9 Reasons Millennials Love Gary Johnson
Decoding the ditzy appeal of the 63-year-old New Mexican
As the election morphs from being this thing that people have spent way too much time talking about into this thing looming less than six weeks away, Hillary Clinton’s apparatus for turning out the vote is kicking into high gear, and her campaign is beginning to fret even more over a question that’s dogged them all this campaign season and longer: What’s up with the youth?
A recent Bloomberg Politics poll confirms that Clinton leads Trump by 10 percent among millennial voters (those aged 18 to 35). But when Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are factored into the race, Clinton loses 20 percent of her support among young people. Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who sucks at geography, is far more popular among the youngs than Stein, the Masshole MD: In Ohio, more than one-fifth of millennials are with him, according to Bloomberg. Two weeks ago, a New York Times/ CBS News poll found that more than a quarter of millennials nationwide wanted to see a President Johnson in the White House.
This is, of course, deeply troubling for the Democrats, who depended on young voters to elect Barack Obama and who felt the sting of third-party voters in 2000, when Ralph Nader supporters helped turn over the electoral college to George W. Bush. “Ralph who?” said a 26-year-old who probably regrets talking to The New York Times, after the paper asked him if he worried about the same thing happening this election season. “I was too young to remember.”
Of course, it’s not impossible to understand why young people might want to back away from Clinton and Trump, who are perceived as corrupt, out of touch and part of the corporate machine. Still, what’s hard to grasp is my fellow millennials’ rather enthusiastic support for Johnson, who’s no Trump when it comes to idiocy, but may just help Trump get elected.
The following are nine speculative theories as to why some of our youthful hearts beat for Johnson.
He wants you to get high.
Johnson not only wants to decriminalize weed, he wants to make money off of it: In 2014, he became CEO of a medical marijuana industry business based in Nevada. He says the right things about other drugs, too, like that drug abuse should be treated as a health problem, not a crime.
Before he was in politics, he was basically a Task Rabbit.
Johnson made money as a college student in the 1970s as a “door-to-door handyman,” so he totally gets the gig economy in which oh-so-many of our millennial brethren toil. Y0u know if Postmates and Uber had existed, he would’ve done those too.
He’s also kind of a tech bro.
Johnson’s handyman business took off after Intel contracted with him for repairs at their Albuquerque-area campus. Soon the door-to-door-handyman-who-could was bringing in eight digits in revenue and employing about 1,000 people.
He’s into mountains.
Recently Johnson bragged to Wired that he’s a “‘fit for life’ athlete” (whatever that means) and he’s climbed not just Mount Everest (as is commonly known, thanks to his Wikipedia page) but also the tallest peak on all seven continents. He also talks about his plans to go on a 3,000-mile bike ride at some unspecified point in the future. Zamn, zaddy.
He’s so young, he’s practically one of us.
This election is all about old people. While the average U.S. president assumes office in his mid-50s, this year we’ve got Trump at 70, Clinton at 68 and Stein at 66. A spring chicken at 63 years old, Johnson is basically a millennial himself.
He has minimal professionalism, just like us.
Millennials want jobs, but we don’t want to behave according to the traditional decorum of said jobs, doing things like not texting when our co-workers are speaking to us. Gary Johnson doesn’t like to be professional, either.
For example, there has long been an unwritten rule that politicians shouldn’t use words like “pussy” in political debates. Does Johnson give a fuck about that rule? No, he does not. After calling Trump a pussy at a Libertarian debate, he’s emerged as an important advocate for useage of the word. “It was kind of a misfire on my part when I called him a pussy. But the point was was that, you know what? … Trump’s a pussy.”
He’s not into tough questions, just like us.
Many people hadn’t even heard of Johnson until a few weeks ago when MSNBC asked him one of the hardest questions any presidential candidate will face this election cycle: What are you going to do about Syria? Except the interviewer employed the shady Greek tactic of synecdoche, referring to Syria by the name of its largest city, Aleppo. “What is Aleppo?” Johnson wondered, as millennials rushed out the door to register as Libertarians.
He’s pioneering the self-drag, and we know how brave that is.
Johnson may have climbed mountains on every continent, but he doesn’t know the names of anyone calling the political shots on those continents. After Chris Matthews stumped him by asking him to say the name of someone who is currently president of a country, Johnson had an incredible response: He called out his own idiocy as an “Aleppo moment.” This is very relatable for millennials, who fear nothing more than a public call-out; therefore, we have no choice but to respect someone courageous enough to drag themselves.
We know our votes don’t really matter, anyway.
For people living in solidly red or blue states, it kind of feels like your vote is worthless so maybe voting for a third-party candidate is a fun thing to do, cuz why not? You’ve got nothing to lose voting for someone who’s sure to lose.
Interestingly, many states with the largest percentages of millennials are not swing states, according to census data mapped by Governing magazine. They include red states like Utah (the youngest state, demographically speaking), Alaska, North Dakota, and Texas and blue states like California and Washington, D.C., which has the largest percentage of young people (and is not technically a state). Crucial swing states like New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, on the other hand, are teeming with olds. Gross.
Zak Stone is MEL’s executive editor. He’s heard about Aleppo.