opinion

COLUMN: Libertarians' chance to take the lead



Many Americans may be searching for more options on their ballots in November. With Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, both parties are presenting candidates with unprecedentedly high negative approval ratings.

According to the Wall Street Journal, one poll commissioned to find an independent, conservative challenger to Trump found that 58 percent of its respondents were dissatisfied with both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, and another 55 percent were in favor of an independent candidate.

Can the Libertarian Party be the alternative party choice that so many American voters are looking for?

At its nominating convention in Orlando this past weekend, the party nominated former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as its presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor William Weld as its nominee for vice president.

There are still several obstacles for the party to overcome to make a dent in American politics. Chief among them is getting to a main debate stage with Trump and Clinton. To qualify for the presidential debate stage, Johnson must receive at least 15 percent in five national polls selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates, according to the Atlantic.

Getting on the actual ballot might also be a challenge for the party. According to the party’s website, 32 states have ballot access for Libertarians, making it difficult to gain as many votes as possible in the race.

The Libertarian Party is one that emphasizes an odd smorgasbord of values from both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Libertarian’s follow a fiscally conservative and socially liberal approach to their policies. According to the Chicago Tribune, Johnson supports cutting domestic spending and ending government regulations as much as possible, as Johnson supported eliminating the Food and Drug Administration, the Commerce and Education departments and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

On social issues, they are generally pro-choice with regards to abortion and also support same-sex marriage and drug legalization policies, according to the Tribune.

While the party’s goal is to ultimately spread liberty on both the individual and collective scale as much as possible, a more hands-off approach toward the economy in particular could spell harm for both government and individual citizens.

According to economist and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich in his documentary film “Inequality for All,” “government sets the rules by which the market functions ... the real question is who do these rules benefit and who they hurt.”

Without government regulations, there would be no such thing as family and medical leave, or a minimum wage. The ending of child labor in the United States is also the result of government regulation in the workforce.

Without a Food and Drug Administration, for example, we wouldn’t know which food and drug products are safe for us to consume.

Government regulations are an important asset for our nation. And that’s why I’m not sure there will be much progress in the Libertarian Party in the future, regardless of how much Trump and Clinton have been disliked so far.

ttfitzpa@umail.iu.edu

@tfitzwrites 

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