A drive-in protest along W. 27th Street and Broadway to get the libertarian presidential candidate into national debates is scheduled for Saturday morning.
The protest in Scottsbluff will coincide with a national Libertarian protest called “Let Her Speak,” referring to the perceived snubbing of Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen in presidential debates.
The Saturday protest was organized by Jacob Astbury, a Marine veteran and now a student at Western Nebraska Community College. The national protest was organized by Kasie Dailey in Pearland, Texas, a suburb of Houston.
“We need to get libertarianism out of the computer, out of the internet and into the community,” Dailey told the Star-Herald.
She said one of the event’s goals is to grow awareness of the Libertarian party with non-voters and independent voters.
“You can’t really reach those people without getting out into the community,” Dailey said.
Dailey said she initially planned the event as a march, but renewed spikes of COVID-19 in her area and across the country shifted the plan, which now boasts 116 events with over 2,000 participants according to Astbury.
“It’s a libertarian thing,” Dailey said. “If you give people the structure, and the resource and then get out of their way, libertarians will just do it.”
Dailey also works in marketing in Texas. Presidential debates in the U.S. are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a non-profit 501(c)(3) run by former party officials, such as former U.S. senators and others. The Commission on Presidential Debates, or CPD, has produced every presidential debate since George H.W Bush beat former Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1988.
To debate, candidates must rein in at least 15% of the electorate according to public polls. They must also appear on enough state ballots and be legally eligible to run for president in the U.S.
“History teaches that it is speculative at best to assume that the leading candidates would agree to share the stage with candidates enjoying only scant public support,” CPD’s website said.
This weekend’s protest isn’t the first time the organization has taken fire for not being non-partisan. In 2012, three corporate sponsors pulled out of their deals after the CPD said Libertarian and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson could not participate in the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debates.
In 2002, the CPD apologized for not allowing Green Party candidate Ralph Nader to debate George W Bush and Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. As the rules stand, only Joe Biden and Donald Trump will be allowed to debate in the fall and have access to spread their message unfiltered to the millions of Americans watching. Meanwhile, Jorgensen will have to watch from home.
“I do believe that if we got her on to the national debate stage, in front of millions of Americans — and she was up there with Donald Trump and Joe Biden — I think we’d have a real shot at winning the election,” Astbury said.
Jorgensen was nominated by her party last month. She’s a senior lecturer of psychology at Clemson University and a long-time party activist. Her political platform relies on drastically shrinking the federal government, including eliminating the Department of Education and allowing Americans to opt-out of Social Security, to name a few.
Jorgensen faces a herculean climb to the White House, but organizers Dailey and Astbury said winning in 2020 is less important than being heard. “I’d say that wasting your vote is voting for someone that you don’t believe in,” Astbury said. The protesters will gather in the Home Depot parking lot on Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
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