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Third Party Support Alive and Well with Bobcats

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As students eagerly queued up to attend President Obama’s rally last week, some may have been surprised to find protesters more likely to quote Ayn Rand than Ronald Reagan. Signs bearing phrases such as “Atlas is Shrugging” and “Come Talk to a Libertarian” wove through the line, reminding all in sight that the Republican Party does not represent all those opposed to the current sitting president.

The Libertarian party joins three other third party candidates on this year’s ballot: Green, Constitution and Justice.

The Students for Liberty was formed to unite Libertarians on Ohio University’s campus. The nonprofit organization cannot officially endorse any candidate, though Campus Coordinator Keara Vickers links a growing interest in the party at OU to presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Ron Paul, who ran in the Republican primaries.

“The movement itself has grown exponentially,” she said. “During my two to three years involved, I’ve seen a huge leap in student organizations and libertarians.”

But garnering widespread support has proven challenging in a county so deeply blue with an Obama campaign so fervently represented.

“I love the OU Dems,” Vickers said. “I love seeing any kind of political activism on campus. But it’s difficult because the Libertarian party doesn’t have the same kind of funding or resources as College Democrats or Bobcats for Obama.”

Johnson has raised $2 million in fundraising compared to Obama’s $556 million and Mitt Romney’s $340, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Jill Stein of the Green party has raised $644,000.

Financial obstacles are joined by a stubborn mindset of many voters who vote strictly as Republicans or Democrats.

“It’s difficult because people come in with a certain perception, ‘I’m a Democrat but I disagree with issues X, Y, Z,’” she said.

A study conducted by Al Jazeera reported that nearly half of Americans would support the creation of a major third party. Only 28 percent would not consider voting third party.

Yet the persisting bi-partisan atmosphere does not seem to suggest third party victory in November, with the very nature of the title “third party” suggesting Democrats and Republicans as the understood juggernauts.

“I think voting for the lesser of two evils is more morally wrong than voting for a third party,” Vickers said.

Libertarians also encourage third party voting to achieve ballot access. Candidates must garner a certain percent of votes to see their name listed in the polling booths.

Requirements vary state to state.

“Voting for your conscience is not throwing away your vote,” Vickers said.

Libertarians are not discouraged by the polls, taking the youth interest in Ron Paul as a positive omen for their cause. Vickers hopes the sight of a distinct push for a third party candidate on next election season’s horizon is not just a hopeful mirage, and has confidence in the party’s ability to break more people into the third party system – especially on a student level.

“I like to see people become politically informed and active,” she said. “No matter what their political persuasion is.”

 

 

 

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