With the election less than a week away and Swarthmore students engaged in a wide array of both partisan and non-partisan election activities, the Gazette continues today a series examining political action at Swat. Today’s installment discusses the formation of the upstart College Libertarians and their election activities. Yesterday’s feature on the College Republicans provided a brief overview of their planned activities for the weekend and the period after the election. Check out Friday’s issue for a profile of the organization at the heart of campus dialogue: the College Democrats.
Part 2: College Libertarians
The College Republicans have to suffer the lack of respect from many of their Swarthmore colleagues, but the College Libertarians may well have a more serious problem: Anonymity. The word “libertarian” may get tossed around from time to time in political science courses but little is known about the libertarian movement or its political arm, the Libertarian Party of America. The LP suffers from the same maladies as all third parties and also lacks a figurehead such as Ralph Nader or Ross Perot. Who was the Libertarian candidate for President in 2000? The age of Harry Browne may have passed us by, but College Libertarians President David German Ã¢â‚¬â„¢08 and his fellow libertarians want us to Like Mike (Badnarik, that is.)
German found libertarianism after, “Sometime in middle school, I realized that I was always seemed liberal around conservatives and seemed conservative around liberals.” It turned out that German was not a centristÃ¢â‚¬”someone who takes positions in between the archetypal “liberal” and “conservative” stances, but a libertarian, somebody who consistently believes in small government, individual rights and responsibilities, and free market economics. “Libertarianism requires that a person has a lot of confidence in individuals to be responsible adults and do the right thing without constant supervision.”
A common criticism of those who vote for any third party candidate is that they are wasting their vote by using it on a candidate who canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t possibly win. German encourages libertarians to buck the trend and vote for Badnarik. “Your vote will be a drop in the bucket either way unless you live in one of the very few contested states, and every libertarian vote builds name recognition for the party and encourages the media to give it more coverage. People say that this election is too important to vote for a third party, but every election is going to seem that way and if third parties are ever going to get any recognition, you have to vote for them at some point.”
According to German, there used to be a libertarian discussion group, but it was informal and was not affiliated with the Libertarian Party. The new College Libertarians are affiliated with the state and national party. Probably every Swattie has seen at least one flyer that asserts that Bush and Kerry are basically the same, or read a chalk message extolling him or her to vote Badnarik. Most of the College LibertariansÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s efforts leading up to the election have been about “getting the word out” that voters have a third choice in the election.
The group is also hosting a fireside chat with David Jahn, the Libertarian candidate for US Congress in PennsylvaniaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 7th district, which includes Swarthmore. Many Swatties have registered to vote in Pennsylvania in an attempt to influence the Presidential election, and they will thus also have the opportunity to vote on this Congressional contest. The chat will be this Thursday (today) at 6 pm in Kohlberg Commons.
Potential members or anybody desiring more information about the College Libertarians should email David German at dgerman1.