Gary Johnson, the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico who ran for president in 2012 briefly as a member of the GOP and eventually as the nominee of the Libertarian Party, has made his first public remarks following last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris, in the form of a press release and an exclusive interview with Reason.
Johnson opposes both boots on the ground and drones strikes on Syria, thinks sharia law is the root of Islamic terrorism, and believes the US should take in its “fair share” of refugees but declined to state an exact number. He also thinks we are at the tipping point toward marijuana legalization and indicated he intends to run for president again in 2016 on the Libertarian Party’s ticket.
Excerpt from the interview:
Reason: The Wall Street Journal and Politico immediately pronounced that the attacks in Paris exposed why someone with libertarian policies should and could never be president. “The election should be a referendum on keeping America safe,” said the Journal, implying that a libertarian could never protect the country because he would be too busy respecting civil liberties. How would a libertarian president keep the country safe?
Johnson: Libertarians are going to stand for liberties, you bet! The only way a libertarian will act military is by being attacked, and we’ve been attacked. I oppose boots on the ground, but you can’t rule out military intervention categorically.
Reason: What does that mean? Drone strikes?
Johnson: When it comes to drones, I think it makes a bad situation even worse. We end up killing innocents and fueling hatred as opposed to containing it. It just hasn’t worked. We need to educate ourselves on the root causes of this, which is Islamic terrorism and the ideology of sharia law. In this country, we’ve become so politically correct that in the name of freedom of religion we have allowed sharia law and its adherents to advance. We need to differentiate between freedom of religion and the politics of sharia law. Freedom of religion, absolutely. But if you’re talking about allowing sharia law that runs contrary to the US Constitution, that is ideologically the war that we need to take on.
Reason: Are there any examples of sharia law being implemented, or even proposed to be implemented, in the United States that you can point to?
Johnson: There’s been a movement in state legislatures to pass “American laws for American courts.” I didn’t get that, but now I do. In Great Britain, they tried to allow sharia law side by side with British law and found it to be unworkable. They said, “If from a religious freedom standpoint, you want to govern your life by sharia law then so be it.” We can’t allow that. Sharia law doesn’t treat women equally. Iran, a country governed by sharia law, executes thirty homosexuals a month. It cannot be allowed to coexist in America. Just like we were right to put (Kentucky clerk) Kim Davis in jail for not adhering to the law, we can’t allow sharia practice to exist in the name of religious freedom. It’s not constitutional.
Reason: Your former party, the Republicans, are dead set against allowing Syrian refugees to enter the country. Republican governors (and at least one Democrat) say the risk of ISIS terrorists slipping in through the process is simply too great. Chris Christie went even further than Ted Cruz by saying he wouldn’t even admit Christian children. We have currently agreed to let in 10,000 by the end of 2017, but some Democrats want to raise that number to 65,000. What would your refugee policy toward Syrians be?
Johnson: We need to take our share, and I’m not sure what that share should be. I’d like to come up with a formula based on our coalition partners. I wouldn’t say zero, but I don’t know if 65,000 puts us in the category of “our fair share.”
And, later in the interview:
Reason: One last question, are you planning on running for president in 2016?
Johnson: Well, I hope to. I hope to be the Libertarian nominee. That’s my intention barring famine or flood.
Reason: When will you announce your candidacy?
Johnson: There’s no advantage to making it official given what I’ll call the clown-car. Given the attention that’s being given to the Republican side. Let that stuff sort it self out and there’s plenty of time for the general election. I thought we’d have done a lot better last election cycle, so I’m not under any delusions. We are suing the Presidential Debates Commission. Eighty percent of Americans say they want another choice and they have no idea why there isn’t another choice. We think at the heart of that is the Commission and we’re suing them on antitrust grounds, on the basis of the Sherman Act, that they collude with the two major parties, that they are a business, and we think the media has also signed similar documents when it comes to televising the debates.