Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson will be one of the primary speakers on Saturday, October 26, at a rally at the foot of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to protest the expanding surveillance state.
Known as “Stop Watching Us,” the rally at the Capitol Reflecting Pool will also feature such speakers as Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, gay-rights advocate Dan Choi, NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, national security analyst and author Bruce Schneier, and social critic Naomi Wolf. A video in support of the rally features celebrities John Cusack, Phil Donahue, Daniel Ellsberg, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Oliver Stone, and Wil Wheaton.
Protesters are gathering from around the country, with buses carrying them from far-flung places like New York City, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville, Virginia.
Two nights before the rally, the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner spoke to Gary Johnson (who was also the 2012 Libertarian nominee for U.S. President) at a fundraising event for his non-profit organization, Our America Initiative.
In the course of the interview, Johnson expressed his outrage at the growth of government surveillance of American citizens and violations of privacy and constitutional protections.
“It's outrageous,” Johnson said, “that 125 billion cell phone conversations have been recorded or are authorized” to be archived for future probes.
“When you find out that a federal judge has said that it's OK for the [National Security Agency] to gather information from 113 million Verizon users,” he complained, “to me that is not the Fourth Amendment, to me that is not due process.”
Instead, it is “some sort of blanket 'government-knows-best'” policy that leads to the government “search[ing] your personal archives” and doing whatever they like with it, without constraints.
“This has got to stop,” Johnson said. “This really has to stop.”
On another topic of recent concern, the temporary shutdown of the federal government that may recur in the near future, the 2012 presidential candidate explained what he would have said to the nation under those circumstances, if he were president.
“Here is what would have been coming out of my mouth,” Johnson said:
“'Chill out, citizens of the United States. I'm the executive. We're going to pay the bills. There's revenue coming in. We're going to pay the interest on our debt. Social Security checks are going to go out. I'm going to prioritize what's important in government and get it the funding and we'll manage our way through this.'”
Johnson said that his personal philosophy – not being a social conservative while also being “arguably the most fiscally conservative governor” in U.S. history – helped him reach across the aisle and work with a Democratic legislature as a Republican governor.
“I'm going to argue that” a libertarian philosophy like that “is reflective of most Americans and in a state that's two to one Democrat, [like] New Mexico, that resonates” with voters, he said.
Advice to Robert Sarvis
He offered his own experience as advice to Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for governor of Virginia this year.
If Sarvis is elected governor, Johnson said, he “can succeed on looking at issues first and politics last.”
That was “my promise running for governor of New Mexico, and I think I've fulfilled it,” Johnson said, emphasizing the slogan, “Politics last, issues first.”
In addition to speaking at Saturday afternoon's “Stop Watching Us” rally in Washington, Johnson and Sarvis will make a joint appearance that evening at the IOTA Club, 2832 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.