Why Austin Petersen is the Future of the Libertarian Party

He’s my pick for 2020

By: Elias J. Atienza

The CNN Libertarian Town Hall was not spectacular. While Gary Johnson and Bill Weld did their best, Johnson’s speaking skills were sub-par and Weld contradicted Johnson on at least one occasion. But there was a bright spot in yesterday’s coverage.

Austin Petersen, TLR’s founder and the runner-up in the LP presidential race, was on CNN where he concisely articulated an argument for Governor Johnson and libertarianism.

“I think it’s important for voters to understand that we may have some opinions a little outside the mainstream, a libertarian president would govern under the laws of the land, under the Constitution, and that they would not overstep the power of the executive branch,” Petersen said on CNN.

I have had my disagreements with Petersen. After initially rooting for him, I changed my mind and decided to support Johnson. Most of my criticisms were about Petersen’s lack of professionalism and petty attacks, but he has drastically changed from the days of calling Gary Johnson a drug dealer.

Petersen is the future of the party. He’s 35 years old and yet managed to get 2nd place and remain relevant. He’s still young and energetic, unlike Gary Johnson and John McAfee. As a younger man, he has a viewpoint that is much different from the old guard of the Libertarian Party and understands where young people come from.

His use of technology changed the face of the LP race. His livestreams gathered tens of thousands of viewers and spread libertarianism amongst a new audience. He speaks well. While some accuse him of speaking in bumper speakers, his interview with CNN shows he is able to articulate libertarian principles and arguments with ease.

As Rick Montgomery observed in the Kansas City Star:“Besides holding the technological keys to building an audience, Petersen represents a type of national candidate who could find success down the road among certain millennials. ”

His views, while more radical than Johnson’s, align with many dissident conservatives and liberals. His philosophy of minarchism is much more palatable to myself and many Americans than state worship or anarchy. He was able to galvanize a grassroots campaign, despite being practically unknown until a year ago.

Petersen defeated himself in the early stages of the race in 2016. But he has learned from his mistakes and transformed into a candidate who is ready to lead the Libertarian Party in the next presidential race. He won’t have the same opportunities that Gary Johnson had in 2016, as people like Justin Amash have expressed interest in running for President.

It is going to be interesting to see the presidential race in 2020. Petersen, if he does run, will be a frontrunner and the likely nominee. If we don’t have a Republican president and Amash runs, many libertarians will support him in the primary, as they did with Ron Paul and Rand Paul. Likewise Rand Paul and Ted Cruz could launch campaigns, no doubt capturing some libertarian support.

But nevertheless, with livestreams and the technological edge, Austin Petersen is ready for 2020. Johnson’s campaign will set the future course for the LP and how well they do in the coming years.

But that future is Petersen.





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