Today, I had the pleasure to interview Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico and the 2012 Libertarian candidate for president. This whole interview happened because many of our readers and members of the Latino Rebels Facebook community were interested in what Johnson had to say. In fact, they continued to ask us: will you Rebels connect with other third-party candidates and try to think beyond the two-party system? The Rebeldes heard you, and eventually we were able to secure 15 minutes with Johnson, with the help of a few individuals who are regular readers and Johnson supporters.
Given the short notice, I couldn't secure an actual TV and radio professional to help me with the interview, so in this case, I was the one asking questions. Yes, I was nervous. I don't do public interviews for a living, so I am pretty tough on myself. But after a few minutes, the nerves went away and I was a bit relieved that I followed the basic rule of interviewing someone: let the other person speak.
Anyway, in my 15 minutes with Johnson, we talked why the two-party system is not advancing our country, economic issues, immigration issues, the US-Mexican drug crisis, and how third parties are still being seen as "wasted votes."
Johnson, without question, spoke with passion and without a major campaign consultant hovering over every word that he said. For that, I found Johnson to be refreshing. I was impressed that Johnson sees how the US-Mexico drug crisis is a tragedy that has yet to merit the national attention it deserves. I also heard ideas that might seem extreme to many, but when Johnson said them, I sensed a authenticity and honesty that is rarely seen in national candidates.
When I asked him about the whole issue of why voting for him would be seen by many as a 'wasted vote," two comments really struck me:
A wasted voted is voting for someone you don't believe in. A wasted vote is voting for the lesser of two evils.
How do you change the world when you don't vote for someone you believe in? That is how you change the world.
That is what Johnson understands. If you are going to vote for someone, the ideal that you should vote for someone you believe in is still a goal that we should all strive for. Johnson (as well as all the other third party candidates in this country) are facing Goliaths called Democrats and Republicans, and those Goliaths and their followers will be quick to criticize them. But I will always admire anyone who will still try to win, even when the odds are astronomically high.
And if this interview with Johnson got one of our readers to understand that a country with two major parties doesn't truly reflect the diverse opinions of Americans, then the interview was worth it.
Our goal is to reach out to other third-party candidates in the next few weeks. Most people will think that the Rebeldes are crazy for doing this, but democracy is more than just two big political corporate parties dominating our news feeds. Democracy, in its purest and essential form, might still be attainable, if we allow for different voices to be heard.
Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77 on Twitter) founded LatinoRebels.com (part of Latino Rebels, LLC) in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He will pen a weekly column on LR each week. Recently, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS' Face the Nation, NPR, and The New York Times.