This is a praise piece. If people want a funny article that analyzes an interesting topic with dark humor, go watch an episode of South Park. If people are expecting me to write about the topic in the headline and later put some edgy spin on it, it’s not happening. If people want me to go on a rant and bash other people besides the guy who the article is about, just check out one of my other articles. This article is about a question I was given about a year ago.
“Who is the person you admire the most?”
And I responded, “Gary Johnson.”
Most people who have read a couple of my articles or spoken to me know that I enjoy speaking in pauses and using words or phrases such as “Let us,” “Well,” “Hmm,” and/or “Yet, well.” I normally do that because I never enjoy speaking with dead seriousness or even giving a firm answer on anything. Every position I make, I do without fully committing, because information and views change, and the idea of ever getting passionate about that any given topic holds no interest for me. I don’t really subscribe to any philosophies, have always been an atheist, and I’ve always examined every issue and instance on a case by case level and taking in the facts before coming to an answer.
For Gary Johnson however, I didn’t require much, if any, hesitation and I didn’t require any rhetorical methods to obscure my passion. I was dead set on saying Gary Johnson was the man who I had the most admiration for. I didn’t say that as a political junkie or person who admires politicians. If you asked me who the second person I admire is, I’d probably say a business mogul such as Howard Hughes or JP Dejoria. I’d be tempted to say some inventor such as John Osher. I’m a pretty diverse person and normally hate most politicians, but Gary Johnson was my lead guy for the person I admire the most.
I recall the first time I ever heard of Gary Johnson. In late 2009 I was Googling the 2012 Republican field to get a sense for who I thought would be the best candidate. The search categorized people in rows according to the levels of interest they or someone on their teams have expressed. For this point, there were only three who’ve publicly expressed interest. The first, I believe, was Tim Pawlenty: “That went well.” The next was Newt Gingrich: “Another big winner.” The final and third person was some guy from New Mexico called Governor Gary Johnson.
I had no clue who the dude was and never saw anyone on TV mention him. He also had very tan skin, white hair and in the photo they used of him these very nerdy glasses you’d probably find on a very thin doctor in his 30s trying to look cool and disguise that he’s a total geek. I didn’t really think he’d have a chance and felt from just the image of him with the glasses alone he was just going to be an interesting guy who might enter, but probably won’t even do that. His image sort of prevented me from even looking at him.
A couple months pass and I’m on Christmas break again doing some reading online and I type in the number “2” on Google and my search history shows “2012 Republican candidates.” I decided to click again to see if any news happened since I had last looked. That guy in the corner with the glasses and tan skin was still listed as a likely candidate. I was bored and decided to click his profile. It took me 15 minutes decide this was the man I wanted to become President of the United States.
I was at this point in my life a Republican (and a really damn fiscally conservative one), but I hated the GOP’s positions on social issues. I was an atheist since the third grade who was always pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and while personally against using marijuana, I was against criminalization.
Johnson was a Republican who was saying he wanted to cut the federal government by 40%. He was extremely strong on the Second Amendment, was the biggest advocate for school choice, wanted to abolish the minimum wage and said he’d like to eliminate the corporate income tax. Yet, there he was on social issues saying the government had no right to be in people’s personal lives. He was the only Republican who I felt was strong on economics while not playing the game of “Oh, you want to audit the fed? I want to abolish it!” He was the only Republican who said abortion is a basic human right for women. He was the only one who pointed out undocumented workers in America get treated as second class citizens and it’s time for an easy pathway to residence in America. He was the guy saying it wasn’t right to call someone an “illegal,” and that we should all be happy they picked the crops everyone eats. He was the only guy who actually sounded reasonable!
I liked Gary Johnson the GOP candidate. But what about the person? Was the guy with the nerdy glasses more than just a good platform? He was a two term governor who balanced the budget eight times, cut taxes fourteen times, increased education funding 30%, built more roads over any governor in his state’s history, vetoed more bills over all other governors in America combined and took his state from ranked number one in number of state employees relative to population, to 25th. I saw a guy who can get a job done.
I did more research and my jaw dropped a bit when I realized how impressive he was. Johnson grew up the son of a public school teacher in New Mexico who was a WW2 veteran and started a one man handyman business he turned into a construction company with 1,000+ employees doing tens of millions of dollars a year in business. I see a guy who is governor of a state for eight years and the first thing he does is go “Hey, I need to climb Mount Everest!” I saw a world class badass and his name was Governor Gary Johnson.
Johnson was right on the issues. He was experienced when it came to government and business. He also had an energy and manner about him which struck me as very interesting and genuine. I wanted to help him.
At the time, I was a teenager and really just a kid on the Internet growing up in the Catskills. Besides doing blogs or whatever, there wasn’t a ton I could do. For a while, I just read more, learned more, got better at stuff and whenever the topic of 2012 came up, I said over and over, before it was cool, “Google Gary Johnson.” That was until one day, in a political group on Facebook, I met a guy saying he works for Gary’s pre-campaign. Johnson hadn’t announced yet. I asked how I could help and he told me I can volunteer for the CPAC convention in DC where they’ll have a booth. I emphatically said that I was going to go; I wanted to meet Gary.
CPAC was the first political event or convention I’d ever been to and it was sort of like the circus with just as many clowns, but not as much humor. This was a completely new and bigger world to me. In some ways it felt foreign, but in many ways it felt like home. I introduced myself at the booth and asked how I could help. The first thing that happens is Gary’s son Erik says hello to me. He recognized me from a YouTube video I did a long time ago praising Gary and said he read a blog I wrote also praising him. I was really happy to meet Erik and thought, “Wow, Erik looks like a much better version of his dad.” An hour passes and eventually I see the guy I wanted to meet, the governor himself, Gary Johnson.
He had some people hovering over him introducing themselves and getting a couple pictures taken. I was a bit nervous about saying hello to him. I wasn’t able to drive a car at this point, but was about to meet a governor. I said hello to him and spoke to him for a pretty long time. We talked about policy and how the campaign was going. He mentioned how gay rights candidate Fred Karger, despite meeting the criteria for a booth and having the funds, was denied one for pretty much no other reason from CPAC despite him running on a platform that the GOP needs to become pro-gay. Gary decided to give Fred part of his booth and let him campaign saying what CPAC did was wrong.
I watched Johnson answer questions like a champion and act very humble around those around him, not seeking to be treated as a God and just enjoying what he’s doing. He was my type of guy.
Gary doesn’t win 2012, but does pretty damn good considering where he started from. Obama was reelected, which in retrospect probably wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened seeing how Santorum was almost the GOP nominee. I attended several of Gary’s events in New York and DC. We even sat down and had lunch a couple times, which is pretty awesome.
Over the years I worked in tech startups, eventually entered into Bitcoin and made a pretty strong killing as an early investor, got involved with some crazed Wall Street commodity trades/broker dealers to go on an 18 month wild ride and eventually decided to become an inventor and filed several patents. I also in this time, sort of emulating Gary Johnson became a bicyclist and lost 40 pounds. I take up other hobbies and relocate to Manhattan after being in the mountains most of my life. Life progresses for me and I eventually hit the point I’d call myself a moderately well off guy when I was asked why I admire Gary Johnson.
“I admire Gary Johnson because he started from humble beginnings, became a success in business, became a two term governor and afterwards just goes at age 48 to climb Everest.”
Look, here is the real thing I admire about Gary Johnson: he’s flawed. He is not a perfect man. He speaks sometimes a little weird and talks semi feminine. He can come off as a bit awkward sometimes. He certainly isn’t the most handsome man I’ve ever seen. He sure as Aleppo isn’t the smartest. But I hope be as successful as him one day and would say he’s one of the most achieved men in the world due to his success in politics, business and his personal life.
Thinking about this, I realize why he’s a success and why he makes stuff happen. I didn’t know this until I began really working out. Every day, I do 200 sit ups, lift a 50 pound bar bell 750 times, bike 10-15 miles a day and keep a pretty strict low-calorie diet. When I started, it was pretty damn tough. Not eating cookies to me was kind of like a withdrawal of sorts. I was extremely weak in the bicep department and doing sit ups or lifting weights made me feel numb. Even biking up a large enough hill was a pain. Yet a really simple truth comes out of it and it’s something I’d believe Gary Johnson knows. Try every single day with one foot in front of the other and it’ll become easier every day.
I kept that process with health and I currently weigh 150 pounds and have what I’d like to say a muscular build. I kept that with work where I started in a lot of stress and find myself with two patents going to be licensed and a pile of Bitcoin I likely bought off of some crazy anarchist online for a dollar. I’ve had a lot of fun adventures and always think it’s just the most basic of starts to what I hope will happen.
I feel the shadow of Gary Johnson in me. That shadow simply reminds me to be honest, keep pushing forward and keep the eyes on target with minimal distraction. It’s why I make a daily routine to try and kickass. It’s why I’ve never had a drink of alcohol in my life or smoked marijuana. It’s why I make an effort to push hard. It’s the recognition I’m flawed, but recognizing hard, continuous work is how things happen.
For that, it’s the main reason I admire Gary Johnson. Here’s a man who is flawed, but has still archived more compared to probably 99.99% of humans to ever live. He is the only politician or presidential candidate I’ve met who doesn’t pretend to be some sort of savior or prophet. Many candidates run around saying “Pick me or the world falls apart!” or “My opponent is simply evil!”
Gary Johnson doesn’t do that. He believes in freedom and part of believing in freedom means confidence in people. He knows if he wins or loses, the people of America and the world will very likely be better off four years later. Not due to politicians, but due to innovators, artists and individuals seeking to evolve culture to the best it can become. He doesn’t require a cult, but simply believes despite a better world existing, it has problems and he can solve them. He’s not God, but he’s just a guy who wants to do a job and believes he can do it better.
The next question I was asked when I said who I admired and why it was him.
“What does he do now?”
My response: “He still kicks ass!”
He kicks ass as the guy saying non-violent drug offenders should be free from jail. He kicks ass as the guy who says undocumented workers need respect and not be viewed as second class citizens we can put into McDonalds’ or maids’ uniforms. He kicks ass as the guy who advocates for less regulations on businesses and trade. He kicks ass as the guy saying let’s cut spending a third. He kicks ass as the guy saying let’s end corporate and personal income taxes. He kicks ass as the guy willing to compromise on an issue to get the job done, but never compromise in a way that has negative tradeoffs. He kicks ass as the guy supporting Black Lives Matter and saying it has a valuable point in existing. He kicks ass as the guy saying to not just have a war for every generation to say they grew up in. He kicks ass as the guy who can admit he’s wrong.
He’s Governor Gary Johnson, he’s who I admire, who I voted for in 2012, who I’ll vote for in 2016 and the person who without hesitation I’d most want to see enter the Oval Office in 2017!
This post was written by Charles Peralo.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.