Libertarians Say They Expect a Good Year

LAS VEGAS (CN) — With many conservative voters displeased with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders supporters furious at the Democrats, Libertarian Party candidates at the party’s presidential debate in Las Vegas said they look for big gains in November.
     The Libertarian Party, which claims to be the nation’s fastest-growing political party, held its final presidential debate Monday afternoon in Las Vegas at the Opportunity Village Engelstad Campus.
     Opportunity Village is a privately funded charity, which Libertarian magician Penn Jillette, of Penn and Teller fame, suggested as the debate site.
     Three men are vying for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination: former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, computer anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee, and conservative journalist Austin Petersen, who at 35 says he is the youngest presidential candidate in U.S. history.
     Jillette moderated the event and laid out the rules for the four rounds, which began with a town hall-style introduction of each candidate. The second round had all three candidates answer prepared questions, followed by a round of questions from the audience, concluding with a lightning round.
     McAfee, CEO of MGT Capital Investments and creator of McAfee anti-virus software, who was the first to introduce himself, spoke of his penchant for fighting government corruption, which led to death threats in Belize, and spoke of his fondness for revolution.
     “I am a walking revolution. The Libertarian Party is a revolution,” McAfee said. “Are we revolutionaries, or are we walking the slow walk into compromise?”
     Next up was Petersen, who founded The Libertarian Republic and urged the more than 200 audience members to face an “internal challenge” and “liberate ourselves and our country.”
     He said the 2016 presidential election amounts to a choice between authoritarianism and liberty, and that “no one knows how to live their lives like we do.”
     Last to introduce himself was Johnson, who secured the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination in 2012 and was a Republican governor or New Mexico from 1995 to 2003.
     Johnson worked his way through college as a handyman, founded Big J Enterprises in 1976, and it became one of the New Mexico’s largest construction companies. He said he’s been an entrepreneur his entire life, and as New Mexico’s governor “may have vetoed more bills than the other 49 [governors] combined.”
     He said he was the first U.S. governor to advocate for marijuana legalization, and still is the highest elected official in favor of it.
     “Half of all the money spent on courts and prisons are from drug laws,” Johnson said. He said most U.S. citizens favor legalizing marijuana, but it remains illegal in most states and under federal law.
     “Can you think of a bigger disconnect in this country?” Johnson asked.
     Johnson received more than 1.2 million votes in the 2012 general election, just under 1 percent of the vote.
     The three candidates generally agreed on their notions of small government, distrust of a large federal government, legalizing marijuana, lowering taxes, reducing dependency on what they called government handouts, ending government funding of research, and other issues.
     Common questions from the audience included ending the war on drugs, ending offensive wars in general, availability of birth control, and ensuring transparency in government.
     Celebrities asked questions remotely, including Drew Carey, Arsenio Hall, Clay Aiken and Dee Snider.
     The Nevada Libertarian Party hosted the event, which was less a debate than a promotion of Libertarian Party ideals. The candidates did not treat one another as rivals, as do Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
     The cordial debate focused on how all three candidates are different from the presumptive nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties and why voters who are not happy with Trump, Clinton, or two-party politics in general might want to give the Libertarian Party a harder look this year.
     The Libertarian Party will hold its national convention May 27-30 in Orlando. Many expect Johnson to get the party nod again.
     “We got our ass kicked in 2012,” Johnson said. “We got beat, and we got angry over that.”
     He expects 2016 to be the best year yet for the Libertarian Party, which will pick up votes from disenchanted voters looking for alternatives to Democrats and Republicans.

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