Austin Petersen makes the “boy president” John F. Kennedy seem like an elder statesman. Petersen wasn’t even eligible to run when he announced his candidacy for the Libertarian Party’s Presidential Nomination (he’s since turned 35 and is fully eligible). As the first “millennial” candidate, Petersen believes he can not only attract young voters, but others across the political spectrum.
“I believe I can bring in not just libertarian voters, but I think I can bring in conservative voters and I think I can bring in social democratic voters because I embody those principles of economic freedom and personal liberty,” Petersen said.
Petersen does believe opponents Gary Johnson and John McAfee have a slight advantage in executive experience, having both run large businesses and in Johnson’s case, the New Mexico State Government for two four-year terms.
“It does put me at a disadvantage,” said Petersen, “but obviously my campaign slogan is I want to take over the government to leave people alone. So, the idea is not that I want to run things. I just want to let people run their own lives. So, do you really need to have been a former software billionaire or a former governor in order to be President of the United States? I would submit ‘no.’ If so, the founding fathers should have put that in the Constitution.”
Petersen believes he can distinguish himself as a voice or reason in the general election, even in a year where an angry electorate has seemed to prefer populist bomb-throwing over calm, intellectual messages.
“Honestly, when you put three ducks in a row and one of these kids is doing their own thing, sometimes the voice of reason wins out. And that’s simply because when there’s so much cacophony and noise, and background noise, sometimes a small, quiet voice can be heard,” said Petersen.
Like many of his opponents, Petersen faces almost as tough a challenge in winning the Libertarian Nomination as he would in the general election. Libertarians are known to be strict on ideological purity and Petersen has challenged the central libertarian principle of non-aggression as a guiding principle for government power.
“I’m willing to take even the most sacred cows and slaughter them for all to see, because I really kind of actually enjoy that,” quipped Petersen. He argues that children, for example, have positive rights and the non-aggression principle doesn’t adequately ensure them.
Outside the theoretical world, however, Petersen’s positions line up pretty closely to those of his opponents, any of which he said he would support if he were not to win the nomination.
You can watch the full video interview below. More information on Petersen’s campaign can be found at austinpetersen2016.com.
The final debate before the delegates vote for the nomination is tonight (Saturday May 28) at 8:00 PM EDT and will be carried live on CSPAN, Reason.com and several other media.