Last year Johnson ran for the Republican nomination for president. For reasons known only to the organizers, he was shut out of three early debates, which effectively killed whatever chance he had of gaining traction in the primaries. But those chances were slim to begin with, given his views on issues such as abortion (he believes "fundamentally in the right … to choose"), gay marriage ("equal access to marriage for all Americans is a right," he says, blasting President Obama for giving the matter only "lip service") and national defense (he would cut the Pentagon 43 percent, just like every other department — except Education, which he would abolish).
Equally problematic in the GOP these days, he also believes in evolution. To make matters worse, "I believe in global warming and that it's man-made." And even though he does not use tobacco, alcohol or caffeine, he did use marijuana for three years to ease the pain from his paragliding accident.
On the other hand, he is not likely to win over many Democrats with his views on gun control ("I don't believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None"), taxes (he cut them 14 times as governor) or Obamacare (he has said it is unconstitutional).
Given those positions, he's a natural fit for the Libertarian Party — whose presidential nomination he won earlier this month. As ABC News put it, Johnson "intends to hit Obama from the left and Romney from the right."
Then he really cuts to the chase:
Johnson has another political Achilles' heel: He is unflinchingly honest. "Always be honest and tell the truth" is one of his Seven Principles of Good Government. A profile in GQ last year put it more bluntly: "There is nothing he will not answer, nothing he will not share. . . . Johnson is fundamentally incapable of bull****ing." Example: When Mitt Romney made a swing through Michigan, he gushed oleaginously about how "I love this state. It seems right here. The trees are the right height. I like seeing the lakes. I love the lakes." By contrast, when a reporter asked Johnson if he would say the same nice things about Michigan that he had said about New Hampshire, he answered: "No, Michigan's the worst."
With those positions and that level of candor, he'll be lucky to get 0.5 percent of the vote. On the other hand, he will probably enjoy the campaign. As he told another newspaper last February, "The endeavor itself is a great adventure. I'm a Zen kind of guy. … You better darn well like the journey, or the destination won't mean anything."
I got to see this for myself last Saturday, when Johnson appeared via skype at the Libertarian Party of Delaware convention. When someone asked him a question about the constitutional authority of the Sheriff in Delaware, he took long enough to insure that they were speaking of the Delaware Constitution, and not the US Constitution. Then he said, "As President I wouldn't get involved in that." Pressed by the speaker, a supporter who obviously wanted him to use "the bully pulpit" on behalf of the Sussex County Sheriff, Johnson stood firm: "The President of the United States has no business telling the people of Delaware how to interpret their own Constitution."