The sight of former president Bill Clinton wiping away tears of joy while standing silently behind his wife as she was making her victory speech in the 2000 Senate elections in New York may appear a little melodramatic for some. However, when one considers the sacrifices and extreme loyalty that Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton has shown to her husband over the previous 26 years, that gesture suddenly makes all the sense in world.
Secretary Clinton’s ascension to Senator, and thereafter, Secretary of State, is not something all that surprising for those that knew her, considering what a gifted child, student and political operative Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton was.
Born in Cook County and raised in suburban Park Ridge just outside of Chicago, Secretary Clinton grew up in a loving middle class family. Her early years were shaped by her Goldwater-Republican Navy veteran and business owner father and his tremendous work ethic, balanced against her mother’s Democratic leanings and harsh childhood.
At an age where young girls and boys were still too preoccupied with watching cartoons on TV, young Hillary was already busy demonstrating her leadership abilities and initiative with backyard carnivals and cookie and food drives for charity. When others her age were engrossed with the challenges of school and growing up, young Hillary was busy with the post-election canvassing of Chicago’s south side for the Republican Party. When children tread lightly around their parents and elders, she was engaged in delightfully spirited political debates with her family during dinner.
Her star continues to shine brightly at Wellesley, where her commencement address drew a seven-minute long standing ovation, and at Yale, where she was paid to intern at Washington every summer. She was already an experienced Democratic aide before even graduating from Yale, and was headhunted to be part of the Watergate impeachment inquiry team counseling House Democrats months after finishing college.
She was never a radical, beatnik or hippie, but neither was she a middle-of-the-road moderate. She is, above all, an idealist – an intelligent, disciplined, driven and practical idealist. Despite her image of a strong and uncompromising woman, people who she’s worked with reveal her to be a polite, considerate, consultative, and perhaps most surprisingly, religious individual. The latter perhaps is due to the influence of her mother and grandmother, both strong-willed Methodist women. She is also an exceptional public speaker, and can speak for an extended period of time without notes – done without pauses and filler syllables.
Over the years, many negative epithets have been used by the press and political opponents to describe her. As many have learned however, pigeonholing or underestimating Secretary Clinton often comes at a great cost.
The key to defeating Secretary Clinton lies in winning over her core support base - women, baby boomers and minorities. Meanwhile, her weakest demographic is the millennials, and this is clearly reflected in her underwhelming support online. And yet, one gets the impression that her opponents simply do not get this very simple equation. Will this prove costly in the end?
In politics, compromises are frequently seen as a sign of selflessness which places the greater good of the country ahead of principled, yet divisive stances. Some would even venture to suggest that partisanships are shortsighted and the surest way to hinder progress, and represents the greatest challenge to national unity.
And yet, between 1995 and 2003, during his tenure as governor of New Mexico, Gary Earl Johnson vetoed almost 800 bills (including line items) sent by the state legislature which led to arguably the state’s worst ever legislative gridlock. But his principled stand also massively reduced government spending, decelerated spending growth and wiped off the state’s budget deficit. By the end of his term, the treasury even reported a $1 billion surplus – all achieved without raising any taxes!
The son of a public school teacher and a government servant has always been viewed as too principled for politics. But as he had demonstrated during his two terms as governor, his methods work. Not all the time mind, as evidenced by his failed school voucher proposal and calls to decriminalize marijuana and reform drug laws, but the results speak for themselves.
However, while Gov. Johnson has intimated to friends of his desire to run for office from a very young age, he was very practical about the path he would take. While studying at the University of New Mexico, Gov. Johnson started a handyman business as means to achieve financial independence. After graduating with a degree in political science in 1975, his company, Big J Enterprises, expanded into remodeling and renovation, and eventually, construction.
His company grew rapidly and quickly, but managing it proved to be increasingly more difficult for the hands-on business owner. Ever the problem solver, Gov. Johnson took night classes on time management in 1987 to better equip himself to handle the challenges of managing a multimillion dollar company. It proved to be a catalyst for Gov. Johnson, and forced him to reassess his life, both professionally and personally. He became more goal-oriented, leading to some calling him the most disciplined individual they've ever known.
This probably explains why after being rebuked by the state Republican leadership in 1993, the young upstart still went on to contest the GOP primaries the following year; or his decision to leave the Republican Party in 2011 to seek a presidential nomination under the Libertarian Party ticket; or why he is so confident that a third party candidate (himself) will finally achieve the 15% national polling threshold in 2016 and qualify for the presidential debates for the first time since 1992.
Gov. Johnson is an ardent believer of liberty, individual rights and small government. He is against military intervention and high taxation. He is convinced that existing drug laws and policies are doomed to failure. Gov. Johnson is also a strong proponent of personal responsibility. He believes that anyone in the country can make their own fortune with hard work. In a 2000 interview, Gov. Johnson stated that “anybody that wants to be an entrepreneur in this country can make an absolute fortune. Even somebody who cleans houses… If I started a business tomorrow just cleaning houses by myself […] I think I could make $100,000 a year. You clean four houses at $100 a day. I know what these people do when they come in and clean. In three hours I could do what they do. I just don't buy into the notion that anybody can't still make it today if they are willing to work hard.”
One thing is for certain though. If Gary Johnson were to somehow be elected president, the triathlete will be the fittest president in American history.
CNN Libertarian Presidential Town Hall
June 22, 2016