Gary Johnson is appearing on the Daily Show this Tuesday night!
I admit I am excited. It has been over a year since I first emailed the Daily Show to let them know what a great guest GJ will be. I have sent several emails since; so, I am sure, have countless others of his supporters. And it seems they finally listened!
I am also nervous. It is important that Gary does a good job. The Daily Show is key to reaching a huge portion of his largest potential support-bloc: the young.
So, Gary, here are some thoughts from a young supporter — one who has watched most of your interviews over the last year.
- Be careful about some topics. For starters, there is the fair tax. You like to mention this in every interview. However, remember that the fair-tax is a drastic overhaul of the tax system, and to the uninitated, it can come across as wonkish, gimicky, or worse, make them deeply sceptical of your motives. The Daily Show audience is not a natural one to sell the fair tax to, and it might be best to avoid mentioning it. However if you must, here is how you should phrase it: “The current tax system is inefficient, overly complex, unfair and ends up hurting the middle class and small businesses, while the rich and big corporations end up taking advantage of its many loopholes. A much better system would be to tax consumption, rather than income, via a national sales tax. However, a pure sales tax is not progressive and will hurt the poor. So I couple with a prebate so that each family unit can consume tax free at or beyond the poverty level, with the overall effect of making the FairTax progressive in application.” It is important (especially for a left-leaning audience as the Daily Show’s) to emphasize that the fair tax actually acts like a negative income tax for the poor, and thus couples as a welfare scheme for them. Another topic to be careful about is the abolition of certain departments, such as the Department of Education. This will not go down well unless you are careful about how you phrase it. Emphasize that this department has only existed since 1980, and education hasn’t improved since then. Emphasize that you think education is very important, but that the any useful public investment in schools and education is basically done by the states, and this particular federal department hinders far more than it helps.
- Know your audience. The Daily Show audience is young and left leaning. Emphasize issues like (ending) the war on drugs, upholding civil liberties, keeping the internet free of censorship or surveillance, and fighting against the military-industrial complex. Tell them that you believe in a woman’s right to choose, and that the government has no business interfering with goes inside the bedroom. Avoid talking too much about spending cuts or tax cuts. However, economic issues will come up, and your selling point is your sterling performance as governor of New Mexico. Remind the audience that the US is only a few years away from reaching Greek level of debt crisis, and your aim is to fix government, not to break it.
- Distinguish yourself. For starters, emphasize Obama’s betrayals. Obama promised to end raids of medical marijuana in states where they are legal. Instead these raids have gone up. He promised to protect whistleblowers who expose government wrongdoing. Instead, he has gone after them with a vengeance, going so far as to target journalists. He has hugely expanded the drone attacks and resorted to sophistry (a militant is defined to be any military age male in the vicinity of an area targeted by a drone) to minimize official civilian casualties. He has shown he cannot be trusted. You can. Obama did not have the guts to veto the indefinite detention act (NDAA) despite initially saying he would, but if such a law had come on your desk, you would have vetoed it. Remember that most people who watch the Daily Show voted for Obama — tell them they should vote for you because you are far better than Obama on many issues they care about. Tell them that Obama has betrayed their trust. And lastly, do not start off your interview by talking about Ron Paul — as you did in the Dan Carlin interview. (By the way, I think you did well in the Colbert Report).
- Be substantial. I thought some parts of your interview with Carlin came across as vague or unspecific. Here are some criticisms on Dan’s forum by his listeners – go through them ( http://www.dancarlin.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=32905) Be reasonable, but firm, clear and substantial. Talk of definite liberties that Obama has taken away (war on drugs, going after medical marijuana dispensaries, killing civilians abroad with drones and then killing the mourners all without due process, signing indefinite detention and renewing the Patriot act, targeting free speech as in the case of NY Times journalist Risen and ex-NSA Thomas Drake). Talk about your approval ratings in New Mexico and how you turned a debt ridden state into one with a surplus.
- Know your host. Jon Stewart is smart and he has interviewed libertarians before. Here are the 19 excellent questions he asked Andrew Napolitano (see http://texaslynn.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/john-stewarts-19-questions-for-libertarians-answered-by-a-constitutional-conservative/ look at the questions, not the answers). Think about them. A good place to start answering them would be tell Jon Stewart: “I want government to be effective , protective of our rights and respectful of our freedoms. I believe freedom is intrinsically valuable. But I am not a doctrinaire libertarian. As president, my main job will be to solve our problems and I am open to any ideas that will get us there.” Also be ready for questions that might put you on the spot (your support for private prisons (if this comes up, talk about strong safeguards to prevent abuse), your support for relaxing labor regulations that might potentially lead to child labor (tell them unambiguously that you do not intend to scrap all labor or underage work regulations, merely to improve them and cut the ones that go too far).