Minnesota Libertarian Presidential Debate Recap

The Minnesota Libertarian Presidential Candidate Forum held in conjunction with the state party’s convention received a large turnout at the Cambria Suites Hotel in Maple Grove on Saturday, April 16th.  Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Jonson, and Kentucky Pastor Shawna Sterling were the two candidates participating in the forum.  Marc Feldman, the other candidate expected to participate was unable to do so due to transportation issues.

Johnson was the Libertarian Presidential Nominee in 2012, and is the favorite to win the nomination again in 2016. Although Sterling was on the stage with Johnson, she lacks name recognition and failed to perform well in Minnesota’s Libertarian Presidential Caucus on March 1st. The other two candidates who are viewed by some to have a chance at winning the party’s nomination are anti-virus entrepreneur, John McAfee and founder of The Libertarian Republic, Austin Petersen.

Johnson showed why he is the party’s front-runner early on in the forum, relying on his optimistic message that points to his record as a conservative governor and his successes as a business owner. “I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life,” said Johnson, then proceeded to explain how he brought “common sense business principles” to New Mexico’s state government.

Throughout the entirety of the debate Johnson portrayed himself as a fiscal hawk. He argued for a balanced budget, a 20% decrease in federal spending, and the lessening of the tax burden on the American people. “Let’s eliminate income tax, let’s eliminate corporate tax, if that doesn’t create tens of millions of jobs, I don’t know what will,” said Johnson. In addition, Johnson insists on a 20% decrease in military spending and would realign the military to be defense focused, boldly asserting: “Let’s spend millions on defense, but not a penny on empire.”

He was charismatic, likable, and most importantly, demonstrated competency on the issues affecting the nation. Touching on his record as governor, as well as his vision of limited government and liberty, Johnson generated audience applause on numerous occasions.

Like Johnson, Shawna Sterling had voiced well-articulated arguments as well. Sterling pointed out that her top priorities as President would be to focus on reigning in the power of the federal government “that is full of criminals,” and abolish all programs not permitted by the U.S. Constitution. Conveying herself as a strict constitutionalist, Sterling spent most of the debate asserting that the federal government needs to “lessen its power grip on the American people.”

Sterling contends that the nation needs to get rid of the federal minimum wage, abolish unneeded programs, cut unneeded military spending, and even tackle social security, arguing that we should “wean individuals off” the programs.

Her strongest argument came while discussing corruption in government.  Sterling argued that criminals have “infiltrated” our government, and that average Americans have no chance to represent the people as elected officials on the federal level due to billionaires “buying” elections.

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