Although President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry haven’t spoken at AU yet, one presidential candidate stopped by on Sunday.
Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, spoke at AU yesterday to about 40 people about his political platform and the Libertarian Party’s viewpoints.
Aaron Biterman, former president of the AU College Libertarians, coordinated the event. “I am very excited to see Mr. Badnarik here. ... All it took was a simple phone call,” Biterman said. “It doesn’t take very much effort to bring a third-party candidate to campus.”
The College Libertarians brought Badnarik to campus in an effort to voice students’ concerns about where the United States is heading, according to Biterman.
“Most people have never heard of the Libertarian Party,” Badnarik said. “The truth is that we have been around for 33 years.”
According to Badnarik, many Americans have misconceptions about Libertarians.
“For instance, some think the term Libertarian implies that we are liberal,” Badnarik said. “Actually we have both liberal and conservative viewpoints.”
Libertarianism is based on the term “liberty,” which refers to an individual’s ability to make his or her own decisions, according to Badnarik.
One of the major Libertarian talking points is that the Patriot Act is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. “In regards to the Patriot Act, the government’s obligation is to obtain a warrant before searching,” Badnarik said. “That is not what the Patriot Act entails.”
Libertarians also feel that the government is overly powerful. According to Badnarik, President Bush can imprison people he doesn’t agree with through the Patriot Act.
Badnarik also shared a story in which he was speaking at a large university and was placed in an auditorium that could hold 3,000, but only 15 individuals attended his speech.
“I was embarrassed and asked why I wasn’t allowed to speak in a classroom in a more intimate setting,” Badnarik said. “I was told that the auditorium was a free speech zone.”
According to Badnarik, there should be no such thing as a free speech zone. “I exercise free speech, and I advise you to do the same,” he said.
As a Libertarian, Badnarik hopes to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service completely, explaining that by voting Democrat or Republican, one is voting to increase taxes.
Badnarik also hopes to end the war in Iraq quickly and “bring our sons and daughters home as fast as possible.”
“I am pursuing unreasonable odds,” Badnarik said. “Democrats and Republicans can raise more than one million dollars in an evening.”
According to Badnarik, there are fewer than 2,000 Libertarians nationwide.
“I am urging people to join a militia for our cause ... just average people doing whatever they can do to help out,” Badnarik said.
Badnarik has attempted to participate in one of the three presidential debates but was unsuccessful.
“In Atlanta, I won a debate against two Libertarians who wanted to run for president. ... Imagine what I can do against George W. Bush and John Kerry,” Badnarik said.
Badnarik felt that the debates between Bush and Kerry were completely scripted and similar to a Broadway play.
“I want to raise your awareness that you do have another option, you don’t necessarily have to vote for the lesser of two evils,” Badnarik said. “Most people are disappointed with the Democratic Party and disgusted with Republicans. ... The media intends to black out the Libertarian party on a national level and Libertarians have to rely on a grassroots campaign.”
Some students attending the speech agreed.
“It’s good for college students to see the possible option ‘C’ instead of none of the above,” said AU freshman Adam Lamodhe. “It’s important for people to think outside the box.”
According to Adam Maldonado, a Washington Semester junior, there are 16 regulated parties in the Democratic system.
“The media and political atmosphere is dominated by the two big parties, Republican and Democrat,” Maldonado said.
Badnarik answered questions after his speech involving his stance on gay marriage, the crisis in Sudan, and his view on abortion.
“I am strongly for individual rights, and gays are individuals, so they should have the right to marry,” Badnarik said.
In response to the United States’ role in the crisis in Sudan, Badnarik said that it is the United States’ priority to bring Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to justice.
“The problem with al Qaeda is that they move around a lot but does that give us justification to invade Iraq?” Badnarik said. “We are a national defense not an international offense.”
Involving abortion, Badnarik said that the Libertarian assumption is that a woman owns her body and if she doesn’t she is a slave. Badnarik gave statistics that 51 percent of Libertarians believe women have a right to their body and are pro-choice, while 49 percent ask the question of “What about the baby?” According to Badnarik, the government has no right to make a decision such as aborting a child.
College Libertarians who attended the event were excited to see their presidential candidate.
“I am probably one of the only people on campus who gets to personally meet their presidential candidate,” said Nathan Dolezal, junior in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Aaron Mandel, a Washington Semester junior, feels that the speech was a great opportunity to experience third party views.
“To make personal contact with the Libertarian presidential nominee is an excellent opportunity I don’t want to miss,” Mandel said.
Andreas Saint-Laurent, president of the College Libertarians, felt that the event was a good way for college students to see what a smaller government is all about. “It’s good to see such a great name coming to campus,” Saint-Laurent said.
Lee Ann Paulbinsky, junior, is excited to see the Libertarian party at AU making a name for itself. “The party is really taking off ... It’s great to see Michael Badnarik coming to AU.”