Libertarian Presidential Contender Jo Jorgensen Wants To Combine Principle with Palatable Persuasion
Jo Jorgensen, a senior lecturer in psychology at Clemson University, had such a wonderful time running as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate on a ticket with Harry Browne in 1996 that she’s long contemplated taking a swing at the presidential slot. Professional conflicts kept her from doing so for most of this century, and she took herself out of the potential running in 2012 since she was impressed with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson’s big-name real-world qualifications. Jorgensen sees 2020 as an opportunity to try for the top spot on the Libertarian ticket.
While pleased with Johnson as a candidate, Jorgensen did not care for “how outside Republican consultants ran his campaign.” She thinks they didn’t do enough thorough data-sharing with the party and that Johnson’s candidacy, despite its record-high vote totals, didn’t do enough to permanently grow party membership. Jorgensen notes that the Browne/Jorgensen campaign year saw both higher national paid membership growth, and a growth that lasted longer, than the 2016 campaign led by Johnson and Bill Weld. It’s those new members, Jorgensen says, who will be the candidates, canvassers, donors, and activists to keep the party healthier down the line.
Senior Editor Brian Doherty spoke with Jorgensen by phone last night after she’d completed another online debate, this one broadcast by the We Are Libertarians podcast and featuring the three top selections of a delegate-only poll after an earlier Kentucky Libertarian Party debate from last week: Jorgensen, John Monds, and Judge James Gray (who had been Johnson’s running mate in 2012).
Reason: How was tonight’s debate for you?
Jorgensen: I thought it went very well. People who will tell me the truth told me I probably came in first, but we’ll see what the delegates say. That’s the important audience.
What do you think the Libertarian delegates want in a candidate this year?
I really think they want what I’m selling: a candidate both practical and principled. Some other candidates aren’t following the platform all the way, [which they think means] being practical but they stray from the platform too much. I’ve also seen complaints regarding people who think they are being very hardcore selling freedom and liberty, but aren’t showing how they would persuade, how they’d sell [Libertarian ideas] to the American people.
COVID-19, though not something anyone was thinking about when this campaign began, is going to be the dominant issue. What’s your take on it for a national electorate?
That government is way too intrusive [in general] is why I’m running, why we even have the Libertarian Party. But even I’ve been shocked at the [government’s reaction to COVID-19]. Los Angeles announcing it will be closed through August? That’s just unconscionable.
If cities and states continue to stay closed, it will make it mu
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