Libertarians, hoping for a better showing in the 2016 presidential campaign, see an opportunity for success by making inroads with supporters of Bernie Sanders, a party leader said Saturday.
Sanders has said he will not run as an independent if he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination. Arvin Vohra, vice chairman of the Libertarian Party, predicted many of Sanders’ supporters will be drawn to the Libertarian focus on individual rights and limited government if Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee, the most likely outcome given her delegate lead.
“We want to reach everybody but I do believe that a lot of the people who are currently supporting Sanders will be the ones with whom that message will resonate with the strongest,” Vohra said in a Saturday interview.
Libertarians are holding their presidential nominating convention in Orlando this weekend and will select their presidential nominee on Sunday. Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, is favored to win this year’s nomination.
The Libertarian Party shares some similar goals with Sanders when it comes to ending the war on drugs, driving down college debt, and reluctance to use military action. The party and Sanders both opposed the Patriot Act.
But Sanders wants to make public colleges and universities tuition free with government subsidies, while Libertarians want to abolish government subsidies to universities. Sanders supported the use of force in the Balkans and Afghanistan; Libertarians say the military should be used only in defense and want all foreign bases shut down. And while Sanders has consistently fought trade deals, Libertarians want to remove government restrictions on free trade.
Vohra said Sanders supporters “have seen the horrors that government can do to individual lives,” and Libertarian policies will ultimately make sense to them.
“These are people who are open, they’re active, they’re excited, they're engaged,” he said. “I believe that our message will reach them and resonate with them.”
Johnson received almost 1% of the vote when he ran for president as a Libertarian candidate in 2012. A May 14-17 Fox News poll found 10% of respondents favored Johnson in a three-way matchup with Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump (42%) and Clinton (39%). Johnson was favored by 8% of both Republicans and Democrats and 18% of independents.
The party has confirmed a place on the ballot in 32 states and expects to be on the ballot in 50 states, Vohra said.
“There’s so many people in this country who just want less government,” Vohra said. “They know at this point that neither Hillary nor Donald Trump have any intention of reducing the size and scope of government.”
Source: USA Today