Following in the footsteps of businessmen and political neophytes like Ross Perot and a certain real estate mogul and reality-TV star currently occupying the White House, Mike Gozian generated headlines in 2008 by attempting to get on the presidential ticket of the Libertarian Party. Although his campaign failed, Gozian has continued to cut a swath across the independent party landscape. From 2008 to 2010, for example, the Portland, OR-based serial entrepreneur and CEO of several successful companies — among them a marketing and sales promotion outfit called AngelVision Technologies (better known as AngelCore) — served as vice chairman of the Libertarian Party. Gozian, whose name at birth was Michael Paul Jingozian, also founded Reset America, a movement that offers Americans “A Simple Plan to Take Back Government” and warns us that “Incremental Change is No Longer a Viable Option” for fixing our broken two-party system.
Mike is also my old college pal.
Recently, I caught up with Mike, who holds a BS in economics from NYU and an MBA from Bentley University, to discuss his interest in politics — which, he says, may include a future run for the Senate. I wanted to ask about his unwavering belief in adding a third major party to our system. He answered my pressing question about traffic lights — something many Libertarians do not believe in. (He does believe in them, but he also believes there are too many of them.) And he mentioned his faith in ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference — a system only Maine has right now.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
Iris Dorbian: What prompted a business person like yourself to go into politics? What was the catalyst?
Mike Gozian: I’m doing it for my children and the next generation of kids. Competition is good for the environment, but politicians don’t want it. They don’t allow third parties to compete.
ID: But something must have motivated you specifically to try and get on the Libertarian Party presidential ticket back in 2008.
MG: A lot of people tried to talk me into it. That’s the funny thing. As soon as you do try, they say, “What, are you crazy? Running for President?” I was making a million dollars a year at the time. I tried to get on the Libertarian Party line for the ballot access: one of the biggest issues facing our country is you have to run as a Democrat or Republican. You have to bring in all this money and these special interests. Do you need further proof the system is broken with the two worst, most hated people — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — being nominated?
ID: When did you join the Libertarian Party?
MG: I’ve been a member of the Libertarian Party since college. I also became a member of the Green Party in 2000. I wasn’t involved with the Libertarian Party before my run for President.
ID: Let’s talk about Reset America and what motivated you to create it.
MG: The whole system is so corrupt and broken — it needs to be reset. The only thing that is preventing that from happening is that other people don’t think it will be supported. The two-party paradigm is wrong. I’m looking at things from a big-picture point of view: Amazon wasn’t started by Sears and Roebuck; the iPhone wasn’t created by AT&T. The change we need is not going to come from the Democrats and Republicans. It has to come from outside the system.
ID: How do you answer critics who feel that advocating for a three-party system is foolhardy, as third parties have no history of working in this country?
MG: If you’re voting for a Democrat or Republican, that’s beyond wasted: you’re voting for a corrupt system. You’re better off not voting. Are people afraid of this change? No. People are willing to throw out the system — they just don’t think everyone else is.
ID: But many people do feel that third-party candidates are spoilers in elections. Don’t they take votes from Republicans or Democrats who might otherwise have a real shot of winning?
MG: You can’t discount that. A lot of third-party purists say it doesn’t matter. The reality is that’s the reality: I wouldn’t want that to happen. Until we have ranked-choice voting, the system won’t work. If you’re in a swing state, then vote what you want. If you’re in a state where your vote wouldn’t count (like Oregon, where it always goes Democrat), then you vote third party because that vote means something — that’s a protest vote. There needs to be competition. The whole system is rigged so third parties don’t have a chance. I do agree with the argument about third parties being spoilers — we don’t want to see more Republicans in office.
ID: What about the common complaint that Libertarianism is unrealistic, that it’s a pie-in-the-sky ideology with no basis in practicality?
MG: I really don’t consider myself a purist Libertarian. With every party, there’s a range of people within that party; with Libertarians, it’s even greater. It’s a misfit party. You believe what you want to believe as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of other people. We’re all going to be Libertarian when the government collapses — and it will. We can’t afford the [national] debt — it’s ridiculous. There’s going to be a breakdown in government. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.