In Colorado, Marijuana Candidate Gary Johnson Aims to Be Obama's Nader

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During his two terms as New Mexico governor, Gary Johnson was best known for two things: vetoing nearly half of the bills that reached his desk, and advocating for marijuana legalization.

Now, as the Libertarian candidate for president and man of the hour for bereft marijuana-minded voters, Johnson is angling to become forever known as the Ralph Nader of 2012 -- the third-party spoiler who ruined a major-party candidate's chance at the White House.

Republicans have to date appeared most fearful of Johnson: GOP operatives sued to keep him off of the ballot in some states, and the media's run with the risk-to-Romney storyline. But in swing state Colorado, Johnson's campaign is running robocalls that call out President Barack Obama for allowing his Justice Department to shut down state-legal cannabis dispensaries. This is a move aimed at liberals and the youth, both of who will vote on a marijuana legalization measure Tuesday.

Johnson's been on point across the country, in speeches and in interviews, claiming a vote for Obama or Romney is a wasted vote. More liberal than Obama on civil liberties and more conservative than Romney on the budget, Johnson doesn't care who wins tomorrow. Either way, the American public will know how similar the two mainstream parties are, he says.

This narrative hits medical marijuana supporters hard. After all, it was Obama who promised on the campaign trail that he'd respect states' rights on medical marijuana -- a promised echoed by Attorney General Eric Holder until federal prosecutors started shutting down countless cannabis dispensaries in California, Colorado, Montana, Michigan, and elsewhere.

Colorado presents a peculiar pickle for the state's Democrats and Republicans -- both are loath to become known as the hanging chads of their day. The state is traditionally in favor of small government, but voted for Obama in 2008, and voters will decide on a marijuana legalization measure, Amendment 64, which is opposed by Democrats and backed by some Republicans.

In short, it's a hot mess.

"We have a natural fit with Colorado," Johnson said in an interview with Businessweek. "I embrace the notion of being a spoiler." 

To hear Johnson say he's out to spoil either candidate is balm for a third-party supporter; but Johnson's robocalls in Colorado -- which is, according to most polls, at a dead-even heat between Democrats and Republicans -- seem aimed at winning over the same young vote that's expected to turn out for that state's marijuana-legalization measure Tuesday.

"In 2008, candidate Obama promised not to use the Justice Department to prosecute medical marijuana in states where it was legal," the robocall says, according to the Christian Science Monitor. "But the real Obama did just that, more than doubling prosecutions, putting people in prisons and shutting down medical marijuana facilities in Colorado. That's not the change you wanted on health freedom. But you can still be a force for hope and change by voting for Gary Johnson."

It seems unlikely that a Romney supporter, hearing that message, will cast their vote for Johnson. And that's fine with him, but it will likely not be good for marijuana supporters.

As bad as Obama may have been, reluctant supporters of the president tend to agree that Romney would be much, much worse. 

"The choice between Obama and Romney on this issue," the Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann said, "is the choice between a disappointment and a disaster." And with each robocall, Johnson is steering cannabis advocates further toward the iceberg.

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21 comments
KittenPaws
KittenPaws

Gary Johnson is so much more than a Pot President. This article hardly does Johnson justice.

malcolmkyle16
malcolmkyle16 topcommenter

Prohibition has finally run its course: Our prisons are full, our economy is in ruins, the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans have been destroyed or severely disrupted. What was once a shining beacon of liberty and prosperity has become a toxic, repressive, smoldering heap of hypocrisy and a gross affront to fundamental human decency. 

 

Former and present Prohibitionists shall not be allowed to remain untainted and untouched by the unconscionable acts that they have viciously committed on their fellow citizens. They have provided us with neither safe communities nor safe streets. We will provide them with neither a safe haven to enjoy their ill-gotten gains nor the liberty to repeat such a similar atrocity.

 

Beviant
Beviant

Johnson may not win but if we can get 5% of the national vote to go to the libertarian party THIS election, it will force the two majorities to adjust to the voters.

silk_muse
silk_muse

Marijuana Candidate? Is that really the best you can do? Pathetic misinformation abounds. To "steal" a vote (or to steal anything else) implies it actually belonged to someone else in the first place. Speaking for myself and many others -- Gary Johnson has my vote in his own right. There was no one else capable of garnering it.

libertarianamazon
libertarianamazon

Don't forget, Obama renewed the Patriot Act three times and signed NDAA (indefinite detention without being charged or trial) and says CISPA (where the government can monitor your Internet use and censor your emails) doesn't go far enough. Johnson is against the Patriot Act, Against NDAA, against CISPA and had a job growth record of 11.6% during his two terms as governor. Want your freedoms back and a better economy with job growth? Better check out Johnson and consider voting for him if you do.

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

It's really a strange thing, that people are claiming that Mr. Johnson will "steal" votes from Mr. Obama. The 1980 election was the first I was eligible to cast a vote and by happenstance I became aware of the Libertarians in the summer of 1980. I've never voted for any other party that the Libertarians had or endorsed a candidate. But in every other election people claimed I was "stealing" my vote from the Republican.

 

BTW, if you think my vote belongs to anyone except Mr. Johnson, then you've got a screw loose in your brain.

totink
totink

So, the GOP tries to keep Gary off the ballots, but somehow Mr. Johnson is going to cost Obama the election.  I think the author of this article is ignoring the obvious.My two cents:  find some disenfranchised member from the opposite establishment party that you identify yourself with, and get them to trade/swap votes with you.  If neither of you vote for your establishment candidate, then you are both free to vote for a third party candidate of your choice, guilt free.Still have questions or don't understand, watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyggEs3dXA4

andersenj92
andersenj92

Not exactly correct to say that Romney is a disaster when it comes to Marijuana state legislation. He has said in interviews that he considers it a federal spending issue and would not spend federal money to interfere in state mariguana laws

ashleyliz6
ashleyliz6

I follow Johnson, I'm a supporter. No matter what my views I cannot allow what we have had for 4 years to continue. The best act of change is for a candidate like Johnson and Ron Paul to run in 2016 with advertising and debate intuitive. My vote will not be wasted on Romney but will at least prolong four more years of what we have now. If Obama is elected again it will become worse, no change at all is better then a crash to the pits. In the meantime I'll be a supporter of the libertarian community and we have 4 years to rise to the top for 2016 massive change.

crlnabound
crlnabound

A vote for Johnson is a vote for a third party. It doesn't matter which way you lean, the point is that both parties have abandoned majority in order to cater to extremes. Women, especially, are tired of being pandered to by way of their vaginas. Enough already. We're whole people, more than just our reproductive organs. Both Repubs and Dems pat us on the head like we're mindless little mommybots or sexbots, respectively. Hey, we work. We pay taxes. We CREATE jobs, for God's sake. Let's get down to real issues, not fake issues created by the talking heads at the 24/7 news outlets. 

Reenit
Reenit

@GovGaryJohnson Good versus Evil has NO Similarities. #GetReal !

AMHateRadio
AMHateRadio

@GovGaryJohnson I Know-But Ultimately-Higher Powers Of [Influence-Capital] Controls Washington DC-No Matter Who They [Selected] I Mean Elect

rdupuy
rdupuy

So the people in prison right now, are thinking - this sure is a disappointment, but at least it's not a disaster.

 

LOL - the closing argument makes no sense.  If Johnson polls 5% in Colorado, that sends a message that there is a political cost to lying on the campaign trail and abandoning your supporters. 

 

If there is no cost to it - you are seriously deluded if you don't think you'll be thrown under the bus next time, and every time.

BillStewart2012
BillStewart2012

 @silk_muse Gary Johnson's not the only Marijuana Candidate out there - Jill Stein and the Green Party also want to legalize it.  I've been an active Libertarian for years, and I'll be voting for Johnson.  (And I do think Obama's been a horrible disappointment, pretty much a half-assed Republican, but he'd be far better than electing a real Republican.)

mackey.liza
mackey.liza

@silk_muse I agree, it's a shame they have to resort to advertising Gary Johnson as the Marijuana Candidate. But hey, if it catches the eye of the younger generation, or even if it serves as a catalyst for voters to look further into Gary's policies, then that is better than nothing. Let's get that 5%!

BillStewart2012
BillStewart2012

 @totink Florida was the only state where it made a difference. 

- If Nader hadn't been on the ballot in Florida, Al Gore would have gotten most of the votes from people who would have preferred to vote Green. But maybe they'd have voted Libertarian instead.  And if Pat Buchanan hadn't been running, Bush would have gotten most of the people who voted for him, except the ones who were confused by the infamous butterfly ballot, many of whom were Democrats.

- If Al Gore had been a better candidate, he'd have also gotten more votes. 

- If Bush's brother hadn't been in charge of counting the votes, more of Al Gore's votes would have gotten counted. 

- If the Democrats had done a better job of poll-watching and get-out-the-vote efforts, Bush's people wouldn't have been able to scare away as many Gore voters either.

 

If Obama wanted the marijuana voters in 2012, he shouldn't have spent the last 4 years having his Justice Department attacking medical marijuana after promising not to.  He'll still get some of them anyway. And if he wanted the anti-war and civil-liberties voters in 2012, he shouldn't have had Holder defending Bush administration policies instead of prosecuting torturers, but he'll still get some of them too, because he's Not Romney.

 

The best outcome?  Obama wins anyway, but gets spanked in Colorado because of marijuana, and Gary Johnson gets enough votes to make people take the Libertarians more seriously (and to make the Libertarians take running a competent political campaign more seriously, which hasn't exactly been our strong suit.)

Beviant
Beviant

@ashleyliz6 voting for Romney or Obama is voting for more of the same. Part of the problem is that we see an evil and vote against it instead if voting how how we feel. If your a true supporter of Johnson then vote that way...otherwise you'll get more of the same as always by voting for the lesser of two evils.

BillStewart2012
BillStewart2012

 @crlnabound Yup.  I'm a Libertarian, and we've been the extreme center field party since 1972, so nobody can claim _we_ abandoned majority to cater to extremes :-)  (Though some people have claimed that by nominating Johnson we're abandoning our traditional extremism.) 

 

But marijuana's a real issue - Nixon thought it was important enough to run a War on it, Reagan escalated it, and it's been a tool for putting more people in prison and funding gang activity for decades.  It's time to stop all this crime and violence that's happening because the Republicans and Democrats both want to be politically correct about it. 

 

I wasn't expecting Obama to be able to fix the Republicans' economic disaster overnight, and while I did initially believe he'd end the crackdown on medical marijuana, I wasn't expecting him to have the guts to end the drug war.  I WAS hoping he'd do something about the prisoners in Gitmo, cut back the Iraq and Afghanistan wars much faster instead of pandering to the generals, and maybe even spend 15 minutes fixing Don't Ask Don't Tell instead of waiting for the courts to force him to do it.  Instead, he's gone and decided that the President gets to assassinate anybody he wants to with drone missiles? 

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