With former Governor Gary Johnson mounting a serious challenge for U.S. Senate in New Mexico this year, after receiving more votes than any previous Libertarian presidential candidate in 2016, it’s fair to ask: what’s going on with the Libertarian Party? Is it a fringe movement with no chance of being taken seriously, or is it a legitimate alternative for people fed up with the partisan duopoly of Democrats versus Republicans?
To find out, Matt Kibbe sat down with two prominent members of the LP to see what their deal was. Travis Irvine is a comedian and long-time Libertarian Party organizer who founded a PAC that used colorful and hilarious double entendres to challenge John Kasich in Ohio, and is now seeking the governorship of that state himself. Watch the interview.
One thing people unfamiliar with Libertarians often wonder is whether they fall on the political left or right. They tend to get attacked from the left for supporting things like tax cuts and reduced regulations on business, while the right vilifies them as godless hippies for their support of LGBT issues and legalized drugs. In fact, the LP draws its members from both sides of the political aisle, and Travis has the interesting distinction of being both a Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders supporter. While originating as a Democrat, he became disillusioned with the Party’s lack of progress in ending foreign wars and stopping the surveillance state, and was surprised when a Republican like Ron Paul began speaking in terms he could relate to.
Travis believes the LP can offer a home for conservatives who are tired of electing Republicans who run on promises of fiscal responsibility, but fail to deliver once elected, spending and borrowing more and more every day.
Kibbe also spoke to Nicholas Sarwark, the national Chair of the Libertarian Party, who had some enlightening things to say about voting for third parties. “Your vote is not a lottery ticket,” he said. “What it is, is a statement about what you want.” Sarwark stressed that if people keep voting for things they hate just in order to stop the other team, they’re going to end up with a government they hate. The only way to effect change is to stop enabling bad behavior. Watch the interview.
Both men, who shared harrowing car rides with Kibbe before relaxing with a beer, emphasized that the government should have no opinion on the values of an individual. Conservatives should be free to be conservatives, and progressives should be free to be progressives. The problem comes when the government tries to force one set of values upon everyone else through laws and regulations rather than rational discourse and argument.
Conversations like these offer a rarely seen window into third party politics as a viable alternative to the status quo, a frank exchange of views conducted as all such exchanges should be: over alcohol.