KSU Libertarians embrace difference of opinion, struggle for national recognition

Shane Cress, a member of the Kent State Liberty Alliance, listens to other members speak during the group meeting on Tuesday, October 2. Photo by MELANIE NESTERUK.

While most students are caught in the crosshairs of the sometimes disheartening political discourse circulating the Republican and Democratic parties, libertarian students suggest that there is an alternative to the mainstream rhetoric.

Members of the Kent Student Liberty Alliance come in all philosophical shapes and sizes, according to Shane Cress, president of the group.

“Something we always say about libertarians is that if you put 10 in a room you’ll get 11 opinions,” he said.

Cress, sporting his “Ron Paul Revolution” attire, said he has yet to decide whether or not he’ll vote in the upcoming Nov. 6 election because he feels disenfranchised with the political process.

If he does decide to go to the polls, he said it will be the last time he’ll vote in a federal election, though he will continue to participate in state and local elections.

Maggie Dickerson, outreach director for the Liberty Alliance, is voting for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate for president, because he most accurately represents her core tenets: smaller government and military involvement, less-intrusive drug laws and lower taxes.

“He really symbolizes the Libertarian Party and people who consider themselves libertarians,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said she thinks the reason libertarians have such a difficult time gaining any traction in mainstream politics is because there is a difference in money and power. Both the Democratic and Republican parties go out of their way to have third parties removed from the ballots, which leads to lawsuits.

“There are three states that Gary Johnson is not on the ballot,” she said. “I’m not sure exactly how it works, but the Romney campaign sent in paperwork to have him removed from the ballot.”

In Michigan, Johnson was barred from appearing on the ballot because of a law that prohibits a candidate who loses in a primary election of one party from appearing under another party banner in the general election. Johnson ran as a Republican during the most recent primary season.

Many Republicans worry that Johnson will siphon votes from them because although he is socially liberal, he is also fiscally conservative.

Cress said that many members of the alliance felt extremely discouraged during the Republican National Convention when Ron Paul was stripped of his delegates at the last minute. The Republican National Committee adopted provisions that require convention delegates to vote for the candidate who won statewide at the ballot box, which limits grassroots campaigns like Paul’s.

“Before the votes were even done, the results went on the teleprompter,” he said. “That was a demonstration of why most libertarians are anti-political at this point. We don’t think problems are going to be solved with either candidate.”

Some members of the Liberty Alliance are so discouraged with the gridlock in Washington that they don’t plan to vote for any candidate, but will use this election to make a statement.

“There are some people in our group who feel like the political realm is not the best way to instill the values of libertarian philosophies,” Dickerson said. “They don’t want specific representation.”

Vote for None of the Above, or NOTA, is an option on the Ohio ballot that allows residents to withhold consent from an election to office, just as voters can cast a “No” vote on a ballot question.

“Vote for NOTA is not necessarily about not voting at all but more of a lesson in consent or the denial thereof,” Nicholas Burdohan, director of Vote for NOTA, said.

Cress is unsure as to why the Libertarian Party has such a notorious reputation of being the party of radicals. The American people are suffering while the two predominant political parties engage in an endless power struggle, he said, and all the libertarians want is an end to the bickering.

“It’s not actually that radical to believe that people should be free,” he said. “At the end of the day, the government is just a big gun that we use to point at each other, and that’s why most of us don’t like politics. Because it’s just a game to control the gun.”

Contact Christina Suttles at csuttle1@kent.edu.

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