David C. Henley: Vote Libertarian if you want a free pony

I’ve always been intrigued by the Libertarian Party, which, according to its general principles, believes “peace, prosperity and social harmony can be achieved by as much liberty as possible and as little government as necessary.”

Founded in 1971 by disaffected Republicans, Democrats and independents, the party also upholds an intellectual tradition spanning hundreds of years that has supported human rights and history-changing legislation leading to abolition, women’s suffrage and civil rights protections for all Americans.

Despite these high ideals, however, the party has achieved little traction with voters in Nevada and across the nation.

In the 2016 general election, for example, the Libertarians received only 1.26 million votes nationwide. In Nevada that year, the Libertarians won 10,968 votes. In the 2016 election, the Libertarians did somewhat better, winning 4,489,341 votes nationwide and 37,384 in Nevada. In Churchill County that year, the Libertarians garnered 450 votes to the Republicans’ 7,828 and Democrats’ 2,210.

Meanwhile, as the Nov. 3, 2020 general election draws near, Nevada’s Libertarian Party has endorsed Robert Van Strawder to run for Northern Nevada’s Second Congressional District seat held by five-term Republican Mark Amodei as well as several state Assembly, Senate and county commission seats, according to David D. Colborne of Sparks, vice chairman of the state’s Libertarian Party.

Referring to figures released July 1 by the Nevada Secretary of State’s office, Colborne said there are currently are 19,066 Libertarians registered to vote in Nevada, which represents just .96 percent of the state’s total registered voters that number 1,886,928 including 726,914 Democrats, 599,181 Republicans and 440,684 nonpartisan voters. Although the Libertarian numbers are small, Colborne told me in a recent telephone interview that many voters who have not registered as Libertarians nevertheless uphold Libertarian principles.

Libertarians and many of those who have registered in other political parties are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, tolerant and accepting of people of other races, creeds and religions.

“They have taken firm stands against police abuse and police use of tear gas and rubber bullets. Police unions should be disbanded. We don’t let our military unionize. The police should be held accountable by the people,” Colborne said.

During the Libertarians’ recent national convention, they picked decidedly odd choices as the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates. Leading the ticket is Jo Jorgensen, 63, a senior lecturer in psychology at Clemson University in South Carolina, a grandmother, the Libertarians’ first female presidential pick and its 1996 choice for vice president. Jorgensen is a nonentity. At least 99.99 percent of Americans have never even heard of her. In the past, the Libertarians have named former U.S. governors who had switched from Republican to Libertarian to be their presidential and vice presidential candidates. Why they chose Jorgensen to head their national ticket this year is mystifying.

Even more mystifying is the Libertarians’ vice presidential candidate, a 38-year old podcaster, web designer and self-professed anarchist named Spike Cohen who, like Jo Jorgensen, is a South Carolina resident. When I reminded David Colborne, the Nevada Libertarian vice chairman, that the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits residents of the same state from running for president and vice president on the same ticket, he said, “Well, if Spike Cohen becomes the next vice president, he’s promised to move to another state to solve the problem.”

When I learned more about Cohen, I said to myself, “This guy most be a nut case, a jokester. Have the Libertarians lost their minds?” Cohen is promising that if he wins the vice presidency, he will see to it that all Americans are given a free pony if they promise to brush their teeth every day, that Waffle House restaurants will be built on every corner and, as a believer in time travel, he will go back in time to kill Baby Hitler. Almost as an afterthought, Cohen said he has written the following philosophy he will adhere to if he is elected the next U.S. vice president:

“You own yourself. Because you own yourself, you own your life and labor. Because of this, you own the product of your labor, which usually is money. It is inherently wrong for anyone to take any of these from you. If anyone calls themselves ‘the government,’ that suddenly doesn’t make it right for them to take from you. Therefore, all government is wrong and should end. I am running for VP on a platform of radical libertarianism, that is all interactions between people should be peaceful and voluntary, and that therefore there is no good reason for government to exist.”

The general election will be held in less than four months, and the Libertarians hope to be on the ballot in all 50 states, according to Dave Colborne. I hope the Libertarians will win! I’ve always wanted a free pony!

David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.


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