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Libertarians Name 2020 Candidate: Meet Jo Jorgensen


The Libertarian Party has nominated their candidates for president and vice president online. Jo Jorgensen, a party activist who teaches psychology at Clemson University, is the 2020 Libertarian candidate for president. She joins us now from Greenville, S.C. Dr. Jorgensen, thanks so much for being with us.

JO JORGENSEN: Oh, pleasure's all mine. And, please, Jo is fine. Thank you.

SIMON: You've been critical of the federal government's response to the coronavirus crisis. What would a Libertarian administration do?

JORGENSEN: Well, the Libertarian administration first wouldn't have put everybody under house arrest. We believe in individual freedom and that people should be able to go about their lives as they choose. And I'd like to point out that part of the problem that we had is that people weren't tested to know if they were contagious or not, if they had the virus or not. If people who had the virus knew they had the virus, then they would have been able to know to stay home or not go about their daily lives. But the people who are healthy or who have already had the flu let the economy go on and don't destroy the economy in the process.

SIMON: I want to follow up on your use of the phrase house arrest. I doubt any governor or mayor who declared that people should stay at home would consider that to be house arrest.

JORGENSEN: People who want to go out and go about their daily business felt like it. And in fact, I know here in South Carolina, I was told I could only leave the house to go to work, medical emergencies and other things. And within my city, if there were more than three people outside, then there was a possibility that we would either be fined $100 or that we would go to jail.

SIMON: But isn't - in the middle of a pandemic, isn't that just wise?

JORGENSEN: Of course, it's wise to stay at home during a pandemic, especially if you've got other conditions. My problem, though, is that the government is the one who decided it and not the individual person. And in fact, when they did a survey - what? - maybe about a month ago and they asked people, should we be opening up the economy, something like 60 to 80% of the people said no, it's too soon. We should still stay at home. OK, so that just shows that people have enough common sense to stay at home without the government telling them to.

SIMON: There are now more than 40 million unemployed people in the United States. You have opposed, I gather, the stimulus bills that have been passed to provide unemployment benefits and other forms of relief. Why?

JORGENSEN: Because what we're doing is we're letting the bureaucrats spend the money how they want to. And it's going to the large corporations and not often to the people who need it. So I say that private charity always works best. What happens when you give money to the government, and let's say they don't spend it wisely? Nothing happens. Taxes get raised, but it's not like people get fired. There is absolutely no accountability. And one of the things that brought me into the Libertarian Party is the idea of voluntary cooperation, of how people working together can do a better job.

SIMON: But when 40 million people are unemployed virtually at once, I mean, how can you begin to raise the amount of charitable capital? Particularly, by the way, I believe one of the stories we keep doing is that individual donations are way down because 40 million people are out of work.

JORGENSEN: Right. Well, don't forget, if the government hadn't shut down the economy, people wouldn't have lost their jobs in the first place. So this is typical where the government breaks your leg and then thinks that you should be grateful that you're getting a crutch from them. If the government doesn't break your leg to begin with, you don't need the crutch.

SIMON: I've got to ask you about your running mate. His name is Spike Cohen. He calls himself an anarchist. He says he's running to troll the system. He has a platform that promises, as I understand it, free ponies and a Waffle House on every corner.

JORGENSEN: I believe you are reciting the presidential platform of one of my competitors who lost, and Spike is now on my team. And so no, that's not our platform.

SIMON: Well, it's not your platform. You mean - are you saying Spike Cohen never said that?

JORGENSEN: What I'm saying is now that Spike Cohen has joined my team, we've got a combined platform that is mine.

SIMON: Well, I assume that, you know, Waffle House in every corner and free ponies was always a kind of joke.

JORGENSEN: Yes, it was.

SIMON: I want to appreciate jokes.

JORGENSEN: Yes (laughter).

SIMON: But, I mean, all of that being said, is this a person, should you be elected, prepared to be president of the United States?

JORGENSEN: Absolutely, it was a joke campaign, and absolutely, it was to get attention. And all I can say is I am a college senior lecturer. And I am more qualified than either Trump or Biden to run this country.

SIMON: Why? How?

JORGENSEN: Most people are realizing that government has gotten too big, and they would like some of that control back. When people are given the freedom and the liberty to live how they want to, they work hard. When they are cynical and basically all of their money goes to the government, they lose motivation. We're just headed in that direction, and that's what concerns me.

SIMON: Jo Jorgensen, the 2020 Libertarian candidate for president, thanks so much for being with us.

JORGENSEN: Well, thank you for having me. This was great being on. I appreciate it.

(SOUNDBITE OF BILLBAND'S "ORIGINAL BLEND") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.