Meet Chase Oliver, the young Libertarian Party presidential candidate

Anthony Zurcher,Rachel Looker

Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images Chase Oliver Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some November voters may see a less familiar choice on their presidential ballot when they head to the voting booth this November: Chase Oliver.

Mr. Oliver is this year’s presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, a political party that typically wins about 1% of the national vote and is known for promoting civil liberties and small government.

At age 38 (just three years above the constitutional threshold to become a presidential candidate), Mr. Oliver is by far the youngest candidate in this year’s field.

He is also the only openly gay candidate, which he said he hopes will be an example for aspiring LGBT politicians.

The former Georgia congressional candidate found himself as a third-party presidential candidate in an election that gave voters a sense of déjà vu. Former President Donald Trump won the Republican nomination and President Joe Biden is running for a second term as the incumbent Democrat, setting the stage for a rematch between the two candidates .

On Saturday, Trump spoke at the Libertarian Party’s national convention in Washington DC and asked for their support. He was roundly booed.

This was no surprise to Mr. Oliver, who ultimately won the party’s presidential nomination after seven rounds of voting the following day.

“He came here to try to appeal to our voters,” Mr. Oliver told the BBC’s Americast podcast on Thursday. “He received exactly the Libertarian reception that someone like him deserved.”

 Jim WATSON / AFP Former US President Donald Trump on stage at the Freedom National Convention Jim WATSON/AFP

Mr. Oliver said Trump represents a “worldwide war state” and criticized his expansion of the US national debt and the Covid blockade during his four-year term in office.

Ultimately, the Libertarian Party convention chairman ruled that Trump, as the presumptive Republican nominee, was ineligible to be the Libertarian Party nominee.

The former Republican president was not the only outsider speaking at the convention. Robert F Kennedy, who is now mounting an independent presidential bid, also spoke – and his reception was considerably warmer.

However, when it came time to vote, he only received support from about 2% of the delegates and was eliminated in the first round.

However, in US public opinion polls, Mr Kennedy has performed significantly better than any independent or third-party candidate in decades, with a peak polling rate of around 15%. %. This figure is much higher than the 3% mark that was the highest for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson in the 2016 election results.

Mr Oliver said he understood why Mr Kennedy, the grandson of US President John F Kennedy, would be successful – but he told Americast that voters looking for an outsider would be better served with his party. he party is trying to build a long-term alternative to both. -Party system

He warned that Mr. Kennedy is a “one-time” choice and will no longer exist after this election.

“Do you want to call it a protest vote?” he asks. “Or do you want to build something that can last and build a foundation so we can work together to dismantle state abuse?”

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. State of the Union address at the Libertarian Party's National ConventionKevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Dan John, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been a Libertarian since the 2000s and recently became a Libertarian delegate to this year’s national convention.

John said he thinks a Libertarian candidate could have more influence in this year’s election cycle than in previous years.

“We had a term of each [Biden and Trump] and you have people who hate their lives under both,” the 39-year-old said. “We got a protest vote for that reason.”

But if Mr. Kennedy cuts the Libertarian Party’s vote share too deeply in November, the party could fall below what many states set to receive automatic caps in upcoming presidential elections. Such an outcome could deal a blow to the Liberals’ hopes of further expanding the party’s support.

Alana Leguia, 32, attended the Libertarian Party convention and said she planned to vote for Oliver in November.

“I think a Libertarian Party candidate… would be a direct competitor to Kennedy and I think people are ready for something new, something outside of the monopoly. They are done with Trump and Biden,” said the Sussex County, New Jersey resident.

At the heart of Libertarianism is an aggressive effort to limit the scope of government by cutting spending and regulation and expanding individual freedom. In practice, this includes legalizing most drugs and prostitution, expanding gun ownership, dramatically cutting U.S. military spending, and allowing widespread immigration.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Members of the Libertarian Party stand on chairs at the Libertarian Party National ConventionChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some party positions have limited public support and cut off mainstream political debate for the time being.

“We must educate the public that immigration is not something to fear,” Mr. Oliver said. “It’s really a natural thing that we’ve seen for hundreds of years on the North American continent and something that I want to continue to see.”

He added that one of his goals in the upcoming campaign is to broaden his party’s appeal to younger voters, who have expressed particular dissatisfaction with the political status quo. In recent years.

“They are calling for something better than the Republicans or the Democrats, and we need to give it to them,” he said. “We need to provide solutions to their goals and to the problems they are facing.”

Erin Wood, 40, has been a Libertarian for many years and does not believe that Mr. Kennedy or Trump will win against her party.

“We are a party of stubbornness,” she said.

The Montgomery County, Maryland, resident said she plans to vote for her party’s candidate in November.

“I don’t have a plan B right now,” she said.

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