So the big campaign news this morning is that invisible Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson has ditched his bid for the GOP nod and thrown in his lot with the Libertarian Party. Johnson, who served two terms as governor of New Mexico, has been left out of all but two of the GOP debates owing to his microscopic poll numbers, and the only time he got any serious media attention was when he uncorked a joke about dog shit during a Fox News debate. "My next door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this administration," he cracked, using a line apparently filched from Rush Limbaugh. After a brief flurry of media interest, he swiftly sank back into obscurity.
Switching parties in the middle of a nomination race is certainly unorthodox, but pretty much everything about Johnson is unorthodox, and the move isn't exactly an ideological stretch. The dude basically is a libertarian. As he told our own Tim Dickinson in a rare in-depth interview in June, he favors legalizing not only marijuana (he admits to having toked up as recently as 2008) but prostitution too! He supports a woman’s right to choose. He's called for liberal immigration reform. His foreign policy views are arguably to the left of President Obama's (he opposed the Libya operation). Where he's an orthodox Republican is in his absurd, faith-based supply-side economics: he’s called for draconian spending cuts and for dropping the corporate tax rate to zero as a means to jumpstart jobs creation.
But as best we can tell, he's a decent enough guy. At least, he struck Tim, based on their conversation, as seemingly "one of the more honest" politicians in the running for the GOP nomination.
So: here's a snippet from the Rolling Stone interview with Gary Johnson. Read it in full here.
Is border violence the main reason you’re for liberalizing drug laws?
I’m opposed to drug war A through Z. Half – 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 of any country in the world. "America, land of liberty and freedom?" You know, that’s baloney. More than 2 million Americans are behind bars now. Communist China has four times the population and they have 1.5 million people behind bars.
Talk to me about your personal marijuana use. Why have you been so upfront about it?
I don’t smoke pot today. I don’t drink alcohol. But I’ve done both of them and I can speak with authority over the fact that there’s a big difference between marijuana and alcohol. And the difference is that marijuana is a lot safer.