Former governor of New Mexico and current Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is pushing hard to capitalize on the political climate of 2016, which is characterized by widespread dissatisfaction with both major American parties. On Saturday, this unconventional candidate took advantage of a unique opportunity when a group of lowriders set up outside his rally in New Mexico. The candidate got in on the action. Gary Johnson lowriding was more than a publicity stunt; it also made a point about appreciating Hispanic culture, which ties into his liberal immigration proposals.
Johnson sat in the passenger's seat of a bright green lowrider, which featured a bumper sticker with his campaign's "You In?" slogan, as it bounced several feet in the air, surrounded by cheering onlookers. When Newsday asked Johnson's communications director, Joe Hunter, if he could imagine any of the other candidates lowriding, he responded, "Lowriding is a part of the fabric of the Southwest that the other candidates really cannot understand. If Donald Trump had any appreciation for that fabric, he probably wouldn't be talking about walls and rounding up families for deportation."
Johnson supports a liberal approach to immigration, and has been critical not only of Trump in this area, but of President Barack Obama's policies as well. In an interview with NPR in May, he offered his diagnosis for the success of Trump's candidacy in relation to the Republican candidate's immigration proposals:
Well, what I have identified is that 30 percent of Republican voters believe the scourge of the earth is Mexican immigration. So he has tapped into this anger, which, you know, it's human nature. We all want to somehow justify why things aren't going right. And I think that Mexican immigration — legal, illegal — has taken that on.
He went on to decry Obama's push to deport undocumented immigrants:
President Obama has broken up 3 million families by deporting and breaking up families here in the United States. So it isn't just Democrats and Republicans. But as a [former] border state governor, I have to tell you this is a bad thing.
Johnson believes that immigration is positive for the country. During an interview with The Texas Tribune, he said that he supports a "pathway to citizenship" for immigrants who want it, and that work visas should be easier to obtain. "They’re not taking jobs that U.S. citizens want," he told The Tribune. And he doesn't think the government should set quotas on how many immigrants may enter the country, either; he thinks the availability of jobs will serve as a control on the number.
Johnson's progressive views about immigration and his appreciation for the way in which it has enriched American culture make it a little less weird to see a 63-year-old white guy lowriding. Immigration is at the forefront of political consciousness in 2016, and it's a big part of Johnson's socially progressive politics — which, combined with his fiscal conservatism, he hopes will draw voters from left, right, and center to his ticket.