One of the most ambitious candidates for this year's presidential election has remained largely unmentioned by the major news networks. Nonetheless, this has not stopped Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik from earning ballot access in at least 48 states (Oklahoma and New Hampshire are being decided in court). In comparison, Ralph Nader is only on the ballot in 35 states. Despite the lack of any major media coverage and a limited budget, Badnarik is pulling in as much as one percent of the vote in recent polls.
How is this possible? Badnarik's libertarian viewpoints have drawn in many political enthusiasts. Libertarians like to describe themselves as "socially liberal," yet "fiscally conservative." That is, they agree with Democrats on social issues such as gay rights and drug law reform, but lean toward the right on economic issues like free trade and the federal income tax (overall, this puts them in the middle of the political spectrum). Militarily, Libertarians see war as an option of last resort, and were generally opposed to the invasion of Iraq.
This combination of viewpoints translates into an ideological coherent platform of less government wherever practical. If this stance sounds familiar to you, it is likely that you have studied the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, or other great works of our founding fathers. In comparison, Democrats would prefer to have more government involvement in the economy. Meanwhile, the Republicans would like to see more government regulation in people's personal lives.
Not only are voters becoming attracted to the philosophical implications of libertarianism, but many are seeing it as pragmatic as well. According to Libertarians, government programs are often manipulated for personal gain among special interest groups. Furthermore, even when government programs are carried out with the best of intentions (e.g. the War on Poverty) they often fail miserably.
Badnarik is currently running ad campaigns in swing states including New Mexico and Nevada to raise national awareness of the party. In addition, he has been traveling to rallies and debates throughout the rest of the country. In traditionally conservative states, he is touting his fiscally conservative platform as an alternative to Bush's runaway domestic spending. In Democratic strongholds like New York, he has been lambasting Bush and Kerry for initiating the war in Iraq.
Currently a resident of Austin, Texas, Badnarik was born and raised in Hammond, Indiana (just 16 miles south of Hyde Park). He briefly worked for ComEd in Zion, Illinois, before moving out of the area. His vice presidential running mate, Richard Campagna, is a returning scholar at the University of Chicago.
Assuming that Badnarik does not capture the White House in November, he will return to his profession as a teacher of the U.S. Constitution. It was his studying of this text that originally compelled him to become active in Libertarian politics. Initially thought of as a long shot in the Libertarian presidential primary, his adeptness at articulating his beliefs was what propelled him to the candidacy. He was selected over frontrunners Gary Nolan (a radio talk-show host from Ohio) and Aaron Russo (a Hollywood movie producer) at the Libertarian National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, held four months ago.
Responsible voters should take a proactive stance in evaluating all of the candidates before they cast their vote in November. Relying fully on subjective media is not enough. Third-party candidates are too often left out of the debate. To learn more about Michael Badnarik, check out www.badnarik.org.