2012 presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to students at Foellinger

Gary Johnson, 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate, addressed about 200 students and community members at Foellinger Auditorium, giving the Libertarian perspective on U.S. policy issues. 

Johnson, a former New Mexico governor, spoke Wednesday about how government policies, such as gun control, gay marriage, the drug war, immigration and foreign policy, will affect University students.

“You’re going to take it on the chin for everything that’s happening today. And it’s grossly unfair. And I think that you recognize it,” he said. 

He also spoke about his anger toward the two major parties.

“I think Republicans, historically, have been pretty fiscally responsible, but I don’t think they’d know a civil liberty if it bit them on the ass,” he said. “Democrats are supposed to be good on civil liberties ... they’re not so good at it. And they couldn’t balance a checkbook to save their lives.”

He said he believed that most Americans share this view and that those in office at the national level are detached from the citizens they represent.

“There’s a big disconnect too, between those that are in office, running for office, and those that are actually just citizens,” Johnson said. “(Whether you are) registered either Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian. For the most part, we’re just looking for good people with rounded ideas.”

Judge Jim Gray, Johnson’s former running mate, also spoke at the event. He focused on the issues of the federal government’s power, the drug war, U.S. intervention in international conflicts, healthcare, education and the two-party system bogging down his party.

“I deeply believed that had we been invited to participate in the three presidential debates ... then we would have probably won the election,” Gray said. “They (the two major parties) are conspiring together to keep third party voices out of these debates.”

The event was part of Johnson’s Live Free Midwest Campus Tour and was hosted by the University’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a registered student organization that focuses on advocating economic and social liberties to students on campus.

“Basically what we focus on is being advocates for personal liberties, whether they be social, in the case that we advocate for the end of the drug war, to have gay marriage legalized, things along those lines, as well as in economic areas,” said Dan Humbrecht, the RSO’s president and sophomore in Engineering. “We’re trying to find a way to make those things relevant to students.”

Humbrecht said the tour was funded by Our America Initiative, Johnson’s political advocacy group. 

“More than anything, we want to get people talking and get people interested in the ideas that we already care about,” Humbrecht said. “One of the ways that we can do that is by holding events like this, where we have a well-known Libertarian come in and try to get everybody else interested.” 

Eleanor can be reached at eablack2@dailyillini.com.