Gary Johnson Policy Positions Rating on a 1-10 Liberal-Conservative Scale
5our score


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Gary Johnson is the 2016 Libertarian Party nominee for President. Johnson was born on New Years Day 1953 in Minot, North Dakota and was raised in New Mexico. Johnson graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1975 with a degree in political science and started his own business, Big J Enterprises, in 1976. Eventually, Big J Enterprises grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise and one of New Mexico’s largest construction firms by the 1990s.  During his time in college, Johnson met his future wife, Denise “Dee” Simms. They were married in 1977 and divorced in 2005.  Dee Johnson died unexpectedly one year later due to hypertensive heart disease. Johnson became engaged to Santa Fe real estate agent Kate Prusack in 2009 after meeting her at a bike race. Johnson is an avid triathlete and mountain climber and climbed the tallest mountains on all seven continents. Johnson is a Lutheran and feels that his belief encourages him to treat others with the utmost respect and kindness.

By the 1990s, Johnson entered into a career in politics as a Republican and was elected Governor of New Mexico in 1994 and was re-elected by a 10% margin in 1998. During his time in office, Johnson earned a reputation as a staunch fiscal conservative with libertarian leanings on many issues. Some of Gary Johnson’s key accomplishments include his reduction in state spending, vetoing a record number of bills, shifting Medicaid to managed care, reducing taxes 14 times, implementing a major road building program, supporting efforts to decriminalize marijuana, and leaving the state with a record budget surplus. Additionally, Johnson left office in 2003 as one of the most popular state governors and was widely praised by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum. One of the main factors behind Johnson’s popularity and success in an overwhelmingly Democratic state was his willingness to go against his own political party on issues that he disagreed with and the fact that he consistently stands up for his core beliefs.

Gary Johnson forged a reputation as a Libertarian-leaning Republican during his time as governor who was not afraid to take on both political parties.

Gary Johnson forged a reputation as a Libertarian-leaning Republican  who was not afraid to take on both political parties during his time in office.

In early 2011, Johnson announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination, emphasizing a 43% reduction in government spending, a balanced budget by 2013, an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan, and improved safeguards to protect civil liberties. Despite his promising platform, Johnson fared poorly in the polls and was quickly eclipsed by rival candidates such as Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich. After withdrawing from the Republican nomination, Johnson announced that he would run for the Libertarian nomination. He won the Libertarian Party nomination in early May of 2012 and selected California judge James P. Gray as his running-mate. The Johnson/Gray ticket received a little less than 1% of the vote nationally, with their best states being New Mexico (3.55%), Montana (2.93%), Alaska (2.46%), Wyoming (2.14%), and Indiana (1.91%).

Johnson announced that he was running for the Libertarian nomination once more in January of 2016. He won the nomination on May 29, 2016 with 55% of the delegates at the Libertarian national convention and selected former Republican Governor of Massachusetts William Weld as his running-mate. In some recent polling, Johnson has polled as high as 11% of the vote nationally due to the public’s dissatisfaction with candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. If Johnson gets above 15% in the polls, there is a good chance that he will be included in the Presidential debates, giving him a chance to better explain his policy ideas and expose the Libertarian platform to a wide audience of potential voters. Additionally, a strong performance by Johnson in the debates may lead to increased public support for third-party candidates and force the two major parties to reform their platforms to better address the demands of the American people.

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Here are Gary Johnson’s main positions on a number of political issues:

  • Supports balancing the federal budget and reducing debt in order to ensure the continued sustainability of the American economy.
  • Johnson supports ending the federal personal and corporate income tax system  and replacing it with the Fair Tax reform proposal, a national consumption tax on new goods and services.
  • Supports reforming the federal reserve by auditing it , establishing clear congressional oversight, and putting an end to quantitative easing policies He argues that such polices will create tens of millions of jobs immediately.
  • Supports free-trade, arguing that such policies correct inequalities between trading partners such as foreign countries’ subsidies for certain industries.
  • Opposed to the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act and instead supports a market-based solution to healthcare reform.
  • Critical of an interventionist foreign policy and supports reducing US military spending by 43% in order to help to balance the budget.
  • Opposed to the War in Iraq since the beginning and is against continued military involvement in Afghanistan.
  • Supports diplomacy and increased trade opportunities with Iran in order to solve long-staining foreign policy issues.
  • Opposed to US intervention in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
  • Opposed to the PATRIOT ACT and supports efforts to protect civil liberties.
  • Open for debate on the subject of gun control in order to reach a common-sense solution.
  • Critical of the War on Drugs and supports the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.
  • Supports school choice and the abolition of the Department of Education.
  • Supported efforts to legalize same-sex marriage across the US, as opposed to leaving the issue up to the states.

Overall, one can rate Gary Johnson’s positions at around a 5 on a scale with 1 being most liberal and 10 being most conservative. The rationale behind this rating is that Gary Johnson is very conservative on fiscal issues, but socially liberal and centrist on foreign policy issues.

the author

Matt is a graduate of Monmouth University. Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

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  1. Nora on June 27, 2016

    Presents a detailed summary of Gary Johnson as a candidate, but I’d be able to understand him better if I could picture his face– perhaps some photos, of him and his colleagues/businesses in particular?

    • Neveah on October 15, 2016

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      • Jacklynn on July 30, 2017

        Son of a gun, this info is so helpful!

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