Gary Johnson, former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico and 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate, visited The University of Southern Mississippi Oct. 21 to speak about his seven principles of good government at University Forum.
In the public forum, Gary Johnson detailed different aspects of his life.
In 1975 he graduated from The University of New Mexico with a degree in political science. After college Johnson founded Big J Enterprises, his successful construction company, where he learned how to “hire and fire folks.”
He decided to run for governor of New Mexico as a Republican in 1994, even though he had never been involved in politics before, and the state has twice as many Democratic voters as it does Republican voters. Republican Party leaders said that he could not win. “But, I did,” Johnson said.
He won re-election in 1998 by a higher margin than his first run.
After providing the background on himself, Johnson began to relay some of his policies. “I am a flaming liberal when it comes to social issues,” Johnson said. He provided examples: same-sex marriage should be legal, and abortion should be a choice for the woman, not the government, said Johnson.
While he is socially liberal, he is also a fiscally conservative, free-market capitalist. On taxation, he said he believes in removal of the income, corporate and capital gains tax. He said a fair tax—“a tax on consumption”—would be an economic reform that would create “tens of millions of (private sector) jobs.”
Currently, Johnson is CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc. The company’s mission is “to market legal cannabis products throughout the world to the fullest extent permitted by law,” according to its website. While hinting at possibly having future political endeavors, Johnson playfully stated that he has achieved his dream job as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc.
His seven principles are: become reality driven, always be honest and tell the truth, always do what is right and fair, determine your goals, make sure that people who ought to know what you are doing know what you are doing, do not hesitate to deliver bad news and be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job completed.
The event was part of the lecture series that makes up University Forum. “Every semester, we invite thought-provoking authors and lecturers from all walks of life who share one thing in common: their message sparks discussion and debate,” said Alen Hajnal, coordinator of University Forum and a professor with the Department of Psychology at USM.
Johnson exposes Libertarian Party ideas to students who may not be aware of them, and he provides an alternative to the two-party system that dominates political life, said Hajnal.
Amy Brogan, a senior sociology major at USM, played a role in getting Johnson to speak at University Forum.
“I started investigating the Libertarian Party and discovered that their ideals and my ideals matched,” Brogan said. “I contacted the chair of the Mississippi Libertarian Party who wanted me to get Gary Johnson to speak (at USM).”
This motivated her to contact the Honors College and get Johnson to speak. “He agreed to speak readily, and his staff was very helpful in managing his visit,” Hajnal said.
University Forum is a series of lectures that occurs in both the fall and spring semesters. For more information about Forum events, check the Honors College website.