Libertarian executive nominees attend Salisbury Pride Festival

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 26, 2024

SALISBURY — A Gallup poll from last year revealed that 63 percent of U.S. adults agree with the statement that the two major American political parties do such a poor job of representing the country’s citizens that a third major party is needed.

On Saturday, a man attempting to answer that call was among the faces at the Salisbury Pride Festival. Chase Oliver is the Libertarian nominee for president. He is young, 38, and openly gay.

“We are happy to be at the Salisbury Pride event because the Libertarian party since its founding in 1971 has been pro-LGBTQ in terms of marriage rights, adoption rights, military service and really anywhere the government interacts with our community we believe in equality under the law,” Oliver said. “I think it’s important to travel to communities especially during Pride Month to let that message be heard.”

Oliver pointed to the intimate setting of a small-town Pride Festival for putting him face to face with prospective voters. 

“Salisbury is a wonderful community (this festival is more of a) community-based Pride versus a giant metro thing where there is so much going on,” Oliver said. “This allows for a lot of great conversations with voters, who maybe want to hear something outside the two-party system.”

Coincidentally, it was at a Pride Festival, where Oliver was introduced to the Libertarian Party. Since joining the group, Oliver was the candidate for the 2022 United States Senate election in Georgia and the 2020 Georgia’s 5th congressional district special election.

In the 2022 Georgia special United States Senate election, Oliver received over 2 percent of the popular vote.

While Oliver is 38, he will turn 39 on Election Day. He sees that youth as a strength versus a weakness. 

“That is half Donald Trump’s age and less than half of Joe Biden’s,” Oliver said. 

Ultimately, his strongest pitch is not his age, but rather the Libertarian values he espouses.

“Libertarians believe in the non-aggression principle,” Oliver said. “Despite our personal beliefs, we don’t seek to use the government to push those upon people. That allows for real diversity in our culture that we are not seeing when the government tries to push one way or the other. 

“My elevator pitch is this, if you are not hurting anybody committing fraud or violence, theft or coercion, your life is your life, your body is your body and your business is your business. It’s not mine and it’s not the government’s. I am hoping to share that message with a lot of voters who have not heard it before. At the end of the day, if you are not hurting anybody there should be no reason why the government has to interfere with the most local governance which is your self governance.”

Oliver acknowledged that it would not be easy to take on the entrenched power systems in the country, but that could not stop him from trying.

“As we earn more votes we can start earning more ballot access and things that will make it easier to challenge the two party system at the ballot,” Oliver said. “The most important thing we can do to challenge the two party system at the ballot is change the way we vote with ranked choice voting or approval voting or anything that is not plurality voting.

“Right now we have a system where someone can get elected with less than half the vote and get elected to represent 100 percent of the population. With ranked choice voting or approval voting that doesn’t really exist.”

According to Ballotpedia, a ranked-choice voting system (RCV) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. 

In instant-runoff voting, if a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. Ballots that ranked a failed candidate as their first, or highest choice, depending on the round, are then reevaluated and counted as first-preference ballots for the next highest ranked candidate in that round. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of ballots. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.

According to Ballotpedia, approval voting is an electoral system in which voters may vote for any number of candidates they choose. The candidate receiving the most votes wins. Approval voting may be used in single-winner systems and multi-winner systems.

Having the leading Libertarian in North Carolina was all the incentive that Libertarian candidate for N.C. governor, Mike Ross, needed to make the trek to Salisbury on the campaign trail. 

“We had a pretty unique opportunity to have our presidential candidate, Chase Oliver, come out here,” Ross said. “And, you know, it’s an opportunity to meet with voters. The way I see it is the Libertarians have been pro-LGBT rights and marriage since our founding over 50 years ago, too. So an opportunity to come out here and meet voters, spend some time with Chase, talk to the people of Salisbury as a gubernatorial candidate, I thought, hey, this is great.”

Ross’s background ranges the political spectrum, as he navigated those waters in his efforts to find a party to represent his values. Originally, from Broward County in Florida, he now lives in Charlotte. 

Like Oliver, Ross believes in keeping politics close to home. 

“I’m a big believer in localizing politics,” Ross said. “We’ve over the last 100 or so years been centralizing power at the federal and state government to the point where, you know, in our local municipal elections, we have abysmal turnout.”

Ross pointed to those elections as integral in day-to-day life, despite the low turnout routinely seen during those times. 

A financial planner by trade, Ross, knows the numbers are statistically stacked against his party. 

“We run to win, right, but they are big winners that Libertarians have pushed from, you know, LGBT rights, right?” Ross said. “We’ve been we’ve been pro gay marriage since the party’s founding. And you know, when Obama was elected, he still wasn’t there. Pushing the issue, eventually, the Republicans and Democrats realized this, Libertarians are talking about this policy that’s really popular with people. Maybe we need to hop on board.

Ross added that what he is trying to do in North Carolina is defend what he called the garden issues. 

“If you want to send the brave men and women in North Carolina overseas to war, that’s fine,” Ross said. “Do it the right way, the way the Constitution requires, declare war, because the reality is, we get hit with hurricanes in this state, we need our national guard when emergencies pop up. 

“If we’re deploying them overseas to be world police with no congressional approval, we’re really hurting our communities by taking that valuable resource away for something that we really have no business doing if we’re not willing to declare war constitutional.”