Republican GOP candidate Gary Johnson is not getting a lot of media attention and has not been allowed to participate in any of the debates, but the former two-term governor of New Mexico is not backing down yet. Johnson recently spoke to reporters about the issues, including why marijuana offenders should be pardoned and why the "Occupy Wall Street" (OWS) protesters have a good reason to be angry.
Johnson said that he visited OWS Tuesday night and found that he agreed with much of what the protesters had to day, according to a transcript of the conference call, provided by Reason.
"I wanted to see what was happening down there. It confirmed what I had thought," Johnson said. "You got a lot of people outraged over the fact that we have a country that isn't all that fair. It starts with government granting favors, if you will to well-connected groups."
He added: "And when I say 'government,' I mean politicians that grant favoritism to individuals, groups, and corporations that are well connected politically. When it comes to Wall Street, I don't know if there wasn't criminal prosecution because crimes weren't committed. The crimes were that favors were granted. Individuals and banks that made really poor decisions were not rewarded by becoming bankrupt and losing the money that they had. Instead they were bailed out. We paid the cost for that."
Johnson also said that he disagreed with the common conception of the OWS protesters as "misguided" and agreed with the protesters' complaints about corrupt politicians.
"The notion that Occupy Wall Street is misguided, well I was there last night. I don’t know that it's misguided at all," he said. "This country is not equal. We don't treat everyone equally. I would like to see us focus on the root cause, which is in my estimation politicians that are getting paid off. That's the corporatism and the outrage."
Touching on other issues, Johnson responded to the Obama administration's letter to California ordering the state to shut down its medical marijuana clinics. Reason reported that the first thing Johnson said he would do as president is issue an executive order removing marijuana from the Schedule 1 list (which contains the most highly addictive and harmful drugs).
"Because I would be controlling the federal agencies, including the DEA," Johnson said, "I would do everything I can to defang the DEA."
Johnson also said that he would issue an executive order that would pardon non-violent marijuana offenders. The former governor of New Mexico pointed out that the U.S. had pardoned nonviolent violators of the Volstead act after the repeal of prohibition, and said, "I think that same thing is called for with legalizing marijuana."
The statement marks a slightly different opinion regarding the policy for the former governor of the Land of Enchantment, who said in a 2001 interview with Reason that he would not pardon nonviolent marijuana offenders, because "I don't think it's right to take it upon myself to pardon convicted criminals based on laws that the population has supported by electing the people that they have elected."
However, with a Gallup poll showing that half of all Americans now favoring the legalization of marijuana, popular support of current drug laws seems to be changing.
"We have to celebrate this week with a poll that came out saying that 50 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana. We can say now we’re on equal footing with those who argue for the status quo," he said.
Although Johnson's views are controversial, he has not been given a lot of air time to explain them. The candidate has even complained about his lack of media exposure directly to CNN via a letter that said the cable news network’s criteria for choosing candidates to appear on debate programs favors candidates with big bankrolls.
"The idea that inclusion – or exclusion – from a critical debate in a critical state will be based entirely upon polling arithmetic, seven months before a single vote is cast, is not only absurd, but counter-intuitive to the very purpose of a debate," the Johnson campaign said in the letter.
"At this point in the process, a candidate's ranking in the polls is almost entirely a factor of name identification, news coverage by outlets such as yours, money, and/or previous exposure on the national level – including that gained from previous unsuccessful campaigns. In short, relying solely on polling numbers at this stage simply grants an enormous advantage to "establishment" candidates – and excludes a successful two-term governor whose express purpose in running is to give Americans an alternative to business as usual, and who actually has a track record to back it up," the letter said.