Q&A: Gary Johnson on His Failed Presidential Bid and What’s Next

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Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson won 1.1 million votes on Tuesday, more than any other Libertarian presidential candidate in history. In an interview with TIME, Johnson talks about his campaign, the consequences of re-electing Obama and his plans for the future.
Was it worth it?

As I told the students every time I visited a campus, you are the director of your own movie, and if you aren’t enjoying what you are doing, change it. That’s the way I operate, and if this campaign hadn’t been worth it every day, I wouldn’t have been out there. The ideas we are promoting are important, and having the opportunity to go out and promote them every day is not only worth it but essential.

What was the high point of the campaign for you?

There were many great moments, but the most heartening experience was visiting college campuses around the country and having hundreds of young people turn out to ask the tough questions, enlist in our movement and display a level of energy that was truly encouraging for the future.

What do you think your candidacy accomplished?

I hope that people will see that we don’t have to sit by the sidelines and watch as the two major parties limit their choices to slightly different flavors of the status quo. It is, in fact, possible to join the fray, stand up for principles and offer a real alternative. Of course, now that we appear to have re-elected the status quo, both in the White House and in the Congress, I hope those same people will see that there is a very real need for the process to welcome, rather than exclude, new and different ideas.

Any predictions for Obama’s second term?

Regardless of who wins, an election should be a time for optimism and fresh approaches. It obviously remains to be seen if that will be the case in a second Obama term. I fear that it will not be. I am actually one of those who took President Obama at his word when he first ran — that he would get us out of ill-advised wars, that he would do something about health care costs and that he would protect civil liberties. Like many Americans, I was disappointed. If the President somehow sees his re-election as an endorsement of his first term, I fear that we could be in serious trouble. We cannot sustain another four years of growing debt, wars we cannot afford and ever expanding government. Based on the outcome of the election, I frankly see a continuation of gridlock as Washington puts politics ahead of the good of the country and refuses to truly address the challenges we face. If that is the case, I am afraid the next four years may look a lot like the last four.

What have you personally gotten out of running for President?

I have gotten thousands of new friends, a renewed sense of optimism from the energy and determination I see in our young people and the satisfaction of doing something rather than sitting on the couch and watching our country go in a direction that it cannot sustain.

What are you doing now, and what do you plan on doing in the future?

Right now, I’m taking a deep breath, recharging the batteries and giving serious consideration to how best we can deploy the grassroots organization we built and the tremendous energy of our supporters to put individual liberty and economic freedom back on America’s agenda. To the extent that I can continue to give voice to those ideas, I will.