Only two weeks after four major Democratic political figures spoke on campus, Macalester’s Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) hosted Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico and 2012 Libertarian presidential nominee, last Friday. The visit was Johnson’s only Minnesota stop on a forty-college “Rally for Jobs, Opportunity and Diversity” tour.
Speaking to 150 people in the Kagin Ballroom, Johnson’s stump speech cited his credentials on libertarian themes of civil liberties, free-market capitalism and a foreign policy of non-aggression.
On economic policy, Johnson said that as Governor he didn’t create a single job in New Mexico, but rather fostered “environments of certainty” which allowed the private sector to create jobs. He also advocated for a “Fair Tax” system in which he would abolish all taxes and instead instate a single Federal Consumption Tax. Johnson also suggested abolishing the Federal Reserve.
“My first executive order as President would be to audit the Federal Reserve,” he said, drawing loud applause from the crowd.
When matching up to his opponents, Johnson believes he is the only candidate ready for the job.
“[When it comes to Romney], you are listening to somebody without one molecule of brain,” he said.
And though he said that he agrees with President Obama ideologically, Johnson is one American who feels the President has not come through.
“If you just match yourself up with the words, I match up with what Obama has to say,” he said. “The words are magic, but the reality doesn’t match the words.”
Johnson argued that voting for either of these candidates would only continue the heightened police state in the country and lead to an escalation of military spending. Citing his own electoral prospects, Johnson said he did not think the six percent of supporters in the latest MSNBC national poll were protest voters. He urged his supporters to go out and speak with friends, family and neighbors about his candidacy and the Libertarian Party.
The event was hosted by Anish Krishnan ’14, co-chair of Macalester’s YAL. Special guests included Andrew Ojeda ’14, the Republican candidate for State Representative of 64A, as well as a representative from the Minnesota Families United campaign and former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura.
Governor Johnson was arguably overshadowed by Ventura’s speech, in which he discussed his concerns for the country’s future.
“Our country is in trouble right now,” Ventura said. “I firmly believe that. I used to live my life and believe that tomorrow will be a better day, that the opportunity would be there. I can’t say that today. Today I have to say, tomorrow could be a worse day.”
Emphasizing his history as an independent candidate for governor with no prior party affiliation, Ventura spoke about the dangers of the two-party system. He cited his recent book, “DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government” in which he likens both Democratic and Republican Parties to street gangs.
Ventura attributed his own success in the gubernatorial race to being allowed to debate as a candidate. He urged the crowd to demand that Johnson be allowed to debate in the upcoming debates.
Ventura also spoke about the harms of what he described as the biased media and spoke in favor of the Internet as a source for news and information.
He concluded with an endorsement for Johnson so that he would not have to run in 2016.
In a Q&A after the speech, many of Johnson’s supporters asked him to reiterate his positions on drugs, crony corporate capitalism, monetary policy and the broken educational system. On this last point he argued that the Department of Education should be eliminated.
“[The DoE provides] 11 cents of funding for every 16 cents of strings attached,” he said. He advocated for moving away from a system where “Washington knows best, Washington top down.”
Krishnan, whose organization was responsible for bringing Gary Johnson to campus, was pleased with the end result.
“It was better than expected and ran smoothly given the time constraints,” he said. “And everyone played a part.”
“[I hope] that [Macalester students] take a look at Gary Johnson and other third party candidates and look away from the binary political system that is in place today,” he said.
Johnson certainly hopes so, too.
“What if you all waste your vote and vote for me?” he asked. “I’m the next President of the United States.”