Jorgensen, currently a psychology lecturer at Clemson University, was the Libertarian Party’s 1996 vice presidential nominee, running mate of the late Harry Browne. In 1992, she ran for Congress in her native South Carolina.
Below are the questions (with a link to the specific reader comment before each) along with Jorgensen’s responses.
IPR Reader: What has been the extent of your involvement in the LP since your VP run in ’96?
Jo Jorgensen: Obviously, it’s been more in the background than my VP run! It’s difficult to grab a spotlight that’s larger than being on the national ticket. I’ve served as a delegate to several national conventions. I take that job very seriously, spending pretty much the entire day, gavel-to-gavel, at my seat in the delegation. A few people stopped by in 2018 and joked about my being “incognito,” being seated in my delegation, with one guy saying, “Hey, I know who you really are – you can’t hide here!”
I’ve attended state executive committee meetings in our state capital of Columbia (a full day for me for each meeting, since the drive is over 200 miles round trip), and recently helped reorganize our local county party. I haven’t played an administrative role, however, as I have in the past, such as when I served as Vice-Chair of the state party or Chair of the Greenville County LP. I decided my skills are better suited to outreach as a candidate.
My best friend and I laughed for many years afterward about our first attempt to organize our county. I took on the role of Chair and she took on the role of Vice-Chair for a county that was no longer organized or having meetings. We put all our effort and our personal funds into having an open-house welcoming meeting to get things started, only to realize the day before that we had chosen Super Bowl Sunday for our grand event! Needless to say, no one showed. So now I leave the organizing to astute planners who think ahead about things like major football games.
Reader: Other than Harry Browne, which of the LP’s past presidential candidates do you admire and why, and are there any you’d care to name who really missed the mark?
Jorgensen: I would never name a candidate who missed the mark, because I know how hard it is to campaign!
Even though your question specifically says, “Other than Harry Browne,” I really must give him a shout-out. It’s his campaign that I’m trying to emulate, both in his goals and his philosophy. I’m going after membership, and not just votes, and I am presenting a practical message while not sacrificing principal.
I also admire Ed Clark and David Bergland. They were both calm, reasonable, and rational. Any American voter listening to them would say, “Yeah, that makes perfect sense! That’s the kind of America I want to live in.”
One of my favorite libertarian messages of all time was given by Ed Clark. When asked if he thought he had a chance of winning, he replied that if he had the chance to sit down with every American family around the table in their kitchen and explained libertarianism, he would win by a landslide.
Last summer, while preparing for the campaign and debates, I reread David Bergland’s “Libertarianism in One Lesson.” What a classic! It is short, yet clearly explains our entire message. I particularly like his idea that “There are two, and only two, ways for people to deal with each other. One way is by force, the other is by voluntary cooperation.” Doesn’t that pretty much sum it up?
Reader: Also, your Twitter bio says “avid hockey player.” When do we get to see some pics of that?
Jorgensen: After they open the rink back up! No, it’s not closed because of the virus – it was already closed for remodeling when the virus hit. I only hope that they are continuing to work on it during the quarantine.
I love hockey! Years after my 1996 campaign, I was the only woman in an “over 40” league that played every Wednesday evening at 10 p.m. Unfortunately, I haven’t been as avid recently as I used to be.
I’ve had some injuries slow me down, and some insurance issues. I can relate to the American people on that issue – I went for several years (2005-ish) without insurance, so gave up hockey during that time. It would’ve been tough to cover the health care bills. In the early 1990s, I got high-sticked and had to get my nose fixed by a plastic surgeon. The bone was sticking out of the side of my nose, making it painful to wear sunglasses. Good thing I didn’t need regular glasses at the time.
Most recently, I was injured from a fall on the ice in January 2018, after not skating for a while (knee and shoulder surgery). Just started playing again every week when I attended the 2018 Convention, which led to my decision to run for the presidential nomination. Needless to say, no time for hockey when you’re running for President.
Maybe we need to change the bio to “avid hockey player when not running for office!” After the election, I expect to be back on the ice within a week. I’ve got an additional reason to – my grandson who will be 2 years old this fall. My daughter is just dreading the idea of my taking him out on the ice, but I’ve been working on her for a few years now (even before he was born!), so I think she’ll give in.
Reader: What do you think the Libertarian Party should do to nominate a presidential candidate, given the problems with the traditional type of convention set for next month?
Jorgensen: I very much prefer in-person conventions – in addition to getting to meet everyone, I can get feedback from the delegates and members. I don’t think we have that luxury, though, this year. We can’t afford to lose ballot access, so we need to nominate someone before we can all come together at a national convention. Also, every week we spend debating each other is one more week we don’t have a chosen candidate to spread the message of liberty.
Waiting to select the presidential ticket to an in-person convention in July would give me more time to build support and probably help me win the nomination. However, we need to do what’s best for the party, which is choosing our ticket as scheduled, May 22-24.
Reader: To what extent should the president and federal government intervene to secure individual rights in light of potentially unconstitutional state and local government actions?
Jorgensen: Of course, I don’t want to see a lot of power in either entity. Ideally, we would have a small federal government limited to what’s outlined in the constitution (my goal if elected), and the very small federal government would only step into state matters in cases where a state violated the constitution.
Yes, we need the federal government to step in when states are taking away rights. Unfortunately, it typically does the opposite. In a recent podcast I mentioned how Elizabeth Dole, while head of the Department of Transportation, bribed states with their own money to raise the drinking age to 21. (Of course, the states themselves didn’t give the money to the federal government – the citizens of the states paid that money in taxes.) So here’s one example of many in which the federal government, instead of securing individual rights, instead takes them away.
We’ve heard a lot of threats from politicians in Virginia trying to take away the right of the people to own guns. The Second Amendment is an important tool for safeguarding our inalienable right to keep and bear arms. What we have now, though, is a federal government who is itself destroying individual rights, so I don’t have much hope for them in doing the right thing. This is exactly why we need libertarians in office at the state, local, and federal level!
Reader: Would you consider being part of a ticket with another libertarian who has been a party member for many years? Specifically, would you consider Jacob Hornberger for a running mate?
Jorgensen: I’ll gladly accept any VP who the delegates choose to run with me, including Jacob Hornberger.
Reader: What role, if any, does the federal government have in securing public health and combating the spread of communicable diseases?
Jorgensen: Government has a track record of using crises, including the threat of infection, to expand government power and curtail liberty. In the case of COVID-19, government regulations prevented private companies from quickly responding to the pandemic. The FDA and CDC kept us from getting test kits, personal protective equipment, and ventilators when they were needed. Certificates of need created an artificial shortage of intensive care beds.
This has been an unprecedented assault on our fundamental freedom, limiting both our personal and economic liberty. We know only too well that whenever government expands its power to combat some crisis, it never relinquishes that power when the crisis is past.
Instead of speculating what how government might combat the spread of communicable diseases, let’s get them out of the way so that the full power of the free market and individual ingenuity can be turned loose on these threats.
Reader: Do you agree with Jacob Hornberger’s assessment of Justin Amash as discussed in his five part series, “Justin Amash, LP interloper?”
Jorgensen: I have not read any of his writings on Justin Amash. As a candidate, my reading consists of current events and updates on libertarian solutions to problems (such as advances in nuclear technology) and reading scholarly books such as those authored by the folks at Cato. The most recent one I read is “The Inclusive Economy” by Michael Tanner.
Reader: Should the criminalization of sex work be discussed in the campaign in the context of other victimless crimes or is there some reason to exclude or minimize its part in that?
Jorgensen: Since I’ve been consistently including sex work when discussing victimless crimes throughout the campaign, clearly the answer is yes. In fact, it was included in the very first video my campaign released, dealing with victimless crimes.
Reader: If elected President, would you give Presidential Pardons to Ross Ulbricht & Chelsea Manning? Why or Why not?
Jorgensen: I would give Presidential Pardons to anyone convicted solely of a victimless-crime. This specifically includes whistleblowers like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning. Ross Ulbricht’s “crimes” all relate to victimless offenses, so he too should be pardoned.