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Charles Ballay, M.D., Libertarian, Regarding Third-Party Candidates and Presidents

As a Libertarian Presidential candidate, I frequently encounter a question that reflects a core concern among American voters: "How can a Libertarian president effectively function within the rigid framework of America's two-party system? Will you not be a lame duck from the outset?" To address this, we must look to historical precedents, notably Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860, not as a delusion of grandeur or “a wasted vote”, but as a realistic example of third-party evolution, success and necessity in American politics.

Historical Context: Abraham Lincoln and the Third-Party Emergence

The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 offered a crucial lesson in what was not only the potential of a third-party candidate, but the necessity and natural rise of them at a time of extreme political divisions and cultural shifts. Prior to 1856, U.S. politics was dominated by the Whigs and Democrats, but became fragmented primarily by several divisive stances on slavery at the time of westward expansion. The Democrats were split, North and South, in their nominations of candidates, and the Republican party (arising in 1856 as opposition to the spread of slavery westward) absorbed the anti-slavery Whigs and nominated Lincoln. The Constitutional Union Party quickly developed from most of the remaining Whigs as an “anti-extremist” stance to try blocking a Republican election. Lincoln was elected with only about 40% of the popular vote but secured a decisive victory in the Electoral College.

Lincoln's election was a testament to the opportunity for “third-party” candidates in a two-party nation, but also, and more importantly today, a lesson to learn about natural representation of the nation at a time of extreme divisions. When the two dominant parties become extremely polarized, the self-uniting nation can (and did) develop a new, stabilizing representation, formed from the fragments of the dominant two, and instantly becoming the ‘popular’ choice. The result could be a new three-party landscape, or a a new, two-party situation. Referencing Lincoln is not to draw a direct comparison to current parties and divisive issues as we approach 2024, but to remind us that the American political landscape is not static; it can, has, and will be reshaped, as needed.

The Case for a Libertarian Presidency in 2024

Are we that fragmented and divided today, to the point that a third party will organically rise to bridge division? We truly can't say we know until election day is over, so it is in our collective best interest to identify the party and candidate best suited for offering an alternative choice that we would consider more 'right' for our time than our Republican and Democrat options . As taught from the 1860 election, the most effective third-party candidate will promote stability, and will come from a party that has clear positioning, best exemplified today by the Libertarian party. Inspired by Lincoln's example, a Libertarian presidential candidate today can similarly navigate the complexities of the current two-party system and enact meaningful change. By adhering to Libertarian principles, the successfully elected president would offer a unique approach to governance that newly and more accurately represents the national needs and preferences:

  1. Individual Liberty and Limited Government: Upholding the Libertarian commitment to personal freedom and minimal government intervention, one would promote policies that enhance individual rights and reduce unnecessary governmental control.

  2. Economic Freedom and Free Markets: A Libertarian administration would champion free-market principles, working to reduce government interference in the economy and foster an environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship.

  3. Non-Interventionism in Foreign Policy: Embracing a stance of non-intervention, a Libertarian president would prioritize diplomacy and trade and avoid military engagements unless they are in direct defense of national interests.

Conclusion: A Divided Nation Will Elect a Stabilizing Third-Party Candidate

The prospect of a Libertarian president represents a significant departure from the current two-party dominance but is by no means a flight of fancy, or “a wasted vote”. Historical precedents, particularly Lincoln's presidency, illustrate that American politics can and has shifted in response to the emergence of third-party leadership, currently in the form of the Libertarian Party. A Libertarian presidency today would embody the principle that American politics is enriched and ultimately advanced by diverse and alternative perspectives. My candidacy is rooted in this belief — a Libertarian leader is needed in 2024 to guide our nation toward a future that repairs division, values liberty, fosters innovation, and embraces a more inclusive and dynamic political discourse.

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