​Students for Individual Liberty speak out on presidential election

Libertarian groups join the debate


The Students for Individual Liberty discuss their views on Presidential candidate Gary Johnson and the long-term goals for the party. 

While many people have been focused on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in this year’s presidential election, some student groups on Grounds are spreading the word about third party candidates who they believe should be in the Oval Office.

The Students for Individual Liberty organization on Grounds is composed of many young Libertarians, along with those who purely identify with the classical ideal.

James W. Lark III, Systems Engineering and Applied Mathematics lecturer, founded SIL in 1987 and now serves as the current advisor for the group.

“From what I can tell, there is a general level of dissatisfaction on the part of many people, regardless of if they are self-identified Libertarians, with the representatives of the presidential ticket [for this election],” Lark said.

Due to this possibility of more people from either party being dissatisfied with Clinton and Trump, Grace Charlton, fourth-year Batten student and co-chairperson of SIL, said recruiting people to hear about Libertarian ideals and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is easier this year.

“I think a lot of people in our generation are Libertarian-leaning, they just don’t really know the term,” Charlton said. “We get that fiscally conservative side from the Republicans and then more socially accepting side from the Democrats.”

Charlton said SIL, along with Libertarians in general, have three core beliefs — encouraged free market, increased civil liberties and restrained foreign policy.

“The idea is that … governments should only have the power that we the people give them. Governments are instituted among people to protect rights,” Lark said. “Governments are not instituted to serve as your mommy and daddy. They are not here to make you eat your vegetables. They are not there to inculpate virtue. We feel that governments at all levels — local, state and federal — have basically gotten too large, too expensive and too intrusive.”

Along with serving on the boards of Libertarian organizations, Lark is a former national chairman of the Libertarian Party. He has been able to meet and get to know Johnson at various conventions and conferences, some of which they have both been speakers for.

“I’ve known Gov. Johnson for several years,” Lark said. “We’ve spoken at a lot of the same events…I like him, personally. [He] seems like a good fellow. I...would like to see him be a little bit more radical libertarian on certain issues.”

Charlton is focusing on the potential advancement of the Libertarian group as a whole rather than Johnson’s election himself.

“Gary Johnson is not the perfect candidate and I don’t even think he’s the best mouthpiece for the ideology … But I agree with him so much more than I agree with either of the two candidates,” Charlton said. “[Johnson is] Libertarian at the perfect time … It’s the time where Libertarians can have influence and people could see us as a legitimate group.”­­­­

Many Libertarians are attracted to the idea of a potential long-term change that will come with higher numbers voting third-party.

“There is a strategy behind voting third-party beyond just winning,” Dalton said. “While the result may not be a victory in this November for the Libertarian ticket, it could be those issues being incorporated on one of the platforms down the road into one of the two major parties, you could see a more Libertarian-minded candidate come forth in [one of the parties].”

One disadvantage came for the Libertarian Party in the election when Johnson was not allowed to participate in the Presidential Debates, the first of which broadcasted live Monday, Sept. 26 and the second on Sunday, Oct. 9.

Because viewers were not able to hear Johnson’s stance on the topics debated, Sam Dalton, fourth-year Commerce Student and co-president of the University’s chapter of Youth for Johnson/Weld, dedicated efforts to tweeting out responses on behalf of Johnson correlating with each debate question.

“I think a lot of people are really wishing [Johnson] was out there on the debate stage, because they thought that that other voice, kind of that level-headed, rational adult who talks about the issues they care about wasn’t heard at all [and] didn’t have the opportunity to speak,” Dalton said.

Johnson and Weld are on the ballot in all 50 states and Libertarians are spreading the word. The Youth for Johnson/Weld group painted Beta Bridge supporting the Libertarian candidates last month.

“If you get yourself into the loop of thinking that [Johnson and Weld] can’t win because they don’t have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to their name, then you’re kind of stuck in a circular logic loop of ‘They’ll never win,’ so I’m trying to break that loop and help people understand how that works,” Dalton said.

While both SIL and Youth for Johnson/Weld have been focusing on spreading Libertarian ideals for the past month on Grounds, everything will come to a climax on Nov. 8.

“Part of the reason why I personally support Gary Johnson [is] so that the other two parties see ‘hey, we’re doing something wrong. People are not agreeing with us, and to win an election, we have to capture what those people think too, so we can’t ignore what those people are saying anymore,’” Charlton said.

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