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Libertarians Hope To Grow in 2016

pbs.org

Delegates to the national Libertarian Party met in Orlando last month to nominate the presidential ticket and set their platform.

Gary Johnson – a former Republican governor of New Mexico – is making his second bid for the White House as a Libertarian. In a campaign video shown at the convention, he espouses the bedrock of the movement.

“I think that people need to be able to make their own choices in their own lives,” said Johnson in the video. “The rewards will be a hundred-fold. You will never regret it.”

Johnson also expanded on the party’s slogan, “Make America Sane Again” -- a shot at presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump – along with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Government is for sale; crony capitalism is alive and well,” Johnson said. “I’ve heard from many that they didn’t want to waste their vote. Wasting your vote is voting for somebody you don’t believe in.”

The roots of libertarianism – and the party – can be traced back to the early 1970s in Colorado according to Michelle Williams, who heads the Political Science Department at the University of West Florida.

“It was a time of prosperity in terms of [the] economic change that was going on,” said Williams. “There was a lot of political change as well, coming out of the late 60s with the Civil Rights Movement and Voting Rights Act. It was a time when new political ideas were emerging.”

Historically, Williams says the goal of a third party competing against the GOP and the Democrats has been to find a niche for themselves by borrowing elements from both.

“When you think about a libertarian party, or this Libertarian Party, it stands for “Peace,” with tends to be more leftist,” Williams said. “It stands for free trade, and an economic direction that tends to be more rightist.”

Williams says Libertarians are hoping that a presidential campaign between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump could open the Libertarian door for voters not wishing to support either.

One of the main missions of any political campaign is to lure undecided and independent voters. If Libertarians can make some in-roads in 2016, they also could find themselves as a major player in competing to bring them off the fence – and into their column.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.