5 Questions For: Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson on civil liberties — including women’s rights

By Megan Carpentier
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 16:00 EDT
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[Image via Governor Gary Johnson on Flickr]
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Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson (R-NM) is now the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, but many of the Libertarian Party’s constituency had their hearts first captured by one of Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) ultimately unsuccessful campaigns. With Paul throwing his weight behind the Romney-Ryan ticket, can his supporters and liberals disappointed in the president’s record on civil rights find a new candidate-to-love in Johnson? And where does he stand on women’s rights, as it becomes a top issue in the race?

Read Johnson’s interview about how he got screwed by the GOP and his answers on tax and entitlement reform, and his answers on marijuana policy.

Raw Story: Interestingly, the Libertarian party is supposedly the party of Ayn Rand, but VP nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) is reportedly one of her acolytes. Where do you think he differs from the Libertarian positions on issues?

Johnson: On every position. Bombing Iran, getting out of Afghanistan tomorrow, bringing the troops home, marriage equality, a woman’s right to choose, the drug war, balancing the federal budget, tax policy. How about those for starters? The National Defense Authorization Act, he voted for it. He voted for the PATRIOT Act. I guess those are nine items, but I’m sure we could find some more. Those are the tenants, those are the issues, those are every single issue.

Raw Story: To speak to some of the other civil liberties issues, where do you come down on this like the wars, indefinite detention, Gitmo, the range of civil liberties that are out there that nobody’s done anything with in the last four years?

Johnson: I would not have signed the National Defense Authorization Act allowing for you and I to be arrested and detained as U.S. citizens without being charged. I would not have signed the PATRIOT Act. I think our civil liberties are being eroded on a daily basis all in the name of “keeping us safe”? Well, I think this is why we’ve fought wars, is to protect civil liberties.

Raw Story: But something like Gitmo, Obama says that Republicans wouldn’t let him shut it down, and here were are four years in. Where do you stand?

Johnson: What I’ve come to recognize is, first all, Gitmo should be shut down for the reasons of torture and detainment without being charged. Gitmo as a facility may in fact be a facility that we actually need. We need a facility to house enemy combatants, but not to house them indefinitely without being charged and not to house them as a facility of torture.

So “Gitmo” for reasons that “Gitmo” has come to symbolize, let’s stop the reasons for what it has come to symbolize. Gitmo itself as a facility?

But Obama could’ve explained that very simply, just as I hope I did right now. “I wanted to close Gitmo, we’ve stopped the practices that I think we all attached to ‘Gitmo’ for why we don’t what ‘Gitmo’ to be open. But Gitmo as a facility, we need the facility.”

Raw Story: The theme of the last couple years in politics has really been women’s rights: from contraceptive access to abortion to “forcible rape,” you have a range of candidates and elected officials on the right talking about how to eliminate what is for many women the status quo when it comes to reproductive health care. Where do you differ?

Johnson: I fundamentally believe in a woman’s right to choice. I hate to even state my own position because of my fundamental belief that this is your decision and no one else’s.

Raw Story: Why do you think the Republican party has ended up at this point?

Johnson: The Republican party is being driven by a core constituency that is not in touch with the rest of the world, if you will. I think, speaking with a broad brush stroke, I think the Libertarian party embodies what most of us believe which is fiscally being responsible and socially being accepting. I don’t use the word tolerant because I’m not just tolerant of people’s social behavior, I’m accepting of their social behavior. I don’t care. I don’t care, as long as it doesn’t put me in harm’s way, but your decisions don’t put me in harms way. My decisions, if they have to do with your reproductive organs may put you in harm’s way, though.

[Image via Governor Gary Johnson on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]

Megan Carpentier
Megan Carpentier is the executive editor of Raw Story. She previously served as an associate editor at Talking Points Memo; the editor of news and politics at Air America; an editor at Jezebel.com; and an associate editor at Wonkette. Her published works include pieces for the Washington Post, the Washington Independent, Ms Magazine, RH Reality Check, the Women's Media Center, On the Issues, the New York Press, Bitch and Women's eNews.
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