The Daily Gamecock

Clemson senior lecturer Jo Jorgensen running for president under Libertarian Party

Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen stands with a microphone in her hand.
Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen stands with a microphone in her hand.

The 2020 Libertarian Party nominee is Jo Jorgensen, a Greenville, South Carolina, resident and senior lecturer at Clemson. 

Since the solidification of the two-party system, no third-party candidate has ever won a national election, but, if elected, Jorgensen said she hopes to get the government out of dealing with student loans, eliminate the Department of Education and, overall, create a more free market government.

Jorgensen has been teaching at Clemson since 2006. She ran for representative of South Carolina's 4th Congressional District in 1992 and ran for vice president in 1996. Now, she's running for president under the Libertarian Party.

"Libertarians are on your side," Jorgensen said. "Libertarians believe that you can spend your money better and make better decisions than any bureaucrat or special interest in Washington can.” 

This approach to the economy is exactly why fourth-year advertising student Zach Justice supports Jorgensen. Justice said he was "in total agreement" with Jorgensen's views on the economy.

"The way she approaches dealing with the economy, it's a very free market approach," Justice said. "Really allowing the people in the United States to do whatever they want to."

Another platform point of Jorgensen's is that the federal government is responsible for the student debt crisis.

“When people ask me why I’m running for president, I tell them it’s because government is too big, too bossy, too nosy, too intrusive; but the worst part is, they usually hurt the very people they're trying to help,” Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen earned a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology in 2002 and obtained a master's in social work from USC in 2017. Jorgensen said she "couldn't believe" how much the price for college had increased since she received her Ph.D.

According to an article by CNBC, tuition at four-year public colleges increased by an average of 37% from 2008 to 2018.

Jorgensen said she believes the government and the Department of Education have caused tuition prices to increase faster than almost any other commodity. To solve this, Jorgensen wants to eliminate the Department of Education, claiming on her campaign site it has "utterly failed to provide our children the opportunities to thrive." In turn, Jorgensen hopes to return the control of education to parents, teachers and students, according to the site.

Next, Jorgensen would keep the government out of student loans. According to her campaign site, Jorgensen sees the governmental loan program as "predatory."

Jorgensen said she does not support free college tuition because people who go to college tend to make more money, and it isn't fair to have lower-income workers pay for their education.

"If you're going to make more money over your lifetime, then you should be the one paying for it," Jorgensen said.

However, Jorgensen said student loans should be bankruptable. Student loans can be wiped out when declaring bankruptcy, but you have to prove that repaying student loans has caused "undue hardship," a higher bar than other forms of debt.

According to visiting assistant professor in the political science department Chase Meyer, third parties have almost no chance to win the presidency.

"I cannot fathom a situation where a third-party candidate can actually win to be president under our current election laws," Meyer said.

Historically, no third-party candidate has ever won a national election. The last time one did well during an election was in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt ran third party to run against the Republican nominee, William Taft. As a result, Woodrow Wilson was elected president thanks to a split Republican vote.

According to Meyer, the 2016 election was the perfect storm for the Libertarian Party because it had two of the most unpopular general election candidates. However, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, still only gained about 3% of the popular vote.

However, the odds of winning don't scare Justice away from supporting Jorgensen, he said.

"They can never win if you don't give them a chance," Justice said. "If you have someone that you agree with and that you support, I would say, 'Vote for that person.'"

With the election on Tuesday, Jorgensen said she is feeling energized and happy, but she is looking forward to taking some days off after.