Will Mennie: All The Way With Gary Johnson

Much ink and many pixels have been spent trying to figure out how — or if — millennials will vote in this presidential election.

Many seem put off by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Some see no point in voting at all.

Others have hopped on the Gary Johnson bandwagon.

Will Mennie is helping drive it.

At Staples High School, the Class of 2014 member was vice president of the Philosophy Club. He also served on the School Climate Committee.

johnson-weldLast summer — after his sophomore year at the University of Arizona, where he’s a behavioral economics major — Will met the former New Mexico governor in New York.

“Neither of the 2 presidential candidates seemed viable to me,” he says. “I had been looking into a 3rd option. The more I learned, the more I liked his sense of message and his sense of responsibility.”

Will found Johnson to be “very friendly.” He looked for ways to get involved.

Last month, the Johnson campaign sent an email to UA students. Almost immediately, Will became chair of his campus chapter.

Impressed by his work, the campaign called last week and asked him to introduce Johnson at a Phoenix rally. The request came hours before what Will admits was the Libertarian Party candidate’s “2nd Aleppo moment” — his inability to name a world leader he admired — but the chapter chair was undaunted.

Which is how, last Saturday, the young Westporter found himself in a jam-packed hotel ballroom, speaking about the man he firmly believes could be the next president of the United States.

Will did his own research for his speech. He mentioned “facts people don’t know, like he was the most financially successful governor. He lowered taxes, and created thousands and thousands of jobs.”

The event drew 12,000 viewers on Facebook Live. That — and Johnson’s strong speech — convinced Will more than ever that despite two major gaffes, his candidate has a legitimate shot at winning.

“Being a campaigner on TV is very different from having the decision-making skills to be president,” Will insists.

“Those things” — Johnson’s Aleppo and world leader stumbles — “won’t sway my vote. He’s still a candidate I very much back. He’s had a lot of applicable experience — much more than Trump.

“Hillary does have experience. But something about her rubs me the wrong way. I think a lot of millennials feel that way.”

Will Mennie introduces Gary Johnson in Phoenix.

Will Mennie (center) introduces Gary Johnson in Phoenix.

I understand Gary Johnson’s appeal to a certain segment of the electorate. But I’m convinced that no matter what you think of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, one of those 2 will be our next president. I asked Will if a vote for Johnson is not really a wasted vote.

His response: “It’s an uphill battle. But I genuinely think he’s electable.

“Only 30% of Americans know him by name or by his accomplishments. If in the next 30 days we can get attention beyond him forgetting things, he has a chance. If more people knew more about him than just 2 minutes of news clips — if they knew he’s so socially understanding, but also financially responsible — that could happen.”

Campaign organizers with Gary Johnson (center) include Will Mennie (2nd from right) and University of Arizona treasurer Julian Cohen (far right). Julian is from Weston.

Campaign organizers with Gary Johnson (center) include Will Mennie (2nd from right) and University of Arizona treasurer Julian Cohen (far right). Julian is from Weston.

The Phoenix event was encouraging, Will says. On Facebook Live, “the likes and smiles flooded in.”

This is his 1st presidential vote. The Staples grad is registered in Tucson.

“Come Election Day, that’s where I’ll be,” he promises.

(Click here for Facebook’s full video of the Phoenix rally. Will’s speech begins around 21:20, and lasts 7 minutes. Johnson speaks at 34:40. Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)

27 responses to “Will Mennie: All The Way With Gary Johnson

  1. Jack Krayson

    Weld should have been at the top of the ticket. At the least, he would have generated enough ‘critical mass’ to make it to the debate stage.

  2. Weld just dropped out of the race. He does not want to be part of helping Trump’s chances of winning. Good decision.

    • Dick Lowenstein

      Not quite true, John. Here’s what Weld said on his Facebook page (not that I think supporting Johnson-Weld makes any sense except to pro-Trump people, who think it draws from Clinton support):

      In a story published in the Boston Globe, much attention was given to my grave concerns about the prospect of Donald Trump inhabiting the White House, and my determination to keep that from happening. The story did not, unfortunately, focus on my assurance that I believe Gary Johnson to be the best candidate for President, and that I would not be on the ticket with him if that were not the case. My Libertarian hat is firmly planted on my head, and will remain there.
      Gary Johnson and I are committed to offering voters a way to break up the two-party duopoly that has given us policy paralysis and divisiveness with which most Americans cannot identify. If one of the results of what we are doing is that the two so-called major parties temper their hyper-partisanship, then so be it. That would be a good thing for the country.
      Let there be no doubt. I am the Libertarian nominee for Vice-President, proudly running with Gov. Gary Johnson, and both Gary and I will be running hard and making our case right up until the polls close on November 8. Our ambition is to serve our country.

    • couldn’t agree more!! Too young to remember Nader….

  3. Mary Ruggiero

    Would love to know how he created all those jobs. An important bit of policy. Have to do some research. Do they have a state tax? How did that figure into the situation?

  4. Jens Buettner

    Being VP of the Philosophy Club is a nice thing, but this is not the lost poets society, this is real. Every vote lost to this dope head Johnson, is a risky game as he won’t have any chance to become president. Don’t the teach math at Staples? So why waisting a precious vote, do these kids know how the situation was when Nader was running for president?

    • Yes, facts are fun: statistically speaking, give or take a few percentage points and assuming average polling is correct, over 30% of undecided voters in a single swing state would have to vote for Johnson to have any substantial impact on the final outcome (in favor of either major party candidate). The “Nader factor” is a complete myth that solely relies on the biased interpretation of skewed data. A comprehensive study commissioned by UCLA on Nader’s impact in Florida can be read here: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/faculty/lewis/pdf/greenreform9.pdf

  5. Will, I rarely comment on posts related to political issues because the vast majority of people have their mind made up and, quite frankly, I don’t see what gets accomplished.

    But, in your case, I will make an exception because it does sound as if you are trying to explore different options.

    First, a little bit about me, so you can have some understanding of where I’m coming from. I’ve been a registered Democrat since I was first eligible to vote in the 1972 election. I fully appreciate youthful idealism, having done canvassing for the McGovern campaign in ’72.

    But I have not rigidly voted the Democrats’ party line. I have voted for Republicans for every level of office except for President in my lifetime–and that vote for President ties in, in part, to my views on Constitutional rights and the importance of nominations/appointments made by the President to the Supreme Court and Federal courts.

    During my career, I worked in the private sector, the public sector, and for a non-profit. I am not anti-business or anti-government–in fact, just the opposite. I am a capitalist who believes there needs to be a reasonable level of regulation for the marketplace to function efficiently and effectively. And I also believe there needs to be a bona fide social safety net in this country.

    Given that perspective, I feel this is the most important election of my lifetime for a variety of reasons.

    And, as you’ve seen, I’m far from the only one, as exemplified by the number of prominent Republicans who are refusing to support or even vote for Donald Trump, as well as the major newspapers which have historically endorsed Republican candidates for President–or, in the case of USA Today, had never endorsed a candidate for President–and are now endorsing Hillary Clinton.

    My wife and I have even made small donations to Clinton’s campaign.

    I see that you were a member of the School Climate Committee at Staples.

    So, with respect to two issues–climate change and nominations/appointments to the Supreme Court and Federal courts–I urge you to take a closer look at what you are doing and whom you are voting for; because, depending on who wins this election, there will be ramifications and repercussions for many years to come even if Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton ends up becoming only a one-term President.

    And, I ask you: which one of these two major party candidates has views on climate change and judicial appointments that most closely mirror your views?

    If you believe climate change is real and that there are concrete actions governments around the world need to be taking to help address the situation, then you must also acknowledge that the prospect of America doing nothing over the next four years–not even by Executive Orders from the President–is something that can’t be remedied by a possible change in administration four years from now.

    The many scientists who believe in the dangers of climate change also believe there is no time to waste in responding to these dangers.

    Similarly, we already know there is one all-important vacancy on the Supreme Court that needs to be filled. And, given the demographics of the Court, there may well be at least another slot that will have to be filled in the next four years.

    These next appointments to the Supreme Court will have an impact for a critical part of your adult years on a wide range of issues–such as the Voting Rights Act and gerrymandering at the state level–which go to the heart of the democratic process in this country. (And if you really want to have some understanding of gridlock in Washington and the disproportionate influence of extremist views in Congress, please read up on the impact of gerrymandering in Congressional districts and what that has led to.)

    So, why “waste” a protest vote on Gary Johnson that could lead to the election of Donald Trump? (And I’m saying this assuming that Hillary Clinton’s views on the two critical issues I’ve described above are a lot closer to yours than Trump’s views are.)

    Your rejection of Clinton because “something about her rubs me the wrong way” strikes me as a pretty shallow excuse given what is at stake in this election. You don’t have to like a candidate that much. She’s not going to be a friend of yours.

    The bottom line: there are only two candidates in this election who have a bona fide chance of winning. To think otherwise makes you that much more of a dreamer than my thinking the Knicks have an outside shot of winning the NBA title this year.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      As many noted below, it is an interesting argument and one that really shines a light on the number of Republicans that refuse to back Trump. Assuming that on balance, they would prefer a more conservative rather than more liberal court, they must hate Trump pretty badly that they would throw whatever weight they have behind Hillary, undermining what presumably is in their long term interests.

      As compelling an argument of why Will (and others) should throw their ideals under a bus and support Hillary, it is probably equally if not more compelling an argument why Republicans should hold their nose and vote Trump. Luckily, not everyone is willing to vote for a candidate they find problematic, if not abhorrent, solely for the reasons you note.

      In any event, as Tyler Paul notes, it probably doesn’t really matter, particularly since Libertarians historically tend to pull more from the “small government” wing of Republicans than “social freedom” wing of Democrats. In other words, even if Johnson polls 5% if young people vote their ideals, it is probably at most a net 1% from Hillary and may still even be a net 1% from Trump.

  6. Excellent argument, Fred.

  7. Michael Pearl

    Thank you Fred for your intelligent, thoughtful and incisive comments. Hopefully, they will have some impact on Will Mennie and those like him who are throwing away their votes and enhancing the possiblility of a catastrophic DonaldTrump presidency.

  8. Elisa Mulhern

    You can be an idealist and fight for what you believe in, but you need to be be a realist. With only two candidates in the race who stand any chance of winnining, either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be elected president. Johnson is widely viewed as a spoiler candidate whose presence could tip the election in Trump’s favor.

    • I’m no Johnson supporter but to be clear, the polling data simply doesn’t support that theory at this time.

      • Jerry MacDaid

        Yes. Johnson is no Ross Perot.

      • Nancy Hunter

        One could find a poll to support any narrative.

        • Not if it’s the national average…

          • Nancy Hunter

            Please explain why the Brexit polls were wrong.

            • Jerry MacDaid

              Nancy – I believe you may be confusing things. You stated “one could find a poll to support any narrative” which Tyler responded to “not if it is the national average”. In other words, he did not fish for a poll to fit a narrative.

              The question of accuracy of polls, and the Brexit poll in particular, is a completely different topic unrelated to your accusation of forum shopping. From reading various things at the time, the Brexit polls all indicated it was close with “remain” and “leave” bouncing back and forth with the lead. In the end, internet polls generally said leave while phone polls said remain with the margin in either case well below the number of undecideds. However, the average was, indeed, for remain. One of the factors cited for difference from final result was lack of historical data to project turnout/likely voters for a referendum.

              While the polling info cited by Tyler may also be wrong, it is probably more scientifically based than the random narratives and opinions cited to the contrary.

              • Nancy Hunter

                Why are you speaking for Tyler?

                • Jerry MacDaid

                  I’m not speaking for Tyler. I’m sure Tyler can speak for himself.

                  However, since you throw in random responses on my comments, I thought I toss in a random response to one of yours though I tried to make mine relevant and responsive rather than an inane non-sequitur.


                  • Nancy Hunter

                    I never thought my question to Tyler regarding Brexit polling was “an inane non sequitur”. Just a question.


  9. “ditto” nancy hunter

  10. As good a place as any to ask, has anyone else noticed the complete lack of yard signs for the serious Presidential candidates, in Westport?

    • Wow. I had not. But what a great observation!

    • Dick Lowenstein

      Not surprising, Chris. The Republicans assume they can’t win Connecticut and the Democrats expect to win the state, so both parties are spending their money elsewhere.