Ep. 1: 2016 Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson

A Step Ahead: Gary Johnson

Hi everyone, this is Kish Rajan, Chief Evangelist at CALinnovates. Along with our Executive Director, Mike Montgomery, we welcome you to the new CALinnovates podcast, where we’ll be sitting down with elected officials and policy advocates, and other thought leaders, to discuss issues of critical innovation, technology and public policy matters that face California and the country. We’ll be talking to guests of all kinds and we’ll be broadcasting this regularly. We hope that you’ll join us for this important series of discussions about the future of our state and our country.

We’re so pleased this time to be joined by Libertarian party candidate for President, former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson.

Governor Johnson, thanks for being here, really appreciate it.

Gary Johnson: Oh thank you. Yeah.

It’s nice to see you.

Great opportunity.

Yeah. Welcome to California.


You’re one of millions that’ll visit here this year, for business or leisure travel, and many of those folks avail themselves of sharing economy services. Uber, for ride share, Airbnb, home share, and the like. Are you a user and what do you think about the tremendous growth of that new space in our economy these days?

I have said repeatedly, I think that this is the model of the future. Uber everything. Eliminating the middle man. Allowing for you as the provider of goods and services, to directly give that to the end user, eliminating the middle man, so the end user saves money and you make more money as the provider. Airbnb, in Santa Fe right now, they have restricted the use of Airbnb. My partner and I Kate, I think we have this great opportunity to rent our place out. I built my dream home north of Taos, but we have this great opportunity to rent out our place, and they’re restricting Airbnb from existing.

That’s not unusual.

It’s not unusual.

In the sharing economy generally, there’s a lot of reaction on the parts of state and local governments that have tried to hinder these models, or try to find ways to force them into their regulatory box.

Can they not see the fact, that me, that I get a little bit of extra income that I’m going to be spending in my community or paying in tax? It’s just so short sighted.

I think it’s a great point in terms of the owners of those properties to be able to continue to derive some additional income, or you know, monetizing those. But it’s also the users. I think particularly, it’s not exclusively this, but certainly younger consumers. Their perception of getting a ride or staying some place has fundamentally changed. One wonders, now in your candidacy, one wonders whether politics and policy is catching up with where the generational attitudes and cultures are headed.

Well, if I’m elected President, just count on me to use that bully pulpit to point out how good these things are and stop with the restriction. Stop with the restriction. If there are, and I am sure that there are initiatives that are going to be launched to restrict them federally.

There’s no doubt. You can count on it. At CALinnovates, we actually have a poll in the field right talking directly to millennials and to voters, and asking them about attitudes, and trying to match up where the gaps may be, and sort of where the policy conversation is headed. We’ll talk more about that for sure.

It’s exciting.

A big topic of security versus privacy. Of course, sadly, we’ve seen so many tragic events that have happened, criminal events, shootings, terrible things that have happened, and sadly, it seems that the scale of these is growing. Given how lethal these attacks are, and the opportunity to be able to potentially interdict those things to prevent them, shouldn’t the government be able to take greater action in that regard?

There is a process, and it’s due process. It’s presenting evidence to a judge and actually getting warrants to be able accomplish exactly what you’re talking about. When the NSA has the ability to collect metadata, and I am saying something here that I really have no appreciation for whatsoever, because what does metadata of 110 million Verizon users really amount to? To me, that is wrong. There has not been one shred of evidence to come forward that anything has been prevented, thwarted, or discovered as a result of this massive collection of all of our personal information.

Let me switch gears. Something that’s happened that’s been so stunning globally has been the Brexit vote, that decision by the voters. There’s a lot of dimensions to that and a lot of reasons I suppose about why that happened. One element that’s been talked a lot about is immigration and anxiety, in Britain, around greater immigration. Some would say that that’s a present conversation, certainly in the Presidential campaign here in the United States as well. Of course in California, in the Bay Area, in this thriving innovation economy, it seems that a big asset, one of the great contributors to the success here, has been that we’re a melting pot of immigrants that are contributing their talents. I’m curious as to your feelings about immigration, and the implications to the innovation economy.

Running for President of the United States, we should embrace immigration. We’re a country of immigrants. All innovation has stemmed from innovation. We should make this as easy as possible for anybody that wants to come into this country and work to be able to get a work visa. Get government out of the quota, out of establishing quotas. There’ll either be jobs or there won’t be jobs. A work visa should entail a background check. We don’t want criminals in this country, and it should include a social security card, so that applicable taxes get paid, but come on. We’re a country of immigrants, a hard working people that are coming here to this country to achieve what any American hopes to achieve.

It certainly seems again that this cuts a lot on age lines. I mentioned that we’re in the field with the poll, looking at attitudes. A lot of data in the Brexit vote, the analysis of that vote, showed very big divides between younger voters and older voters, about their feelings on immigration, multiculturalism, and technology. I wonder if you see those similar divides emerging here and what we can do to try to bridge those.

Well, yes I do, this is protectionist. We are at a crossroads in my opinion, and I don’t think we should go down the road of being protectionists. I think we’re going to find ourselves in a recession. The Brexit vote for me was a vote against the crooning capitalism of Europe, that’s the way I looked at it. It really puts in doubt any Euro based investment, for years to come, and it makes the United States really a safe haven for dollars, I think, for years to come. I’m talking now about worldwide investment and what should be viewed as the safe haven. Unless of course we screw it up by becoming isolationists ourselves.

Final question. Technology is permeating all aspects of our lives. It certainly is changing the way the political campaigns take place. It’s been some time since the first time you ran for office in New Mexico. I’m wondering if you, what have you noticed in your observations about how much campaigning has changed, how much politics has changed, because of the innovations and the advent of new technologies?

What’s exciting for me is I might get elected President. If I do, I will have spent less money than any political candidate in modern history made possible by social media.

I have to tell you, I’ve seen the latest web ad that you have that’s out on social media right now. You and your running mate, Governor Weld. I must say, it’s very creative. It’s clearly catching on because I know it’s been viewed by millions of people, so that’s certainly an indication of how quickly you can have an impact with the right kind of content online.

Right. Doesn’t cost anything other than the production and the relative production costs are very low. Anyway, it’s exciting.

Well, Libertarian candidate for President, Governor Gary Johnson. Thanks so much for being with us on INNOVATE2016 and good luck the rest of the way.

Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you very much.