While attending my first ever National Convention for the Libertarian party last week, there were moments when I was happy, excited, and proud. From May 2nd to May 6th, a total of over 600 delegates representing almost all 50 states joined the convention floor. At times the grand ballroom of the Red Rock Hotel in Las Vegas was buzzing with excitement. As I watched the top two presidential candidates on stage I even had some giddy school girl excitement. It was the kind of 'golly gee, I can't believe I'm here' moments that come few and far between in life.
However, the most memorable moment of all for me was the one that told me all that I needed to know about the man who won the Libertarian Party's nomination for president. It was as I watched Gary Johnson choke back tears during his acceptance speech. He said as he pointed out his son in the audience, "...he quit a successful career over two years ago, to devote himself to helping me in this campaign...If that's not love, I don't know what it is..."
When you first meet Gary Johnson, you would never know what a successful guy he really is. He comes across as very unassuming and quiet. He's very intelligent and never too loud or flashy. He is truly warm and genuine, never one with a fake smile. He is not the kind of man you would ever imagine wanting to get involved in politics. I know it sounds cliché, but I can hardly find the words to describe what a refreshing change he is from the usual talking heads I see on TV these days.
When I first heard about Gary Johnson in 2010, it was when he was in the beginning stages of his run for the presidential nomination with the Republican Party. I was at a college organization's meeting that had first begun in 2008 in support of the Republican Ron Paul's campaign, but had stuck around and continued as a "liberty" (or libertarian if you like) oriented student organization.
The organization professes to be non-partisan, so I had been attending the meetings to see how open they were to hearing about Libertarian candidates. This was where I first heard about Johnson and his 'Our America' initiative, the super PAC he had set up to begin raising money for his campaign.
If you don't know who Johnson is by now, he is the former two term Republican governor of the Democratically dominated state of New Mexico. He recently became the Libertarian Party candidate for president, receiving over 70% of the votes at the National Convention on May 5th. He had an incredible record in NM, vetoing over 750 bad bills and leaving the state one of only four with balanced budgets when he was term limited out of office. The people there still remember him fondly, as he states they still "wave at him with all five fingers, not just one".
Johnson has stated he considered himself a Libertarian for many years. In the mid-1990s when he first set out to run for governor, he had sought out the leadership of the Libertarian party in NM and found them to have a very weak and scattered organization. Being the type of man who doesn't set out to do something unless he plans to succeed, he chose to run as a Republican out of practicality. Late in 2011, after getting zero support from the GOP for his campaign - he decided it was time to come home to the Libertarian Party. He has stated unequivocally since then that no matter what happens this November he plans to continue as a member of and supporter of the Libertarian Party and platform.
After examining his record and meeting and talking with him over several occasions in the last few months, I can honestly say that I think he is one of the few men who have sat in a position of power and influence, who never once considered selling it to the highest bidder. The lobbyists in New Mexico loved him because he was very straightforward with them. They always knew he would take the time to listen and he would always tell them the truth. He listened to their facts and if they had a proposal that he thought was good for the citizens he would back it and if he thought it was not, the answer was no. It was as simple as that.
Unlike others in politics, who seem to only be able to make time for those who make large contributions to their re-election coffers, this man is different. He is perhaps one of the only state governors who literally had an 'open door' policy for all of the state's citizens. As governor he hosted a monthly 'open door at 4', where for several hours once a month he would listen to anyone and everyone who wanted to come to his office and speak with him. I've seen him being as generous with his time and attention to the man on the street as he is with his political peers.
He is a successful man yet remains in my opinion one of the most humble I have ever met. He started a construction company from scratch and grew it to over 1,000 employees. He takes good care of himself, eating the way that most of us should and runs every day.