The Last Temptation of Johnson


By Gary Johnson

I’ve never believed in the Bible, God or the government, but I’ve always believed in people.

When I was a boy, I wasn’t the biggest kid on the block, nor was I the smartest. I wasn’t the tallest, the fattest, the shortest, the thinnest the ugliest or the best looking. There was nothing particularly special about me. At the time it bothered me, like it would any child, to be someone so painfully… regular. Everybody wants to be something, even if that something isn’t considered a positive. The fattest child has something to overcome, the tallest something to prove, the smartest… well, you get where this is going. I had nothing. I was just another regular white kid in another regular white neighborhood without a thing to make me stand out.

One day I came home from school in tears, not because anything happened to me but because nothing ever did. Nobody even noticed little Gary Johnson and who could blame them? I was shy, I kept to myself and I didn’t hate school nor did I love it. I was just existing, quietly sitting in the corner hoping not to be noticed but deep down somewhere wanting it more than anything. On my walk from the bus to our front porch one day I burst into tears for no apparent reason and my mother was standing there, waiting for me, in a way that she never had before and never did again. Like she knew I needed her, somehow. She tried to calm me down the way most parents do; by telling me it was all just temporary and making empty promises of a future greatness I could someday achieve, if I really wanted it.

She told me that no matter how insignificant I felt today that this was America, this was a place where anyone, as long as they were born in this country, could climb to the highest office of the land. That no matter how worthless I felt, I could apply myself and be someone important. It didn’t matter if I wasn’t the smartest or the prettiest as long as I wanted something badly enough and kept working at it, I could have just about anything I wanted. Then she said that beautiful sentence that most parents say but so few of them actually mean, “You could even be the President someday!”

This stuck with me, as it does many children. “Me? The President? He’s so old and smart, though!” I said to her. She said, “He’s not as old or as smart as you think. You could be that old and smart someday, easy.” This was before I knew that Santa, God and my father coming home from buying cigarettes were lies, so I saw no reason not to believe her. From that day forward I tried to learn everything I could about being the President. I read a book, watched movies and even watched other, different movies. Some based on the book I’d read. I learned everything I could about the process of becoming President but eventually something hit me and I ran all the way from school to my mother’s office to ask her about it. I still remember bursting in during the middle of a wrestling meeting she was having with her secretary and asking in a panicked voice, “Can I still be the President if I don’t whore myself out to the two party system!?” She laughed as her secretary put his wrestling wand back into his wrestling underpants and said, “Oh, sweetie, that’s just unrealistic.”

I was crestfallen to say the least. I wanted to be the President so bad, but was I willing to become something I wasn’t to do it? I didn’t think I had it in me. What point was there for Gary Johnson to be the President if he had to give up everything that made him Gary Johnson? I’d be the President, sure, but I wouldn’t be me. I wanted to be Gary Johnson: President of the United States of America, not a hollow husk of a man in a President suit.

So I gave up on my dreams of becoming the President and focused on a second passion I found in High School; making money. I started working as a handiman and after finding that I actually detested working, turned it into a business where I could make other people work. I called the company Big J and before I knew it I was selling it for $38 million. A newly made millionaire, I turned back to my first passion of entering into politics. Knowing my limitations, I opted not to pursue the Presidency immediately, instead running for Governor of New Mexico with $500,000 of my own money. Many thought this was a bad move, but as a man who went from being a handiman to a multi-millionaire, I had some capital to burn.

When I got the gig I couldn’t believe it, I really didn’t think it possible. While in office I tried to prevent government intervention when I kept the private sector just that; private. Some would say I did some harm, but those people aren’t me or friends of mine, so fuck them. My friends all think I’m great and that’s more than enough for me. By the end of my second term I was getting tired of getting up so damn early every day, so I declined a third, in 2012 ran as the Republican Presidential candidate and afterwards finally had the strength to leave the party behind, becoming the Libertarian I was always born to be.

That’s right; during this stint as Governor and kind-of sort-of running for President, I was actually a registered Republican, all but abandoning my childhood ideals. The thing is; children are stupid. They don’t realize that to get what you want you’re going to have to change who you are in small, subtle ways, maybe even only outwardly, but you’re still you. Yes, I was running on the Republican ticket, but I was still Gary Johnson. It said so right on the little plague they gave me for my desk. I stood by all the ideals I always had of keeping the government from over-regulating, or even regulating at all when I could help it, and I still believed in people like myself getting to keep as much money as we possibly could, a position I discovered I believed strongly in when at the age of 9 my brother dropped his ice cream cone and my mother made me give him half of mine. I didn’t believe that his carelessness should be rewarded nor my ability to keep a damn cone in my hands rewarded then, and I don’t believe in it now.

I know what you’re saying, that some people aren’t born healthy or able, either in mind or body, and that it’s not their fault. I hear you, loud and clear. I’m not that simple. I believe in helping the less fortunate, I do, I just don’t believe it should be handled by a third party. If I want to help someone, I think I should get to decide when and where. In theory, but I know that it’s just a theory.

In reality we all know where most powerful people stand on how to treat the less powerful. I know that the country I envision is a very distant thing that’s not going to happen overnight, but I believe in us. I believe in our compassion. I believe that just because there are a few hundred thousand bad apples that we don’t necessarily need to coddle the whole bunch. I believe in a future where we look not to the government or religion to tell us when it is and isn’t time to be good people and just be good and I believe that the only way we will see that future is to try. To take off the training wheels and see how many people can ride without killing anyone or themselves. I believe in this country and the ability of most people to do good, no matter how much proof I’ve seen otherwise.

I believe in you.

No matter how often you prove me wrong.