June 6, 2016


Zen and the art of trolling Trump : Mellow Libertarian Gary Johnson isn't running for president -- he's running to be America's bodhisattva in chief. (GLENN THRUSH 06/06/16, Politico)

"Well, no, I don't think [Trump] represents smaller government!" Johnson told me during a taping of POLITICO's "Off Message" podcast. "I mean, just what he's talking about when it comes to immigration, in a state that's 50 percent Hispanic, are doors not going to be knocked on in New Mexico, my door included? But when they get to my door, gee, I'm white, so -- well, but maybe we'd better check your basement or your attic to make sure that you're not harboring any illegal immigrants. ... Absolutely, it's racist. When he calls Mexicans murderers and rapists, that is incendiary."

Despite his pitch for Bernie Sanders' voters -- and his claim that he's gunning for Trump and Hillary Clinton voters with equal fervor -- it's clear which candidate harshes his mellow most. Johnson has mildly negative things to say about Clinton ("The answer to everything is just bigger government"), bon mots for Bernie ("We come to a T in the road when it comes to economics, but on the social side we're simpatico"), but it's his former party's presumptive nominee who clearly offends his live-and-let-live sensibility. And he speaks about Trump's pledge to evict 11 million undocumented immigrants -- the core of his victorious primary campaign -- with the bitterness born of serving two terms as Republican governor of New Mexico, the state with the highest proportion of Hispanic residents in the nation, at 42 percent.

Johnson's keystone position on immigration -- open borders and open arms for Mexican working families -- is a nonstarter for the vast majority of Republicans (and most Democrats, for that matter). But his response to Trump is as visceral as it is rooted in policy: He's known Latino friends on both sides of the New Mexicco-Arizona border who have been targeted by Arizona's restrictive 2010 immigration law.

"They've got a sticker on their back of their window of their car, 'I'm an American,'" he said. "They have resigned themselves to carry their papers. It's just the way it is, is what they say. That is deeply offensive to me, as an American, that an Iraqi war veteran who is Hispanic, is out for a job, and he doesn't have his papers, and he's close to the border, and somehow he's going to get rounded up."

Until recently, Johnson was an electoral curiosity -- and the Libertarian convention in Orlando last month that selected Johnson and running mate Bill Weld had a not-ready-for-Disney vibe, featuring a striptease by a candidate for party chairman who made up in girth what he lacked in eloquence. By contrast, Johnson is a serious, even studious semi-outsider in the Jerry Brown mold -- and like Brown he likes to live in the political shadowlands of fringe/not-fringe. "We're fringe, totally," he says of himself and Weld, the former moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts -- ambiguously. "We're fringe? Come on."

Posted by at June 6, 2016 1:13 PM