Former New Mexico Governor and 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson explained the relevance of libertarian values to college students at The George Washington University Monday evening.
The speech, sponsored by the Our America Initiative, was part of Johnson’s Live Free Tour to colleges across the country.
According to Johnson, his positions on certain issues make him more socially liberal than most Democrats and more fiscally conservative than most Republicans.
“Speaking with a broad-brush stroke, I am fiscally responsible [and] I am socially accepting,” Johnson said. “Now, I use the term accepting, not tolerant, because really I don’t give a crap on how you live your life, as long as your life doesn’t adversely affect mine.”
Johnson also presented his “Seven Principles of Good Government.”
“Always be honest and tell the truth,” Johnson said. “It’s extremely difficult to do any damage to somebody who’s always willing to tell the truth regardless of consequences. When you say something wrong and you’ve been proven wrong, you need to change what it is that you’re saying.”
Students from both Georgetown and GWU said they enjoyed Johnson’s conversational tone.
“You could tell he was passionate about his opinions but had supporting facts to back them up,” Kevin Carter (SFS ’16) said. “Quite simply, he seemed human.”
After the talk, Johnson sat down for a roundtable interview with student journalists from local universities to address student issues. According to Johnson, the Libertarian Party is uniquely able to respond to the youth population’s needs.
“Is there anybody out there that is providing a voice to public policy that is fiscally more conservative than the rightest of Republicans or socially more liberal than the leftest Democrat? I don’t think anyone’s out there providing that voice,” Johnson said. “I think it’s me, and I think it’s the way a majority of Americans think of themselves.”
Johnson identified the high cost of college tuition and federal student loans as a main obstacle for college students.
“From my standpoint, [the problem] is the high cost of college tuition coupled with the debt that goes along with that, and I would say that government is directly responsible for the high cost of college tuition by guaranteeing student loans,” Johnson said. “Colleges and universities are immune from normal pricing, from the free market. You have no reason to not go to college because we’re guaranteeing you a student loan.”
Johnson said that he believed the general public was unaware of issues caused by high tuition and loan costs.
“I don’t think generally people recognize that guaranteed government student loans are the reason for the high cost of college tuition,” Johnson said. “I am mortified that you’re graduating from college with a home mortgage without a home.”
Laura D’Agostino (GRD ’14), a member of Hoyas for Liberty, said that Johnson is carrying on the legacy of Ron Paul and other libertarian politicians.
“The libertarian perspective is critical, particularly during a time when liberal ideas and economic fallacies seem to have taken over,” D’Agostino said. “Gary Johnson presents a new face to politics that continues forward the great work of Ron Paul and other fighters for liberty. People need to understand that it’s not big government that will save them but rather an environment that allows people to prosper.”