9-Year-Old Interviews Gary Johnson for Elementary School Class

My son's interview with a presidential candidate...

Written by Jimmy Mengel
Posted November 6, 2020

It was my son Hank's ninth birthday yesterday, so he celebrated like any boy his age would: by interviewing a two-time Presidential candidate about the current election.

This is Hank's first major election. He was far younger and had no interest in politics in 2016 (Make America Young Again!). Hank insisted that we watch the election results together and it was encouraging to see him so involved in the “score” as if it were a football game.

He was rooting for the blue team, as he remarked that Donald Trump reminded him of one of the bullies at his elementary school.

In any event, during the election he noticed a familiar face popping up on the 2016 results: Governor Gary Johnson, who ran on the Libertarian Party ticket and pulled in 4.5 million votes — the most successful third-party showing since Ross Perot in 1996.

Hank turned to me and said "Hey, you know Gary Johnson! Can I talk to him, ask him some questions, and introduce him to my elementary school class?"

I was obviously impressed that he'd had the courage to attempt his first political interview before the age of 10. I've covered Governor Johnson in the past, and spent some time with him on the campaign trail. So I figured, what the hell, and gave him a phone call that night. He sounded thrilled at the idea and immediately agreed to speak with my son on the record.

The conversation was awesome. The two of them discussed climbing Mount Everest, Gary's favorite class in school, and why in the world anyone would want to be president?

It was a special talk and Hank will certainly be getting some extra credit in Social Studies once he shares the video with his class today.

Here's Hank's interview with Governor Johnson.

Hank Mengel: Hello Governor Johnson. 

Gary Johnson: Hello Hank!

Jimmy Mengel: Governor Johnson, thanks for taking the time. I know this has been a wild election week and you've been through a couple of wild elections yourself, not only as the two-time governor of New Mexico, but as two-time presidential candidate.

How are you feeling about the election process this year?

Gary Johnson: Well, it does look like Biden is going to win. And then given so much hype, if you will, over election fraud and how this could turn south, I personally just feel really good about the whole process and the fact that every single state seems about as diligent as they can be in this whole process. 

Jimmy Mengel: Now, one quick thing, it is Guy Fawkes Day and I always "remember, remember the 5th of November" because it happens to be Hank's birthday, so this is a rare treat for him. I'll set the stage for Hank here and let him ask you some questions.

Gary Johnson: Very good, very good. Go ahead, Hank.

Hank Mengel: Well, I wanted to start out with a fun question.

Gary Johnson: These are all fun.

Hank Mengel: You've climbed the Seven Summits, what was your favorite mountain you climbed?

Gary Johnson: It had to be Everest just because it is the highest mountain in the world. It was the most time involved and to be able to be successful being able to summit on Everest in a place where a lot of people lose their lives trying to do the same thing. That was my favorite. What I really liked about all seven was that I summited all seven the first time I went to each one of these countries to do that. There was a lot of good grace involved in my being able to do that. I didn't conquer a single mountain.

Hank Mengel: What do you think the best way to start, if you were a kid going to climb a mountain?

Gary Johnson: How do you start? Well, I think that you have to be physically fit and Hank, for me, I do that all the time. I call myself fit for life. I train every single day. People ask me, well, what did you do to train for Everest? Nothing. I could climb Everest tomorrow because I'm in as good a shape as I've been in my entire life and that's the way I live every day.

Hank Mengel: That's good.

Gary Johnson: Well, that's my situation.

Hank Mengel: And my next one since I'm sharing this with my elementary school class is a school related question. What was your favorite subject in school?

Gary Johnson: Gosh, I did like school, so favorite subject probably it had to do with political science. That's what I got my degree in. Just current affairs, if you will.

Hank Mengel: Yeah, I like those.

Jimmy Mengel: Speaking of current affairs, I think Hank has one or two more questions about politics.

Hank Mengel: My next question is, why did you run for president?

Gary Johnson: Why did I want to run? I think it would be the most interesting job on the entire planet. I think it would be absolutely exciting. What about you? What do you think?

Hank Mengel: I think it would be hard because you're in control of the entire country. I don't know how you could manage that.

Gary Johnson: Right. You're right. So if you were in charge of the country, you would have the best people telling you the best information that was available. And I do a good job of listening and then ultimately making a decision because that's what it is all about. And I feel comfortable doing that because, once again, I get people's input and then I have to explain a decision after I've made it. 

Hank Mengel: My next question is about the Libertarian Party. What is the Libertarian Party? My dad has told me that it means independent or by yourself, but can you explain that in more detail?

Gary Johnson: I think that Democrats tout themselves as being socially liberal. I think that that's what Democrats really are proud of. I think that Republicans are really proud of the fact that they look after the checkbook, that they are about dollars and cents. They don't spend much money and they don't take much money from you.

I think that's what Republicans are proud of.

I think Libertarians are a combination of both. I think Libertarians are socially liberal, meaning libertarians don't care how you live your life as long as you don't do any harm to anybody else. And Libertarians are all about small government, taking as little money as possible, if any, and then when it comes to spending, not spending money because although it sounds great, it really doesn't make a difference in the end.

It just ends up costing money, and for you and I, you can add time to that. Time and money. I say Libertarian is the best of both.

Hank, I'll still be alive when you run for president, so I'll pound in some signs for you.

Hank Mengel: I'm not going to.

Gary Johnson: Don't discount it. You got a lot going for you, starting with your old man.

Hank Mengel: Thank you.

Jimmy Mengel: Thanks for taking the time, Governor Johnson. It's been a pleasure.

Gary Johnson: The pleasure is all mine. I'll see you both later.

It was heartwarming to see a politician taking the time to give a kid a civics lesson. Hank will be sharing the interview with his class today, and I'd have to assume he's earned some extra credit.

You can watch the entire interview on video right here.


Jimmy Mengel

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Jimmy is a managing editor for Outsider Club and the investment director of several personal finance advisories, The Crow's Nest, and The Adventure Capitalist For more on Jimmy, check out his editor's page.

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