Voters have another option at the ballot box this November besides the two main parties currently vying for control of the White House.
While several parties exist outside of the Democratic and Republican parties, the Libertarian Party has maintained a particularly strong presence in the political sphere.
The main beliefs of the Libertarian Party are structured around the protection of individual rights and a significantly smaller role for the government, as highlighted in the the official party platform. While the party is not calling for complete abolition of the state, it does advocate for fewer controls and regulations.
“The Libertarian Party is about choices and who has the right to make those choices,” Denton County Libertarian Party Chair James Felber said in an email interview. “Libertarians believe in a high degree of personal, economic, and social freedom and that ultimate authority rests in the hands of the individual and not the state.”
Felber added that the Libertarian Party has been forward-thinking in its policies, from opposing the Defense of Marriage Act before it was passed to supporting the decriminalization of marijuana.
“Elections shouldn’t be about choosing between the lesser of two evils or to think that your vote for third party is a wasted vote,” Felber said.
However, political science professor Valerie Martinez-Ebers doubts a Libertarian could win.
“Sadly, the way our system is constructed with the winner-takes-all, they just don’t play a role,” she said. “There aren’t enough people who identify with the Libertarian position.”
She added that if someone with high name recognition ran as a third-party candidate, then maybe it could have an effect on the election’s outcome.
“I wish that we had a multi-party system in the United States,” Martinez-Ebers said. ”Whenever people talk about third parties, I can’t be anything but supportive, but you also have to be realistic, and the third parties haven’t played a major role.”
Political science junior J. Russell Prause said that he doesn’t think a third party could win the presidential election because not enough people have grown up Libertarian.
“I think that largely the party you choose to take a side with is based on your culture and upbringing,” Prause said. “I feel that by the time anyone learns about Libertarianism that they’ve already picked a side and they feel they have to along with those ideologies whether they really believe it or not.”
He added that although he takes a liberal stance on some issues, he votes conservative because of others. He doesn’t identify as Libertarian.
“The most important thing I can think of is just for people to use their own mind instead of following what their friends and family think,” Prause said.