Gary Johnson's libertarian cred has been called into question from almost the moment he threw his hat in the ring as a GOP hopeful last year. Conventional wisdom among the dyed-in-the-wool, hardcore purists is a very short answer; no. Gary Johnson is not a dogmatic libertarian, he strays off the reservation on some issues and is not doctrinaire on others, so hence he is not a satisfactory candidate.
The latest kerfuffle in libertarian circles regarding the former New Mexico Governor is his recent interview on the Robert Wenzel Show where Johnson was at a loss to name his favorite libertarian books and authors other than Milton Friedman. Labeled by some as his "Sarah Palin Moment", Johnson admitted that he is not very well read when it comes to libertarianism or Austrian Economics, not having read Rothbard, von Mises or Hazlitt to name a few.
So Gary Johnson is not Ron Paul but does this mean that he is not a libertarian?
Of course not.
There is no true definition of what makes a libertarian other than the belief in the non-aggression principle, or as Rothbard puts it in For a New Liberty, "The libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else." Even the LP's website offers a simple explanation for what the party is about; "Our vision is for a world in which all individuals can freely exercise the natural right of sole dominion over their own lives, liberty and property by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office, and moving public policy in a libertarian direction."
If you look at it through that simple lens, Gary Johnson is a libertarian and has the record to prove it. He is fiscally responsible and socially tolerant, both tenants of libertarian philosophy; showing that he is the far superior choice out of the candidates who will be on the Presidential ballot in November.
Gary Johnson may not be perfect, but who is? The purists can hem and haw all they want but they are only "true libertarians" within their own slice to the movement. They are free to believe as they choose and provide any litmus test they like but libertarianism is a big tent and as long as the non-aggression principle remains intact, all are welcome; left, right and center.
So let's stop the circular firing squad and put our efforts into getting the best man for the job elected. Our moment is now, let's not allow it to slip away.