Gary Johnson Is Like a Box Of Chocolates: You Never Know What You’re Going to Get

Remember in the movie Forest Gump when Forest said this now-famous line? “My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Well, he and his momma could have been talking about alleged Libertarian Gary Johnson. Just when you thought there might be a presidential candidate who truly stands for liberty and personal freedom, you end up with a box of rather surprising fruit and nuts.

Bless his heart, he seems to be really confused about a few things. First of all, I don’t think “libertarian” means what he thinks it means. Maybe he just couldn’t get nominated as a Democrat or a Republican. Secondly, his firmly held opinions seem to firmly change, depending on who he’s talking to and whether he wants to pander to the right or to the left. (At the moment, he’s leaning left.)

Johnson just can’t seem to take a consistent stance on several big issues.

Mandatory Vaccines

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former (Republican) governor of New Mexico, changed his stance on a controversial issue: mandatory vaccination.

In 2011, Johnson said

But, in an interview with VPR yesterday, he said

“You know, since I’ve said that … I’ve come to find out that without mandatory vaccines, the vaccines that would in fact be issued would not be effective,” he said. “So … it’s dependent that you have mandatory vaccines so that every child is immune. Otherwise, not all children will be immune even though they receive a vaccine.”

Johnson said he believes vaccination policy should be handled at the local level.

“In my opinion, this is a local issue. If it ends up to be a federal issue, I would come down on the side of science and I would probably require that vaccine,” he said.

I’d like to know what Johnson means by “require that vaccine.”

To what extreme would he go to enforce that “requirement”?

Would he lock parents up for refusing to vaccinate their children?

Johnson went on to explain that his change of heart occurred recently:

“It’s an evolution actually just in the last few months, just in the last month or so,” he said. “I was under the belief that … ‘Why require a vaccine? If I don’t want my child to have a vaccine and you want yours to, let yours have the vaccine and they’ll be immune.’ Well, it turns out that that’s not the case, and it may sound terribly uninformed on my part, but I didn’t realize that.”

Pssst…you still sound terribly uniformed, sir.

While the Libertarian Party does not have an official stance on vaccination, the party’s platform is one of self-ownership and individual rights:

Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and must accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government.

Individuals own their bodies and have rights over them that other individuals, groups, and governments may not violate. Individuals have the freedom and responsibility to decide what they knowingly and voluntarily consume, and what risks they accept to their own health, finances, safety, or life.

I guess Johnson didn’t get that memo.

Oh, but wait!

Yesterday Johnson attempted to clarify his stance on mandatory vaccinations at a rally in New Hampshire.

Here’s what he said, from Reason:

And I support a person’s right to choose, so when it comes to vaccinations we should be able to make the decision whether we want to vaccinate our kids or not. I choose to vaccinate my kid and you never say never. Look, in the case of a zombie apocalypse taking over the United States, and there is a vaccine for that, as president of the United States, you might find me mandating that vaccine.

A zombie apocalypse? Really.

Johnson’s campaign sent a detailed statement on his mandatory vaccination stance to Reason (commentary in italics is mine):

Today, there are no federal laws mandating vaccinations, and that is as it should be. No adult should be required by the government to inject anything into his or her body.

Notice he says ADULT…what about the children?

Each of the 50 states has varying vaccination requirements for children, consistent with their responsibilities for public education and providing a safe environment for students who are required to attend school under state law. Likewise, each of the 50 states has varying opportunities for parents to seek exemptions from vaccination requirements for legitimate reasons of personal belief. That, too, is as it should be.

Sounds just a wee bit socialist there, no? Also, no: “each” of the 50 states does NOT offer an exemption from vaccination for “legitimate reasons of personal belief.” Less than half offer a philosophical exemption, and while all but California allow religious exemptions, one must be prepared to defend that exemption…and the government can override that exemption if it has a “compelling State interest.”

And while I personally believe some states’ ‘opt-out’ provisions are not adequate in terms of personal freedom, those laws and requirements are appropriately beyond the scope of the federal government—including the President.

A true advocate of genuine liberty would say that NO government should have a say in this at all.

Clearly, if and when a major outbreak of a communicable disease occurs that crosses state lines or sweeps the nation, then appropriate levels of government have an obligation to act—and act rapidly. As President, it would be irresponsible to rule out scientifically and medically sound responses to such an emergency.

So, Mr. Johnson, what you are really saying is that you are fine with the government enforcing mandatory vaccination.

Government has a responsibility to help keep our children and our communities safe. At the same time, government has a responsibility to preserve individual freedom. Vaccination policies must respect both of those responsibilities. I personally believe in vaccinations, and my children were vaccinated. But it is not for me to impose that belief on others.

Again, sounds a bit – no, a lot – socialist. Government has a responsibility to keep children safe? Since when? If that were the case, it sure as heck would not be mandating vaccinations!

Let’s contrast Johnson’s flip-floppy comments with the stance of Ron Paul.

Paul, who has run for president as a Libertarian and a Republican and is a retired PHYSICIAN – has warned that there are two issues to consider regarding mandatory vaccination: the medical issue, and the liberty issue.

In an interview last year, Dr. Paul said,

I think, medically, there are a lot of arguments still going on on what should be done, and I think that it’s not hard and fast. It hasn’t been settled. I think sometimes you hear that… there is absolutely no discussion on global warming. Everybody knows the absolute facts, and if you don’t, you are some sort of nut and they don’t look at it, and this is the way this is. But the bigger question for me is, why do we allow our politicians to get involved and make major, major decisions like this?

I think that what we must do is further the education and there is a lot going on with the education, because there is a great deal of danger with these immunizations.

Can you call Mr. Johnson and explain this to him, please, Dr. Paul?

It’s difficult to figure out which angle Johnson is trying to take. He contradicts himself at every turn.

On August 16, 2016  Johnson wrote an editorial for Time, arguing, “We need to stop criminalizing personal choice.”

Here’s an excerpt from that piece.

I sometimes wonder: Why is it so difficult for so many to grasp that in a free society, we need to allow people to make choices, even if we might personally disagree with those choices and as long as they don’t harm others.

Defending someone else’s beliefs and non-harmful actions is defending civil liberties. And standing up for civil liberties and civil rights is the essence of America.

Conversely, when government tries to impose values on society and limit personal choices, it doesn’t work—and it shouldn’t.

Yet, he supports the idea of mandatory vaccination. What a head-scratcher.

But, unfortunately, that’s not all…Johnson is also okie-dokie with allowing government to meddle in other parts of our lives.

Religious Freedom

In March, the Fox Business Network aired a presidential forum for three LP candidates. When the topic of religious liberty and discrimination came up, Johnson said:

“I think that if you discriminate on the basis of religion, I think that is a black hole. I think you should be able to discriminate for stink or you’re not wearing shoes or whatever. If we discriminate on the basis of religion, to me, that’s doing harm to a big class of people.”

When one of the other candidates asked Johnson if a Jewish baker should be required to bake a Nazi-themed wedding cake, Johnson offered a startling reply:

“That would be my contention, yes.”

Johnson doubled down in an interview with Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner in late July:

Carney: You think it’s the federal government’s job to prevent—

Johnson: “Discrimination. Yes.”

Carney: In all cases?

Johnson: “Yes, yes, in all cases. Yes.”

Mr. Johnson, once again, it is time for a review of YOUR PARTY’S principles:

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals.

People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

Members of private organizations retain their rights to set whatever standards of association they deem appropriate, and individuals are free to respond with ostracism, boycotts and other free-market solutions.

Carbon Tax

On Monday, Johnson came out in favor of a carbon tax to fight global warming.

But at that NH rally yesterday, he backtracked:

If any of you heard me say I support a carbon tax…Look, I haven’t raised a penny of taxes in my political career and neither has Bill [Weld]. We were looking at—I was looking at—what I heard was a carbon fee which from a free-market standpoint would actually address the issue and cost less. I have determined that, you know what, it’s a great theory but I don’t think it can work, and I’ve worked my way through that.


Johnson has said he is for gun rights, but in June, he said something alarming to USA Today:

“We should be open to a discussion on keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. I don’t know how that manifests itself, but I’m looking to get elected president of the United States. I just want to let people know I have an open mind about how we might, how government might, interject itself in a lot of the problems we have.”

And, not only did Johnson’s running mate Bill Weld – who has a gun-grabbing history – display profound ignorance about guns in a recent interview, he supports bans and violating due process:

The problem with handguns is probably even worse than the problem of the AR-15. You shouldn’t have anybody who’s on a terrorist watch list be able to buy any gun at all.

But, in the USA Today interview, Johnson said he opposes banning gun sales to those on the terrorist watch lists, because some names may appear on them in error.

It’s time to review the LP’s stance on gun ownership:

We affirm the individual right recognized by the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. Private property owners should be free to establish their own conditions regarding the presence of personal defense weapons on their own property. We oppose all laws at any level of government restricting, registering, or monitoring the ownership, manufacture, or transfer of firearms or ammunition.

This election season is certainly perplexing. Johnson and Weld are former Republicans who are running on the LP ticket and appear to be pandering to the left.

Robert Tracinski of The Federalist explains:

I’m afraid the real reason for the behavior of the Johnson-Weld ticket is the one offered by DC libertarian Bruce Majors, who explains, “The Johnson campaign is aiming for disaffected Hillary and Bernie supporters, and even more for Democrat-leaning Independents.”

They don’t view the election primarily as an opportunity to posture, to educate, or to virtue signal. They view it as a way to get either 5 percent of the vote and federal funding in 2020 or better yet 15 percent in the polls and debate inclusion in 2016, as steps to crack the two party system.

Johnson himself seems to confirm this. In the same interview where he supports a carbon tax, he describes his ticket’s electoral strategy: “It’s a big six-lane highway down the middle that Bill Weld and myself are occupying.”

So, what exactly does Gary Johnson stand for?

That’s a very good question. We’re not sure even he knows this.

We wanted to like Gary Johnson. The research team here at was unanimous in hoping that we’d discover he had been misrepresented, and that he was a viable option who represented the Libertarian platform. (We’re pretending, for the sake of this argument, that voting actually means something.) Lots of our friends really like Johnson, and we hoped to be able to provide them with a conclusive opinion about Johnson’s beliefs. Unfortunately, our Johnsonite friends are probably going to be mad at us now.  But hey, don’t worry. He’ll probably change his mind soon, nullifying our findings yet again.

Currently, our conclusion is this:

As it turns out, Gary Johnson is neither being misrepresented nor is he even really a Libertarian.

The Libertarian Party proclaims itself to be “The Party of Principle.”

Is compromising your party’s platform to suit an agenda a “principled” thing to do?

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