In November, Some NYU Students Look Beyond Obama And Romney

At the first meeting of NYU College Libertarians on Tuesday, students took turns introducing themselves to the room and sharing why they had come. Some were motivated by philosophy: “I’m here because I read Atlas Shrugged,” one CAS student said simply. Others were concerned with policy: “I believe in the end of the war on drugs,” shared another student. For some, it was simply personal: “I just want to be able to smoke weed and eat pussy and be left alone,” declared Britt Simpson, a Gallatin junior.

The few dozen students there are among a small but unusually informed and impassioned scattering of NYU students investigating political philosophies outside of the Democratic and Republican platforms. Now, as students prepare to vote in November, some plan to cast their ballot for neither Obama nor Romney, but for one of the so-called “third party” candidates appearing on the 2012 ballot.

Although there are a diverse array of parties — including the Constitution Party, the Peace and Freedom Party and four flavors of socialist parties — only two candidates will appear on ballots in enough states to conceivably win the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency.

 Jill Stein, a physician from Massachusetts, is the nominee for the Green Party. In November, her name will appear on the ballot in at least 33 states (that number may grow as supporters continue to collect signatures). A recent Gallup poll projected Stein to receive 1% of the popular vote in November; that’s better than 2004, when Green Party nominee David Cobb received just 0.096% of the vote – but not as good as the 2.74% that Ralph Nader pulled in as the party’s nominee in 2000.

Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico will represent the Libertarian Party on ballots in at least 43 states. That same Gallup poll found 3% support for the former governor. That’s a high for the party, which hasn’t received more than 1% of the popular vote since 1980.

College Libertarians Media Chair Britton Burdick explained why he plans to vote Johnson for president when he casts his ballot in New York City this fall. “In general terms, neither candidate — Republican or Democrat — represents my views at all,” he explained. Burdick, a 24 year-old politics student in SCPS, said that he wouldn’t settle for candidates whose views he disagreed with. He cited Romney’s consistent inconsistency, calling him a “horrible politician” whose social policies he hates. Burdick doesn’t look on Obama any more favorably. “There is an astounding similarity between Obama and Bush,” Burdick said, from the President’s continued use of the controversial practice of extraordinary rendition to his expansion of drone warfare in the Middle East.

But not every member of the Libertarians group planned to vote for Johnson. Britt Simpson, the “smoke weed / eat pussy” Gallatin student (concentration: “queer studies, journalism, and psychology”), said that she still plans to vote for Obama this year. She said there’s “no chance we could have a third party candidate,” and that the Republican ticket is too frightening to risk not voting for Obama. “I think Mitt Romney is terrifying, and I think Paul Ryan is insensitive. I don’t want him to have anything to do with my vagina.”

Still, Simpson’s support for Obama is tepid at best. “I think he has good intentions,” she volunteered. Nonetheless, she felt she was “absolutely” settling by voting for the incumbent, not Johnson. “I have to compromise, which sucks,” she said.

Although the Green Party isn’t formally represented by any group on campus, supporters of Green candidate Jill Stein can still be found. James Kopf, a sophomore studying German and Politics, will vote for the first time this November, when he plans to support Stein in his home state of Pennsylvania.

“Jill Stein represents the progressive liberal attitude that I tend to associate myself with,” Kopf said. He appreciated her “lack of corporate sponsorship” and her anti-war, pro-drug-legalization and single-payer health-care platform. To him, Obama is simply the lesser of two evils – and a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil.

“It’s not throwing away my vote,” Kopf said. “I can’t think of a better chance to make my vote mean something.”

Libertarian Britton Burdick also disagreed with the popular view that a vote for a third party is a wasted vote. “If I vote for Romney, I’m throwing my vote away anyways. This is New York City,” he said (in 2008, Obama received 86% of the vote in Manhattan).

Will Cromarty, Chairman of the NYU Libertarians group, also disagreed that to vote third party is to throw away one’s vote. “I don’t owe anyone my personal vote,” he objected. “If a party picks a bad candidate, they’re throwing my vote away.” In his view, Obama and Romney are just that: bad candidates. Instead, Cromarty will be voting for Johnson, who he called “the only rational candidate that I’ve found so far.”

Cromarty stressed that “libertarianism is, first and foremost, a philosophy,” not a political party; however, this being an election year, many libertarian’s eyes are on Johnson. On Monday, the former governor will speak to NYU students in Kimmel, where he’ll be joined by Jesse Ventura, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Lisa Kennedy, and Kristin Davis (most known for her role as former governor Elliot Spitzer’s prostitute’s madame; lesser known for running for governor of New York in 2010 on an “Anti-Prohibition” platform).

Despite the big names on campus, supporters of Stein and Johnson may have a hard time winning over student voters. Since 2000, third-party candidates have gotten a bad rap for the “spoiler effect.” That’s what politicos call it when a third-party candidate pulls votes from a mainstream candidate, allowing the opponent to win. It’s also what many say happened in Florida in 2000, where the nearly 100,000 votes won by Nader far outweighed the 537 votes by which Bush defeated Gore. Political scientists have debated Nader’s effect on the election ever since, but the myth perseveres.

As a third-party voter, Kopf expects to remain part of a small minority for some time. “Given the framework of our representative government, changes are exceedingly large that it will forever remain a battleground for two major players,” he said. Still, he remains hopeful: “I’d really like to see the era of more robust third parties again in American politics.”

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    7 Comments

  1. Aristo O. says

    Those reasonings in the first paragraph are a little scary and immature. I hope they enjoy their weed a lot, because Libertarianism is a horribly reactionary and impractical form of governing for anything else.

  2. says

    Thanks for your comment, Aristo. I hope I didn’t give the impression that these student’s goals are “immature.” As I indicated, I found most students who expressed their intent to vote third party to be very well informed and articulate – in fact, more so that the average student. The quotes in my lede came from an exercise in which students were introducing themselves to a large group. It shouldn’t be taken to be a formal expression of the libertarian philosophy or a representation of the Libertarian party platform.

  3. Raymond Agnew says

    First Off The Libertarian Party is on the ballot in 49 States & Washington D.C. & In Oklahoma Libertarians are forced to run as Independents & The Gov. Johnson . Judge Jim Gray Presidential Ticket was Nominated By The Americans Elect Party of Oklahoma & Has just lost there Oklahoma Superme Court Ruling to Regain Their Top Of The Ticket Ballot Status But This Can Still Be Apealed In Federal District Court To Regain Their Ballot Status as a Political Party for their POTUS Ticket. & In Michigan The Libertarian Party is on the Ballot from VP on Down The Totalitarian Mit Romney GOP Rinopublican Party is just trying to keep Gov. Johnson off the ballot 7 this is now in Federal District Court on an Apeal & In Pennsylvania The LP of PA Has won our 1st Callenge in State Court by a 2 – 1 Ruling & The Tyrannical Mittens Romney PAGOP is Apealing That Ruling up to the next higher Court In Pennsylvania to try an Knock My Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania off the ballot that would be all of our Candidates for Federal, State & Locol Elected Public Offices. Now as to the person that called us Libertarian Party Members DRUG ADDICTS FU Dude I Am a 20 year member of the LP & I don’t do drugs WE ARE Constitutionalists & I’ve heard that SMEAR FOR 20 Years Now !!! That is pure Establishmentarian Slander from the Globalists that does not work anymore for We The People Have Had ENOUGH From The Totalitarian Tyrannical R&D One Party System & Want To End The Empire & The Natioal Security Police State & We Want To Restore Our Republic & Our Liberty & Our Free Enterprise System & End The Feudalist Totalitarian One Party Systen Owned & Controlled By The Tyrannical Globalist Banking Cartel !!! LIVE FREE YOU ARE LIBERTARIAN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! REGISTER & JOIN & VOTE LIBERTARIAN FOR FREEDOMS SAKE!!!!

  4. Raymond Agnew says

    Gov. Gary Johnson Libertarian—- ” The Government Today Is The Direct Result Of Your Choosing The Corrupt Lesser For Generations !” John Adams—- ” THE VOTE FOR FREEDOM IS NEVER WASTED ” Thomas Jefferson—- ” All Tyranny Needs To Gain A Foothold Is For People Of Good Conscience To Remain Silent.”

  5. says

    Though it’s clear Ms. Simpson was being hyperbolic, her reasons for supporting Libertarianism (or at least being interested enough in the philosophy to attend our first meeting) are hardly “immature.”

    The crackdown on cannabis is futile (and hypocritical when you consider the fact that we allow drugs like alcohol and chemically-laced tobacco to kill hundreds of thousands of people a year). Her opinion that the government should have no say over who she choses to have a relationship with is so sensical it’s sad that we’re still debating it. Her desire to be allowed to make her own decisions and be left to deal with the consequences (i.e. be responsible for her own actions) is a message most parents would be proud for their children to espouse.

    Libertarianism is hardly reactionary. The fact that they’re perhaps amongst the most anti-war, anti-discriminatory, pro-immigration parties out there suggests that they are quite the opposite: while the Republicans and Democrats rattle sabers and scapegoat minorities depending on the politics of the day, Libertarians send a single message with surprising consistency: personal freedom, personal responsibility, and equality under the law.

  6. says

    I’ll be voting for the nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party – the longtime actor and activist Roseanne Barr. Barr is on the PFP ticket with noted anti-war warrior, Cindy Sheehan.

  7. Will Cromarty says

    For any students interested in the NYU College Libertarians, we meet from 5-6 PM on Tuesday evenings in NYU’s Kimmel Building. We’ve rapidly outgrown our last two meeting rooms, so look at our Facebook Page/Group for location information.

    Whether you want to write for our publication, join our debate team, or simply enjoy the greatest intellectual discussion anywhere on campus, we’d love to see you at a meeting.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/collegelibertarians/
    https://www.facebook.com/CollegeLibertarians

    Best,
    Will Cromarty
    Chairman, NYU College Libertarians