In solid red or blue states, one vote is unlikely to change the outcome. Instead, Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen suggests using that vote to support third parties and, as a result, more choice in elections.
Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen challenged the notion that a third-party vote is a “wasted vote,” instead suggesting in an exclusive interview on The Political Trade podcast that it sends a powerful message: Get your act together or we’re going to go elsewhere.
Jorgensen, who also ran as the Libertarian vice presidential nominee alongside Harry Browne in 1996, said Republicans and Democrats both have reasons to feel dissatisfied with their 2020 presidential nominees.
“If you like the fact that [President Donald Trump’s] got a deficit that’s going up faster than Obama’s, if you like the fact that he’s given us the biggest debt ever, if you like the fact that he’s not balancing the budget, sure, go ahead and vote for him,” she said.
Of Joe Biden, she said, “If your [first] choice was Joe Biden, and you like the crime bill and the fact that he’s a war hawk, go ahead and vote for him. But if you want to send a message to the Democratic Party establishment, ‘Hey, we want to pick our own candidate,’ then vote for me.”
As of Oct. 22, Jorgensen’s RealClearPolitics polling average stands at 2.5%. The 2016 Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld set a record-high turnout for the party, at just under 4.5 million votes, or 3.3%.
Additional topics covered during Jorgensen’s appearance on The Political Trade include whether or not social desirability bias affects Libertarian polling numbers, the legalization of drugs, federal pardons for people convicted of victimless crimes and healthcare reform.
Jorgensen’s exclusive interview can be heard in full here.
Below are edited excerpts from Jo Jorgensen’s appearance on The Political Trade.
Jeff Joseph (Host of The Political Trade)
Is there a shy Libertarian voter, and have you been able to quantify or substantiate that to any degree?
You know, that’s a good question. I hadn’t thought about that. Many Libertarians are actually very proud and forceful. In fact, the problem we used to have is when people hadn’t heard of us. So, back in the ’80s. I’ve heard people say they were polled, you know, somebody called them, “Are you voting for Reagan or Mondale,” or whoever. And they’ll say, “Well, I’m voting for Ed Clark,” or “I’m voting for the Libertarian.” And the pollster would say, “Oh, OK, I’ll mark you down as undecided.” They’d say, “No, no, no, I’m very decided. I’m voting for Ed Clark.” It did not compute. So, at least now people have heard of the Libertarian Party and understand what it stands for. There may be some people out there who are hesitant, however, but I would say, you know, the biggest problem is that there are people who would agree with us if they just knew about the party or looked into it. I’ve seen some estimates that 40 million people are Libertarian leaning—they think that we should be able to live and let live—yet, either they’re not getting the news about us or they’re getting misinformation about us or something like that.
Well, let’s talk about ranked-choice voting. Are you in favor of it?
Oh, absolutely. Because then people can vote for what they want instead of out of fear.
In ranked-choice voting, essentially, the concept is that it eliminates the spoiler effect, right? Where votes for third-party candidates are taking votes away from one of the two other candidates, or it eliminates what’s considered a “wasted vote.” And I’ve always found that to be a controversial idea, the wasted vote. So, the notion of a wasted vote, that’s been tagging the Libertarian Party for a long time, and I speak from experience. In my own state of Illinois, where I’ve lived and voted for over 30 years, you know, six presidential elections, I’ve voted third party more than I’ve voted Democratic or Republican. I’ve always tried to understand why there are not more third-party votes in dark red or dark blue states. I can make the case for why, if you are in a dark red or a dark blue state, you are essentially wasting your vote if you’re voting for one of the two main party candidates, because the outcome is so predetermined, right? If you’re in New York, Illinois, California, that’s dark blue territory. If you’re in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, it’s dark red territory. We found already that 47% of the people in this election are voting against a candidate, not in favor of one—they’re voting against Trump or against Biden. So, if you’re a Trump voter in the heartland of Nebraska, and you see Biden as everything you hate about politics—Your perception is he’s a five-decade swamp dweller who’s traded on political positions to enrich his family, he’s been wrong on about every major foreign and domestic policy issue, and he was written off for dead by his own party until he was revived in the 11th hour. So you’re going to vote for Trump. Aren’t you just wasting your vote? And conversely, let’s say you’re a voter in New York, California or Illinois, and you see Trump as a race-baiting narcissist, an embarrassment on the global stage or someone who just can’t tell the truth—or who’s made the conscious decision at key cultural events and moments, such as booming economic recovery, or after the Floyd riots, or during the pandemic, to divide our nation rather than bringing people together, and you believe you have to vote against him. But, you’re in Illinois, California, New York. Your vote really doesn’t matter. Doesn’t it make more sense to send a message? Instead of voting against the candidate, you decide to essentially send a message that you want more diversity and choice in your election. So, I’ve always maintained that and advocated for third-party votes in these hard, dark blue or dark red states. But, as you know, the outcomes are determined by the swing states. What is the case that you make to swing state voters to make a third-party vote?
Well, I say you’re the one who can really make a difference. And, by the way, let me quickly add: Yes, that’s exactly what I’ve been telling the red staters and the blue staters. Look, Trump is going to get all the electoral college votes anyway. So, if you like the fact that he’s got a deficit that’s going up faster than Obama’s, if you like the fact that he’s given us the biggest debt ever, if you like the fact that he’s not balancing the budget, sure, go ahead and vote for him. But, if you want to send them a message that, “Hey, we voted for you because you said you were an outsider, you said you were a businessman who could take care of things,” then vote for me to send him the message of, “Hey, we don’t like the job you’re doing,” because he’s going to get all your electoral votes anyway. And then I tell the blue states, “Look, I remember the Democratic Party from the 1960s. They were anti-war, they were pro-little guy, pro-free speech, and now they’re none of that. And, by the way, is Joe Biden your first pick? Or was your first pick Tulsi Gabbard, the only anti-war candidate and they muzzled her, took her off the stage. Or was your choice Bernie Sanders, who they bought off? If your [first] choice was Joe Biden, and you like the crime bill and the fact that he’s a war hawk, go ahead and vote for him. But if you want to send a message to the Democratic Party establishment, ‘Hey, we want to pick our own candidate,’ then vote for me.” But yes, to the swing states, I say, “You know what, they’re really watching you, and if you want them to change their behavior, if you vote for me, then you are sending a very strong message that, ‘Hey, you have got to get your act together or we’re going to go elsewhere.’
Listen to the full episode here to hear more of Jorgensen’s platform positions, including healthcare, the drug war, Edward Snowden and Ross Ulbricht pardons, troops overseas, abortion, the Clemson Tigers and cask-strength whiskey, as well as to hear other episodes of The Political Trade.