engaging human being, but I have to tell you that we can't balance the budget, and increase military spending and hold medicare in tact.

What keeps you motivated when numbers may not necessarily be in your favor?

We really don't want to peak too early, so we have them right where we want them.

My question is about gun control.

Governor Romney has a history of banning guns in MA, and Obama has a history of opposing handgun ownership in Chicago and D.C, reinstating the Clinton "Assault Weapon" ban, and opposing the right to carry concealed.

As President, would you support renewing the Clinton Era gun ban?

Do you support "Right to carry" laws that give law abiding citizens like myself the right to carry a concealed firearm to protect themselves?

Thank you for doing this AMA!

I fully support the second amendment. in 1995 I was able to sign concealed-carry legislation when it was cutting edge at that time. I believed this would lead to less overall gun violence.

Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

One horse-sized duck

Hello Gov. Johnson! I just wanted to start off by saying I am a young fan of you and your accomplishments, and was very excited to hear you were running for president as a Republican. Unfortunately they pretty much shafted you right from the start with the Republican Primary Debate Issue. My question is why do you think they targeted you? Honestly, if they were really going after the libertarians of the party, Ron Paul would have been a bigger target.

And as I'm sure you know, Reddit likes to focus on legalization, so I will skip that and jump to what most Redditors disagree with you on--the economy. Can you give your best pitch for a free economy being better than a semi-regulated one?

Oh, and speaking of pitches, you threw the first ball at a local game that I would have done anything to attend, literally the one week I have been out of town in over a year.

Thanks for doing another AMA and please answer more political questions than Obama.

I support the Fair Tax, which is eliminating corporate tax, income tax, and abolishing the IRS. I think adopting the Fair tax kicks crony-capatilism in the rear end. And, crony-capitalism is alive and well.

I'm a college student and I'm wondering what, should you win the presidency, will you do regarding the exorbitant amounts of debt being accrued by us college kids. And also, how do you feel about the space program and what, if any, plans do you have for it?

I cry over your graduating from college with a home mortgage, and no home. I think the reason for high college costs is guaranteed government student loans. Long term, we need to populate another planet, because the Earth is going to encompass the sun. Long term, but short term, we have to balance the budget, or find ourselves with no programs whatsoever.

What are your opinions on the National Defense Authorization Act? Would you have signed it?

I would not have signed the NDAA

One more for you, Gary!

What's the most important thing a redditor like me can do right now to ensure your message is heard this November?


Gov. Johnson, thank you for doing this!

In terms of achieving electoral & campaign finance reform in America, what are your thoughts on these potential solutions:

A combination of all of the above.

Obviously, the RP movement has sparked somewhat of a libertarian uprising in the country. Now it seems we are at a crossroads of what to do next. Some are moving to the LP while some are trying to reform the GOP from the inside to move it more libertarian. I fear that nothing will really result if both are occurring simultaneously. What do you predict will happen in the future?

(edit: typo)

Speaking personally, it is great to not have to beat my head up against the wall anymore.

What are your favorite hobbies? What are your favorite books/movies? Who is your greatest inspiration? How stressful is campaigning for the presidential election?

Favorite hobbies: I'm an extreme outdoor guy. Favorite books: Fountainhead and Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy. I am an avid movie guy. I watch all movies. If I found this to be stressful, I wouldn't be doing it.

What would you do about Gitmo and the people being held there?

How do you respond to critics who say that ending the wars would only exacerbate an already bad unemployment situation?

Torture and the practice of detainment without being charged are practices that need to stop, and are synonymous with Gitmo. Gitmo, as a facility, without these practices taking place, may be a facility that we continue to need in the future as a place to house enemy combatants off-shore.

My son has a rare metabolic disorder call Phenylketonuria. His brain cannot break down an amino acid called Phenylalanine. Having too much can cause seizures and mental retardation. Treatment is a mixture of drinking a formula (which is very expensive), calculating his “phe” count by weighing all the foods that go into his body and by giving him synthetically modified foods lower in “phe”(also very expensive). His mother and I are going through a divorce and she is providing him with state funded healthcare for free. I have recently gotten out of the military (April 2012) and I am now a student in college going on the Post 9/11 GI Bill. My questions are: How will your healthcare plan affect the cost to treat my son for my family and I? What are your plans for Veterans Services including Physical & Mental care for veterans? How do you plan on providing the necessary funds to our veterans who are returning home broken both physically and mentally?

No cuts to military benefits. Sounds like your son is truly in need, and I have to believe that devolving health care to the states would still provide a health care safety net to your son.

How do you intend to break the mold of bipartisianship? Most of America really believes someone can only be either Republican or Democrat and there are no alternatives.

PS - you have my vote already!

I am more liberal than Obama, and more conservative than Romney. I think most Americans fall into this category. Where are they being represented?

Private property in land has no justification except historically through power of the sword. In the beginning of feudal times, certain men had enough military strength to be able to force those whom they disliked not to live in a certain area. Those whom they chose to leave on the land became their serfs, and were forced to work for them in return for gracious permission to stay. In order to establish law in place of private force, it was necessary, in the main, to leave undisturbed the rights which had been acquired by the sword. The land became the property of those who had conquered it, and the serfs were allowed to give rent instead of service.

There is no justification for private property in land, except the historical necessity to conciliate turbulent robbers who would not otherwise have obeyed the law. It is a singular example of human inertia that men should have continued until now to endure the tyranny and extortion which a small minority are able to inflict by their possession of the land.

The present system of distribution is not based upon any principle. Starting from a system imposed by conquest, the arrangements made by the conquerors for their own benefit were stereotyped by the law, and have never been fundamentally reconstructed.

Governor, in your opinion, what good to the community, of any sort or kind, results from the private ownership of land?

I think that private property rights are one of the basic fundamentals of this country, and support private property rights.

Governor Johnson: I agree with you on many issues, but abolishing the IRS seems a bit extreme. How do you plan to raise money for the government to function without an IRS-like agency?

Fair Tax, which is one federal consumption tax, and it would be administered by the states. Simple, simple, simple.


The belief that politics really is a higher calling, and the ability to do good by others is really important. I also understand doing good by others is big time debatable.

If you could pick any celebrity to be to president who would you choose?

I have to pick myself, even though I don't think I qualify as a celebrity.

What are your thoughts on the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and what do you think is the best course of action for our mission there?

Withdraw immediately. Bring the troops home.

I’m gay. What specifically would you do to fight for my rights? Do you differ from President Obama on this subject in anyway? How so?

I believe marriage equality is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Leave it to the states and nothing changes.


Thank you!

Your platform includes closing the department of education; what will you do to insure every American receives schooling should they desire? What about higher education? What role will the government play in insuring their future financial stability?

While I understand regulations may prove to be impediments to business, which regulations would you maintain? For example, banking regulations removed by Regan and Clinton are now viewed as the major stepping stones that have led to today’s financial crisis.

What does common sense tell you about environmental issues?

Government exists to protect us against individuals, groups, and corporations that would do us harm. Rules and regulations should exist to accommodate this. The EPA protects us against those that would pollute, and without them a lot more polluters would be allowed to pollute.

Do you believe your stance on marijuana will cause older people, or people generally not in favor of marijuana use to dismiss you as just "that guy for pot legalization" instead of focusing on your other stances on issues?

Hopefully, this issue will be a litmus test as to whether or not I have a brain.

Thank you for doing this AMA, I have been working with your campaign since June and it’s been a great experience. Most of the people who I try to convert to the libertarian cause, however, have asked me the following question (or something similar) about the Fair Tax Plan.

It sounds great on paper, but I am curious as to how you would enact it without loopholes and corruption on Capital Hill. It seems like interest groups and lobbyists would render such a plan impossible to enact purely. “Surely you can’t tax food at the same rate as tobacco”, Agriculture corporations might say for example.

As President, would you have any way to combat these interest groups who would seek to make the Fair Tax system just as corrupt as today’s? It seems that your election would result in little more than gridlock.

Also, would you make an effort to minimize political rhetoric even after being put on the big stage, or would you spew the same “We Love America, This is For America” BS that Washington is currently infested with? If not, how would you get a bigger voting base? Some people have argued with me that you would just turn into another empty-rhetoric loving politician as soon as your voting base got large enough to demand it.

I will not succumb to the BS, and Fair Tax really does cover all of these issues. Check it out.

What will you do to help fix the broken and unsustainable factory farming system in the US? Animal cruelty, environmental damage, and communal damage surrounding the factories are all major points here.

I think education brings change. The more light we shine on these issues, the better they become. As a consumer, I am demanding these changes.

  1. Let's be real: Appearing on television, going door-to-door, and posting on social media can only get you so far even if you have great principles and a solid message, even if a lot of people know about you or you get a debate spot. Do you think some things need to be changed about the Presidential election system (primaries, funding, voting system, etc) itself before most people stop viewing 3rd parties and independents as a wasted vote or spoiler? If so, what?

  2. You've ran an Ironman and climbed Mt. Everest, what's the next outdoor physical activity you want to accomplish?

Please come to Madison, WI!

I am scheduled to go climb Aconcagua, with my family this fall, barring my being elected president. Sticking with what's real, you can't change reality, so we're trying to compete as the rules are written.

First, thank you for doing another AMA, I wasn't aware of the last one when it happened.

In your last AMA in response to what your first action as president would be you said, "First action as president is to submit a balanced budget to congress in 2013. So my first action is to start this process which is to create a blueprint for a 43% reduction in government spending."

43% is so specific, I have to ask. How did you come up with that number? What would be a priority using 57% of the current federal budget?

43% is the amount of money that we are printing and borrowing, so 43% is the amount we need to cut from federal spending.

As a Libertarian, I imagine that your policy proposals would not be popular with the members Congress. If you were president, how do you think the two-party dominated Congress would respond to your policy proposals? And how would you get Congress on board with your policies?

I'm kind of excited about the prospect of coming at Democrats hard from the left, and coming at Republicans hard from the right. Challenge them both to be good at what they are supposed to be good at.

My question is about marijuana. Obviously you are pro-decriminalization. But my question is, when did you last smoke it? Honestly.

2008 I had used marijuana for the prior 3 years to deal with a serious paragliding accident.

You've got my vote.

Thank you!

How do you feel about Ron Paul running as a Republican?

Kudos to Ron Paul. Trying to change the Republican party resulted in a lot of knots on my head. Changing to the Libertarian party, nothing had to be changed.

Governor Johnson, if you lose this election, will you please, PLEASE continue to try to hold political positions? Perhaps congress or the senate? Thank you for doing this!

I plan to stay involved, but not running for Congress, or the Senate. I think both jobs are judged by how much bacon you bring home, and I refuse to be a part of that.

You've had my vote Mr. Johnson since your infowar interview a few months back. Go president Johnson!

My question is related to GMO's and the genetically modified foods that you, myself, the cattle and everyone else here are somehow consuming in our everyday lives. How do feel about this monopoly that Monsato has set-up and the immunity they are getting in the courts via Judge Naoimi Buchwald of February 24th. I want them out of my produce!

Also, any comments on the 9% Congressional approval rating?

I have celiac disease, so I need food labeled. I think food should be labeled, and that would include GMOs in food. 9% Congressional rating - well deserved.

Do you still believe that no crimes were committed in the lead-up to the 2008 economic collapse?

Crimes were definitely committed in the lead-up to the 2008 collapse, and aftermath.


As governor of New Mexico, all jobs were up for grabs. Be qualified, come apply. So, save your money and come apply.

Governor Johnson, I have a couple concerns with your platform and I was hoping you could clear it up for me as I didn't find additional details elsewhere.

  1. I understand that you intend to dismantle the Department of Education, I personally place a very high value on education and think it should be treated with very high priority. While I realize your reasoning for your plan as to the DoE is to allow local governments to have more of a role in setting standards and curriculum. But how do you plan to deal with the financial ramifications of this? Would aid to schools cease all together? Be diminished? If so over what time frame do you think this might take place.

  2. I'm a fairly young man, voting age, but not "professional" age. So my income is pretty low, even working full time. My concern is with your stance on taxation as it relates to the FairTax you favor. I 100% agree conceptually with the fairness of a consumption tax, however since I live mostly paycheck to paycheck I don't ever have time to save. So this tax while being equal in cost to both me and my upper middle class neighbor, it is taking up a larger percentage of my weekly income, thus making the tax burden harder on me. While I realize that this is "fair" it's a hard pill to swallow when making sure I have enough to eat is a real concern if my wife or I should become unemployed or unable to work. Do you have any plans to allow essential goods (base foods, etc.) to be tax exempt or reduced to account for this?

I know those were long but I appreciate you taking the time to interact with the voter base like this. It means a lot. So thank you very much.

It costs the states money to take federal money. So, do away with the Department of Education, save the states money, and have 50 laboratories work on improved education. The Fair Tax issues everyone a $200 per month prebate check that allows all of us to pay the Fair Tax up to the point of the poverty level. This is their answer to the rightful criticism that a consumption tax is regressive.

How can we get you to 15% in the polls to get you in the debates?


Does a nuclear Iran pose an existential threat to America, and what, if any, military intervention would you consider appropriate?

I am the only candidate that does not want to bomb Iran. I believe that all of our military interventions have resulted in hundreds of millions of enemies to this country that would otherwise not exist, but for our military interventions.

What is your plan to be included into the national debate scene? And do you think that would show some legitimacy for your campaign to those who may still not be familiar with you?

good luck- you have my vote

We are just going to keep pluggin'

I matched you 94% on Thats a really cool website, did you create it?

I didn't create it, but I appreciate the guys who did!

There are four candidates receiving matching FEC funds paid for by our taxes: Johnson, Obama, Romney, and Stein.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has a literal monopoly on the presidential debates. With the debates widely thought to be the most influential aspect of a campaign, some have said that in order to have a chance at winning the election, you must be allowed to participate in the debates. The CPD makes up their own arbitrary debates rules which seem to be intentionally exclusionary, while at the same time maintaining the facade that they are a nonpartisan organization whose main goal is to provide the best information possible regarding debates, stating that "the debates belong to the people."

The fact of the matter is, providing the best information possible is simply not possible without inviting every candidate who has a mathematical chance of winning to the debates. Therefore the CPD cannot accomplish their mission statement without inviting you to the debates.

There are organizations such as Open Debates and Help The CPD who are heavily petitioning the CPD to invite all candidate who have a mathematical chance at winning, and citizen outrage over exclusionary debate practices by the CPD may never have been higher.

My question: What are the most effective methods for your supporters to help you get an invite to the debates? There is a lot of talk that the CPD needs to be replaced with a non-bias entity, do you agree with this and how do you believe this be achieved?

The most effective thing that anyone can do, is to go out and sell your immediate family, friends, and coworkers to the fact that there is a legitimate third choice. Perhaps the only choice.

Are you planning on having any official presence (whether on location or virtual) during the debates?

We've got plenty of cards that we are planning to play, this is one of them.

What's your opinion on the "Spoiler/Nader effect?" Are you worried about it happening this election?

A wasted vote, is voting for someone that you don't believe in. If Obama or Romney are spoiled, they have themselves to blame.

Mr. Johnson-

With the fiscal cliff set to approach if nothing is done, what is your plan to avoid it (if you think it needs avoiding)? How will this plan help the American economy?


Balancing the federal budget now is the only way we have a fighting chance.

Mr. Johnson, thanks so much for doing this.

To me and my friends who support you, it seems that your biggest problem , at least in our area, is that people just don't know who you are. Everyone that we have told about you has gotten on board is very excited about your views. We want to increase our area's awareness about you, and we wanted to try to hold a rally at our local college. What would be the best way to make this happen?

Blogging and social media. Send everyone to

As a very strong supporter of your campaign, a lot of people ask me who Gary Johnson is. What do you think is the perfect answer to give for a potential Libertarian vote?

Entrepreneur, athlete, former governor of New Mexico. This guy has a resume that would suggest that he is going to doggedly pursue everything he is talking about.

Serious question, do you like waffles or pancakes?

Waffles, of course.


The notion that all of us can make the best decisions regarding our own lives, as long as those decisions don't put others in harms way.

If elected, what would you do about welfare?
As a libertarian, I know you're against it, so would you flat-out remove it, or slowly dismantle it?
And thank you for coming back!

As the Libertarian candidate, I am the only one talking about lowering welfare spending, and warfare spending in the same sentence. I'm looking to reform welfare that we would not spend more money than we take in to accomplish it.

I like marijuana. Should I vote for you?


:D we love you!!

Thank you! I love you too.

Thank you so much for doing this, Governor Johnson.

What do you think is a greater threat to America? The national debt, or the overwhelming support for candidates that exacerbate it?

In essence, the cause or the effect?

I put the biggest threat to America as politicians who beat their chests over the threat of drugs, the threat of the illegal immigrant, the threat of terrorism, the threat of poor healthcare, all at a cost of bankrupting America.

What's the first thing you would do in office if elected? Also, how do I convince my family members to vote third party?

Produce a balanced budget document.

I would like to know your stance on abortion as well as your stance on gay marriage. Thank you for your time. Edit: More specifically, would you make gay marriage the same as "marriage" or would it be referred to as a civil union? What types of legal definition changes will happen? How will you handle public outcry?

I fully support a woman's right to choose. I believe that marriage equality is constitutionally guaranteed.

I will be voting for you sir, you are my ideal president

Thank you!

Dear Governor Johnson,

I wanted to ask you a question similar to one asked of President Obama. I am a law student at a top law school and will be absolutely swamped with debt from student loans upon graduation. Unfortunately, in today’s economic climate I am encountering extreme difficulty finding a job. How would you work with Congress to improve today’s economic climate and job market? Thank you.

I think that adopting the Fair Tax will reboot the American economy, and that the private sector will create tens of millions of jobs, with a zero corporate tax rate environment.

Gov. Johnson, I have no question for you. I just want to say thank you. You're awesome!

Thank you!

Taking a step away from politics for a second, I would just like to congratulate you on summiting Everest! That is quite a feat! Keep being a boss Gary!


Gov. Johnson, My question is quite simple - What is the game plan for Michigan? Currently you are not on the ballot.

Last answer. Thank you all very much. We have litigation in Michigan that we believe will prevail. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To Everybody!!!!!

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Gary Johnson conducted on Reddit on 2012-09-11. The Reddit AMA can be found here.