Everyone’s third-favorite 2012 presidential candidate is back in the ring.
In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session on Tuesday, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said he would like to run for president in 2016. He ran against Mitt Romney and Barack Obama as a Libertarian in 2012.
“Let’s skip the pleasantries and ask the question everyone wants to know the answer to. Will you be running for president in 2016?” one Reddit user asked Johnson.
“I hope to be able to run in 2016,” Johnson replied.
When asked which party he would run under — Libertarian or Republican — he said, “I would love running as a Libertarian because I would have the least amount of explaining to do.”
This news may be scoffable to some — after all, Johnson earned just 1.2 million votes in 2012, or about 1 percent of the popular vote. But he ran the most successful third-party campaign since Ralph Nader in 2000, and we all know how that one turned out.
And while not much may have changed between 2012 and 2016, it’s hard to underestimate the seismic shift toward libertarianism that the Republican Party has undergone in the past few years. Yesterdays Republicans wouldn’t have dreamed of supporting state gay-marriage laws or medical marijuana. Now, the GOP’s big names are skirting those issues, but not openly opposing them, either.
It’s worth remembering that Johnson was at the forefront of both those issues. He’s long been a crusader for legalized marijuana, and he came out in favor of same-sex marriage (albeit not for its federal protection) long before President Obama did.
While social issues hardly decide a presidency, it goes to show that the morals we considered “presidential” yesterday, we may find repugnant tomorrow. And if the 2016 Republican nominee is as clueless about connecting with young voters as Mitt Romney was, a Johnson candidacy might start looking a lot more appealing.
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