Libertarian voter says he’s frustrated Jo Jorgensen was shut out of presidential debates

‘They don’t want us to play in their sandbox. It’s like the small kid at a football huddle trying to get in to hear what the play is. It’s done intentionally’

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 23 October 2020 18:44 BST

Polarized is a weekly series featuring voters in all 50 states sharing their thoughts on the 2020 elections. Click here to read more from this project.

Byron Hobson says his mother forced him to vote once he turned 18, even though it was the last thing he wanted to do.

“I have never been a Republican or Democrat,” he says. “I’m done with the Federalists and have been since before I could vote.”

The 45-year-old resident of Wilmington, Delaware is a proud member of the Libertarian Party, having volunteered for presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen’s campaign when she visited the state earlier this month. He recalled when he first began identifying with the third party in a recent interview with The Independent.

“I grew up in a Democratic family, and my mom is very outspoken,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t want to go vote. My mom forced me to. She sad, ‘It’s your civic duty!’”

But Hobson, who now owns his own therapeutic massage company, says he doesn’t believe in big government and would rather see many issues currently handled at the federal level sent back to the states.

He says he felt that way when he turned 18, and hasn’t changed since.

“RIght now, there just isn’t an anti-federalism party,” he says. “There isn’t a party standing up for states’ rights.”

Hobson says he plans to take on an increasingly active role in the local Libertarian Party and wants to see its message discussed in the same way a Democratic or Republican platform might be analyzed and dissected by the mainstream media for months ahead of an election.

The Delaware voter says he cast a ballot for the 2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, describing him as “a bit of an off character” albeit a “staunch libertarian.” At one point, polls showed him with double-digit support nationally.

However, Hobson seems to suggest the party has a stronger candidate in Jorgensen, a senior lecturer in psychology at Clemson University and lifelong Libertarian.

“She’s on the ballot in all 50 states. She’s a phenomenal candidate. And people have not even heard her name,” he says.

Whereas Johnson was the focus of televised town halls by major networks and in-depth interviews with prominent journalists, occasionally leading to embarrassing gaffes that appeared to tank his candidacy in some opinions, Jorgensen has been entirely blocked from the national conversation surrounding the upcoming vote, Hobson says.

“I think [the media] put [Johnson] on there because they wanted to find some way that he’d trip himself up. But Jo isn’t going to do that,” he says. “They’re doing everything they can at this point to keep it between the two of them. It isn’t a two-party system, it’s a one-party system.”

Until recently, it was virtually impossible to find any indication of Jorgensen’s involvement in the 2020 elections when watching any television news outlet. But Jorgensen spoke with Fox News this week about how she says “it was impossible from the start” for her to get into the debates against Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

“We keep hearing it's two old rich white guys, but that's the least of it," Jorgensen says in the interview. “The biggest problem is they both want to spend our money. They both want to make our decisions. Neither one has an answer to our crushing healthcare problem and neither one is going to bring the troops home. I can see why they don't want me on stage."

Jorgensen later suggests she was unable to participate in the debates this year because Johnson polled high during the previous election and was “dangerously close” to disrupting the status quo.

Hobson agrees with this sentiment, noting how the presidential debates began shutting out third-party candidates since 1992.

“They don’t want us to play in their sandbox,” he says. “It’s like the small kid at a football huddle trying to get in to hear what the play is. It’s done intentionally.”

Hobson says he was frustrated in recent weeks when Jorgensen wasn’t invited to any of the presidential debates and didn’t receive any chance to speak to the American people in a significant way — even as the president threw a wrench into the debates by refusing to participate in a virtual event.

“At one point Joe Biden wanted to have a virtual debate and Trump wanted to have an in-person debate. Well, Jo Jorgensen will stand up and debate in person and virtually, and they still won’t debate her,” he says. “The media is not allowed to talk about her. Even four years ago the Libertarian party with Gary got way more media response than she is. Because she’s a serious threat, and a serious contender.”

Hobson will be casting his ballot this year for Jorgensen, and remains hopeful the country could one day see a world where third parties enter the fray. But for now, he doesn’t see it being likely that most voters will have a chance to hear from Jorgensen before Election Day has come and gone. In his view, it’s all thanks to a two-party takeover.

“The two-party system has taken over the debates,” he says with a sigh. “Just like they’ve taken over education, just like they’ve taken over our media, just like they’ve taken over everything.”

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