How Your Brain Type Affects Your Views on Gary Johnson


Gary Johnson: the leader the Libertarian Party needs, or a sellout and a fraud? No, neither of those two options is either right or wrong. However, how you answer that question is very revealing about your brain type. Yes, I know individualism trumps all, that truth is absolute and all that fun stuff… but the reality is, your opinion on Johnson and the way he has conducted his 2016 presidential campaign is highly reflective on how you’re wired.

DISCLAIMER: Other than actual research on brain styles influencing political views down below, this is all personal opinion based on first-hand experiences. We’re all different and have our own motivations for our choices and views, so don’t get enraged if you disagree.

The libertarian brain

As much as we’d all just love to assume that we come to our political views because we’ve landed on the one true path, as it turns out, we’re largely wired for our philosophy. Studies show that a certain brain type is attracted to libertarian ideas. Such a personality is a tried and true nonconformist, caring little for allegiance social institutions like God and country, much like liberals. However, like conservatives, they tend to score low on caring about fairness in the sense of equality of result, focusing on equality of opportunity. Next, true to the stereotype, libertarians tend to be the most emotionally masculine of any political group, scoring high on systematizing and low on empathy. Yep, they’re a bunch of hard-headed, cold-hearted bastards. Comparatively speaking, that is.

Finally, and most importantly, socialization: libertarians are the most individualistic. The positive side of this is their propensity towards self-reliance and making up their own damn mind about things rather than following the herd. The downside? Not working well with others. Because libertarians tend to value altruism and relationships so little, building a community, or coalition, is much more difficult. And it’s not just that it’s harder for them, they also just really don’t care. That last bit is important to this year’s election.

The typical libertarian brain hates Gary Johnson

According to the psychological profile detailed above, your usual libertarian has an axe to grind with Gary Johnson. His stances are watered down to the point of statism. He’s boring, calm, inarticulate about the ideas, and lacks the passionate spark Ron Paul’s speaking style had. And, worst of all, he doesn’t present a clear, ideological picture of what libertarianism is supposed to be about. Libertarian anger and frustration against Johnson, in my experience, tends to revolve around a sense of betrayal for the ideology. He isn’t a fiery and academically accurate spokesperson for libertarian ideals. That’s why he’s a devil.

The atypical, or “new,” libertarian hates Johnson

Now let’s move on from libertarian weirdos to more “normal” people. Newer Johnson supporters from more mainstream political backgrounds have no problem with the way he’s presenting himself this campaign season, and a smaller contingent of the old guard also exhibits this tolerance. That’s because, while many subscribe to the exact same ideology as the hardliners, they value vastly difference attributes for a public figure. His stances on the issues aren’t a problem because they have an actual chance of being implemented while still remaining a step in the right direction. His vernacular and case-by-case approach to applying the philosophy of liberty to policy issues isn’t a sell-out, it’s selling less government in a way that people will actually buy it. He isn’t a bold orator for the sacred principles of liberty, and thank god for that! The last thing the liberty movement needs is another angry old man scowling while yelling out niche buzzwords that no one cares for. It’s about time someone came along who made us look like normal, reasonable human beings so we can grow our coalition and actually win something for once.

Gary Jonson is the anti-Ron Paul… and that’s okay

You see, the truth about Gary Johnson is that he’s the opposite of Ron Paul, and that’s actually the best thing about him. I’m a huge, lifelong fan of Dr. Paul, and I respect his committed struggle for my freedom so much that I can barely think about it without tearing up a little bit. Many of us wouldn’t be here today without his impressive life’s work. But let’s finally be honest about one thing: he was an awful politician. That was part of his appeal. He spent generations in Congress without any significant legislative victories, got completely shut out in all his failed presidential bids, and then just quit. But he inspired a movement of hardcore, passionate liberty lovers like myself to tirelessly carry on the struggle. He was a bad political leader, but a wonderful ideological messenger. And he knows that, which is why he quit politics and started a think tank. Gary Johnson, on the other hand, managed to become a popular governor in a state with a hostile legislature and still get things done. He presided over a historically high Libertarian Party presidential turnout in 2012, and is poised to fare far better this year. That’s because he’s a better politician than Paul, which is kind of the point of running for president, the highest political office in the country. Johnson is fulfilling a vastly different role than Paul, but both of them have the exact same end goal: more liberty.

Gary Johnson’s detractors are absolutely correct: he’s no Ron Paul, and he fails to excite the ideological fervor that the good doctor stirred up last election cycle. However, at his own mission, that of pushing libertarian ideas further into the mainstream while building a much broader coalition of supporters and strategic alliances, Johnson’s success rate is far higher than Paul’s. Just as the “feeling” brain shouldn’t discount Dr. Paul’s ideological achievements because they don’t personally value that contribution to the movement, the “thinking” brain shouldn’t scorn Gov. Johnson’s achievements in coalition building and “de-crazying” the movement’s reputation. We already had someone who aimed for perfect liberty and lost, now there’s a chance to go for increased liberty and win. In that sense, Paul is the perfect and Johnson is the good… and we all know about not making those two into mortal enemies.

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.
  • wolzybk

    Thumbs up on this.

    • Thanks for your comment, you were one of the people I thought of when writing it. Really interesting contrasts in style over what, on paper, is absolute agreement.

      • wolzybk

        I’m some of both. I think that the purist arguments are valuable, so that we can know what we are aiming for, and what we can stand for and what we can’t. I get into those arguments particularly with “libertarians” who want to exclude sexual minorities, or immigrants, or Muslims, or other types of people from liberty — I see that attitude as inimical to the concept of libertarianism. OTOH, it’s also true that the point has to be to actually achieve improvements in liberty, and that means having some practical effect, and not making the perfect the enemy of the good.

  • Navy Nuke

    I guess I’m not ‘Libertarian’. I don’t fit the libertarian brain description you used.

    • You don’t fit the libertarian profile, no, but then again neither do I. As it turns out, I’m much more suited for leftist thinking… yet I’m about as hardcore of a libertarian activist as they come. Which is why I feel good about Johnson.

  • Justin Keith

    There are multiple moral foundations. Not surprisingly, libertarians are strong on the liberty/oppression axis.

  • Dave Van Wyk

    Lotsa misconceptions in your article — “very revealing about your brain type” — the studies are hogwash — you need to think about why early Americans believed in liberty and few do in modern times — THAT’S the real question — GJ claims he’s 80% liberal; either that’s untrue or he’s no libertarian; he can’t be both — but that explains why you like him; what I can’t explain is why you like Ron Paul? — I am, and have always been, a lover of liberty; freedom to think and act as I see fit, and extremely tolerant in word and deed, BUT (and this is where a typical anarchist differs) I also defend our important laws: against murder, rape, theft, libel, slander, etc — silly laws based on pc things like TWoD don’t matter to me — the main problem with our group is that some of us pick the side of issues that they THINK is libertarian, no matter how it affects the liberty of others — I care about fairness, but don’t let it get in the way of good policy — no, we’re NOT wired for our philosophy, nor should you believe you have to be an atheist to be a libertarian, nor be hard-hearted, nor non-empathetic — but, yes, we believe in self-reliance — emotionally masculine? maybe — are we less likely to dive on a hand-grenade to save others? None of us knows for sure — GJ is not a devil, he’s just a typical pol — the reason I see GJ as a typical politician is he stepped on Rand Paul’s candidacy BEFORE the NH primary, EVEN THO he claimed to be libertarian — that’s pure ego — who needs another liberal in the race?

  • Dave Van Wyk

    Joel — Hillary is a sure thing; she WILL become prez — GJ doesn’t have a chance — okay, you’re a leftist thinker, but thinking, in the sense you mean it, is a private thing — a libertarian does not let that get in the way of policy — you may THINK smoking is bad (as I do), BUT you are in favor of no laws that would ban it — you still want murder, rape, theft, etc. to be against the law, or do I have that wrong? — the left wants to control every aspect of your life; extremely UN-libertarian — surely you’re NOT a leftist, unless you have blinders on.

    • I have no damn clue what you’re talking about.

      • Dave Van Wyk

        Joel — Rather than my giving you a CLUE, why don’t you say which part you don’t understand? — about Hillary and GJ? — about your “leftish thinking” and the sense in which you mean it? — about smoking, and the difference between thought and policy? — murder, etc. and your position on them? — the left wanting “to control every aspect of your life”? — my suggesting you can’t really be a leftist?