By Brandon Martin
Virginians will have a third candidate for president on their ballots this upcoming election, as Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen and running mate Jeremy “Spike” Cohen were officially added to the race on Aug. 31.
In response, the group Martinsville Libertarians held a sign wave on Commonwealth Boulevard to commemorate the occasion and raise awareness for voters.
“I think the two parties themselves have caused a move toward more parties,” Eric Bowling, a member of the group, said. “The gridlock and back and forth is getting old. People want change.”
By adding another option on the ballot, Bowling said he can take pride in his vote.
“I feel sorry for those who feel they have to settle for a ‘lesser of two evils,’” he said. “I promise once you fill that box in once, it’s easier. You’ll have the best night’s sleep ever on election night if you don’t vote with a ‘lesser of two evils’ mentality.”
To bring about the change he would like to see, Bowling’s group Martinsville Libertarians spends their time raising awareness of policies and issues, running candidates for office, providing community support, and serving as activists for the party’s guiding principles.
“The guiding principles surrounding Libertarianism revolve around the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). It’s similar to ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you,”” Bowling said. “Basically, if your individual actions or even the government’s actions violates another’s constitutional rights, you have violated the NAP. Every member of the national party confirms they agree with” a statement that says “‘I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.’”
Given the aversion of force, Bowling said that he is a believer in localizing more power to smaller governments to decide how government functions and services are carried out.
Essentially, he believes in “more freedom coupled with more individual responsibility.”
Martinsville Libertarians focus on the City of Martinsville and Henry and Patrick counties, according to Bowling.
He said the group was founded in September 2016. The group, which Bowling said averages 6-12 people, meets once a month to discuss current events, issues, candidates, and potential ways to engage and support our community.
“I would add that all voters in Martinsville city as well as many in Henry County have had a Libertarian on their ballot every year since 2016,” Bowling said. “I look for that trend to continue locally in 2021. Stay tuned.”
Bowling said that the 2016 election really motivated him to get involved.
“I disliked the options the two traditional parties presented so much that I said there has got to be a better way. It’s obvious by the gridlock in Congress and the ‘us versus them” attitude of the two old parties that we need to try something different. Our country is getting divided more and more every day.”
Since the Democrat and Republican parties have held a stronghold on politics for so long, Bowling said that he doubts this year will be the one for his nominee.
“In terms of the overall results of the election, I don’t think she’ll sway it one way or the other,” he said. “It’s been my experience (that) Libertarians pull pretty evenly from those who align with the two traditional parties. They also pull in people who don’t usually vote.”
Just because Jorgensen may not win, doesn’t mean that her candidacy won’t shake things up, according to Bowling, who said that with five percent of the vote that Jorgensen could secure “a portion of the funding pie” which allows the party to run more candidates in the future.
He said if she garners 10 percent in Virginia, then the party will have ballot access for another election cycle.
While he thinks his candidate has the right idea, Bowling doesn’t think that the people are hearing enough about Jorgensen. He said national media outlets have been putting “a blackout” on her campaign.
“Even with that wall, she has been polling at or better than Gary Johnson did in 2016. That’s impressive, considering his vote total was more than all the previous Libertarian Party presidential candidates since 1972 combined. He did that with town halls on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Thus far she (Jorgensen) hasn’t had any. One large media appearance could impact her race dramatically and put her in the national debates.”
With more coverage, Bowling thinks that Jorgensen and the Libertarians, at large, could pick off voters with their platform.
Bowling said that the party’s stance on “fiscal responsibility” would be appealing to Republicans.
“It’s amazing to me that the national debt has increased almost more in one term under President (Donald) Trump than two terms of any other president,” Bowling said. He added that the Libertarian stance on the 2nd Amendment would also be shared with Republican voters.
For Democrats, Bowling said that Libertarian beliefs on civil liberties would be appealing.
He said the Libertarian Party “has supported the right of consenting adults to marry whoever they want pretty much from day one. Women’s rights are also important. The first woman to ever receive an electoral vote was actually a Libertarian.”
Bowling said that with a Libertarian, the coronavirus would have been handled differently.
“I think first and foremost a Libertarian would have issued an emergency order to lower FDA (Federal Drug Administration) requirements on approvals for testing supplies,” Bowling said. “We had American companies shipping testing supplies to other countries that weren’t approved to be used here. The quicker those who are positive are aware, the more spread could be prevented.”
He also said that communication would have been lifesaving.
“Transparency is a very important thing. It has come to light that President Trump had lots of information about the virus that wasn’t shared with the American people early on,” Bowling said. “It is important to keep trust and allow Americans and businesses to make the best decisions based on all the information.”
While a huge proponent of less government spending, Bowling said that he also thinks changes can be made to the tax code.
“I would be open to lowering the income tax and moving to a consumption tax. I don’t think we should tax our way out of debt,” Bowling said. “Ideally we should try to move toward a balanced budget and then slowly work on paying down debt in increments. The federal government could sell federal lands to the states.”