Jo Jorgensen’s website crashed on the night of the first presidential debate.
People, perhaps tired of the fractured exchanges between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, were, apparently, searching for other options.
Jorgensen, who lives in South Carolina and is a lecturer at Clemson University, is running for president on the Libertarian Party’s ticket.
She wants to dramatically reduce the size of the federal government and make the United States “one giant Switzerland, armed and neutral.” In the unlikely event she’s elected president, Jorgensen said her first task will be to start bringing members of the military home.
Jorgensen was the Libertarian vice presidential candidate in 1996 and ran under the party’s banner for Congress in 1992.
Her campaign bus stopped at Independence Mall on Monday evening. She spoke to Metro earlier in the day.
The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Why did you decide to run for president?
Because government is too big, too bossy, too nosy, too intrusive, but the worst part is they usually end up hurting the very people that they try to help.
How has the government been hurting people recently?
For instance, the coronavirus. The FDA is there to help us and instead they created obstacles for us to get tested. In fact, I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes Trump made. There were dozens of kits that we could have used to get tested to find out who had the virus.
By the way, I think that being tested was key. South Korea diagnosed their first case within a day of us diagnosing ours, and they did widespread testing and they got ahead of the virus without a shutdown.
Meanwhile, we have to shut down our economy and lose tens of millions of jobs.
What would be your approach to handling the pandemic?
First, I would have gotten rid of the FDA obstacles that are supposedly there to help us but only got in the way. I would have gotten rid of those by executive order had I been president.
And, I would not have stood on stage with Dr. Fauci as Trump did and say you only need to get tested if you have symptoms. Because we knew at the time that over half the people with the virus showed no symptoms, so that’s when you need to get tested.
What steps would you take to kick-start the economy, which will likely still be hobbled by the pandemic?
I don’t expect this part to work, but I would at least ask that all the corporations and special interests that were given our money through the CARES Act, I would ask them to give it back because the government shouldn’t be picking the winners and losers.
I would not do any further CARES Act because, first of all, while Americans were happy, like ‘Yay, I’ve got a $1,200 check,’ they don’t realize that it didn’t come out of Donald Trump’s back pocket despite the fact that his name was on the check, that they’re the ones who are paying for it.
I would leave the money in the hands of the taxpayers and let them choose where to spend their money.
The president has cast some doubt on the electoral process. How confident are you that we’ll have a free and fair election in November given all of the constraints of the pandemic?
I’d say the biggest obstacle to a free and fair election is the fact that I was not included on the debate stage. I can’t tell you how many people I run into who say, ‘You mean Trump and Biden aren’t the only two running for office.’ I am on the ballot in all 50 states plus D.C., and there are so many people out there who don’t even know they have an option.
We have two people up there, both of whom want to spend your money, both of whom want to make decisions for you, neither of whom is going to do anything for the crushing healthcare costs and neither one is going to bring the troops home.
Had I been on the stage, I would have been the only alternative up there.
Prior to the pandemic, it seemed as if health care could be maybe the biggest issue for voters. What would the healthcare system look like under a President Jo Jorgensen?
The biggest problem with our healthcare system is insurance. Our insurance isn’t really insurance at all. In any other industry, insurance only pays for unexpected costs, and therefore it keeps costs down.
There’s nobody holding costs down.
The only way for them to increase their revenues is to every year hand out more claims so that the following year they can increase premiums, and that’s what’s going on. We’ve got a spiral.
If there was one message that I could get to every American, it would be that we do not have a free market healthcare system, and we haven’t had one in close to a hundred years.
The protests that followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of police rocked the country this summer. Do you support calls to defund police departments, and, if not, do you think there need to be any changes?
I think the federal government has far too much overreach into localities, and I think that’s part of the problem.
Crime — assault, robbery, burglary, whatever — that’s a local issue, and it should be decided among the police department, the mayor, city council, voters, taxpayers, whoever.
I think some of our escalation has been because the federal government has gotten involved. They’ve given out military equipment, whether tanks, tear gas, grenade launchers, whatever.
At the federal level, I would defund police because the federal government shouldn’t be involved with that anyway.
Some people, as I’m sure you know, say voting for a third party candidate is wasting your vote. I assume you disagree with that. Why should voters consider you?
Well, I would suggest that voting for what you don’t want is a wasted vote.
What I’ve been telling Trump supporters is: I completely understand why you voted for Trump. He came in as an outsider, said I’m a businessman, I know how to balance the budget and cut the spending. Instead, we’ve got a deficit increase that’s higher even than Obama’s. We’ve got an increased debt.
After Donald Trump’s increase in spending, I would say that anybody who says they’re voting Republican for smaller government, they’re just not keeping up with the news.
To the Democrats, I say, I just think the Democratic Party should be ashamed of itself.
I see them looking out and seeing which way the wind blows, how they can get votes, and then that’s what they say. If you want somebody who really is anti-war, who really is for the little guy, vote for the Libertarian at all levels.