Saying the Libertarian Party is highly unified around his candidacy, presidential nominee Michael Badnarik hopes disenchantment with the Republican Party and high-profile TV commercials will help him garner unprecedented support in November’s election.
Badnarik, who describes himself as “almost everyone’s second choice” for the Libertarian nomination, was able to win the party’s nod after front-runners Aaron Russo and Gary Nolan failed to garner enough votes at the national convention to win. In an interview with WorldNetDaily, Badnarik says his nomination actually brought the party together. He says both Russo and Nolan are working to get him elected.
“The Libertarian Party is stronger and more unified this year than it has ever been,” Badnarik said, “partially because the party did not collapse into factions over the presidential nomination.”
A computer programmer and consultant from Austin, Texas, Badnarik says the Libertarians’ message of less government intervention – in both citizens’ lives and in foreign countries – will ring true for millions of voters this year.
He says he has a three-part plan for getting that message out: “Television, television and television.”
“Our goal is to raise $5 million so that my former opponent Aaron Russo can produce the commercials and we can start broadcasting them on prime-time television,” Badnarik said.
The candidate plans to run the spots between the dinner hour and bedtime, “not at 2 a.m. on the Home Shopping Network,” he explained.
Badnarik, 49, is convinced he will receive a larger percentage of votes than have previous Libertarian candidates for president.
“The political environment this year is different,” he said. “I’ve had both Democrats and Republicans come up to me complaining about their own parties. … We perceive there is a much higher level of discontent than in previous elections.”
In 2000, Badnarik says, the “wasted-vote syndrome” was very acute, meaning because the race between Al Gore and George W. Bush was so close, voters felt an obligation to vote for their party’s nominee to prevent the other guy from winning. Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party’s nominee, only received 350,000 popular votes nationwide. Badnarik believes the “wasted-vote syndrome” will not be so prevalent this year.
The candidate says he anticipates being on the ballot in all 50 states.
Badnarik’s chief complaint against President Bush is his invasion of Iraq.
“We don’t feel that it’s appropriate to send 140,000 troops to Iraq when, after 9-11, we were told over and over again that it was Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida that perpetrated that tragedy,” he said.
“Libertarians are very strong on defense, and we would eagerly seek out the people who started the attack, but we are non-interventionist, which means as Americans we want to be left alone to live our lives as Americans. And Libertarians feel we should leave other countries alone to live their lives the way they want – even if they don’t conform to what our standards might be.”
Said the candidate: “We would bring our soldiers home from Iraq as quickly and safely as possible.”
Wooing the major parties
When asked why disenchanted Republicans should vote for him, Badnarik replied, “Because the Libertarian Party holds the values that people joined the Republican Party for in the first place.”
He noted that Bush has increased the size of government at a faster rate than did Democrat Bill Clinton.
“Conservatives are disappointed with the Republican Party because they keep increasing the size of government,” he said.
Badnarik said he also is hoping Democrats will be attracted to his candidacy since the Libertarian Party believes government shouldn’t tell people how to live their lives.
“The Democrats feel you should be the person to decide whether you subscribe to Playboy,” he said. “They are more in favor of medical marijuana. We basically match the values of the Democrats when it comes to social issues.”
‘A legitimate political party’
Badnarik says the “next goal” of his campaign is to receive permission to participate in the presidential debates.
To reach that goal, Badnarik wants to raise public awareness of the Libertarian Party through the TV commercials. Once that is done, he feels pressure can be brought to bear so he is allowed into the debates.
“We’re presenting ourselves as a legitimate political party with a legitimate platform,” he said. “If we can raise enough awareness with the general public, we feel we can justify participation. …
“From my point of view, it is a First Amendment issue,” he said. “My personal freedom of speech is being violated if I’m not allowed to participate in the presidential debates.”
Badnarik says any candidate who is on the ballot in all 50 states and has a mathematical chance of winning the election should be allowed to go up against Bush and Kerry.
Since Ralph Nader at this point is not on the ballot in any state, he wouldn’t qualify for the debates, even though he has greater name recognition than Badnarik.
Badnarik harkened back to the 19th century in emphasizing the importance of immigrants to the U.S., saying he is in favor of “open immigration.” Such a system would include lowering the requirements for coming to the U.S. Immigrants would have to give their name and address and possibly a photo, he said, “so we would know who is coming.”
“We would welcome anyone who comes to the United States to work hard and spend money,” he said.
Badnarik believes if the welfare state – which is financed through “government-authorized theft” – were to be eliminated, that would reduce the incentive for people to come to America to get on the government dole.
What about same-sex marriage? Badnarik believes the state should get out of the marriage business altogether.
“All individuals have the right to contract and to fall in love without whomever they choose,” he explained. “It is clearly not a government issue.
“Most people don’t know that the first marriage licenses were instituted … to prevent interracial marriages.”
He said now, interracial marriages don’t raise an eyebrow.
“The current uproar about same-sex marriage is just another form of bigotry,” Badnarik stressed, saying the belief that if homosexuals marry society will crumble is “just paranoid nonsense.”
The candidate says though marriage is regulated by states, he would, as president, promote Libertarian Party belief about licensing in hopes they would loosen restrictions.
“We want to restore power to the states and the people, as indicated by the 10th Amendment,” he said.
Split on abortion
Badnarik explained the Libertarian Party, like the general population, is split on the issue of abortion.
“The official Libertarian Party is pro-choice with the understanding the woman owns her own body,” he explained. “However, many Libertarians believe the baby owns its own body. We can’t come up with a consensus on when the baby takes ownership of his own body.
“It’s a question of property rights and who owns the property of this developing baby.”
Badnarik says he personally is pro-life: “Until we can come to a better consensus, I tend to err in favor of the baby.” He stressed, however, that his view is at odds with the official party platform.
Badnarik refused to say what, if any, religion he ascribes to, citing Article VI of the Constitution, which says no religious test shall be given for political office.
“If I were to answer that, that group of people would be more likely to support me, but others would be less likely to support me,” he said.
“I support the freedom of religion of all individuals … so my personal beliefs are irrelevant to the debate.”
The presidential hopeful is single and has no children. He has two younger brothers and a set of parents, who all live in the Midwest.
Badnarik’s running mate is Richard Campagna, a college professor and lawyer from Iowa City, Iowa. The Libertarian Party chose Campagna separately at the convention to run for vice president.
Badnarik emphasized any voters having questions about the party or his candidacy can visit lp.org.
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