In the world of politics, third-party candidates often fall to the wayside in elections because of the overwhelming support and funding that go to the two major U.S. political parties, the Democrats and Republicans. Junior political science major Brayden Montgomery hopes to change that, or at least open students’ minds at the University of Indianapolis to Libertarian principles. To do this, he is currently trying to establish a chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty on UIndy’s campus.
“It [Young Americans for Liberty] is basically just trying to get younger people involved in the political process and aware of the issues,” Montgomery said. “But obviously, we just have [a] different affiliation and view on things [than Republicans or Democrats]. Young Americans for Liberty is important because younger people were really active in this election, compared to 2012 and 2008. I think a lot of [young] people are starting to say, ‘Hey, this is our future. We have these important issues, and we need to be aware of them, and we need to educate people about them.’”
According to Montgomery, many people often feel that when voting they have to choose between two people they don’t actually like. He said that although third-party candidates rarely win elections, it’s important for each person to vote his or her conscience.
“That’s ultimately my goal is to give people an alternative [to the Democratic and Republican parties],” Montgomery said. “We saw with Donald Trump and Hillary [Clinton] that a lot of people were torn. They were like, ‘I don’t really like either of these people. So who do I vote for?’”
Young Americans for Liberty will have representatives from other universities such as Indiana University come to UIndy in order to help get the chapter off the ground, according to Montgomery. He also will attend a conference in Chicago held by the Young Americans for Liberty, which will feature special guest speakers from the Libertarian Party.
“We [Young Americans for Liberty] are going to have what is called an invasion,” Montgomery said. “We are going to have the chapter from Indiana State—they are a pretty well-established chapter and have been around for about three or four years now … they are going to come here to UIndy and help me talk to people.”
Montgomery also plans to take his political aspirations past forming a campus organization. In 2018, Montgomery said he will run for a seat in the Indiana House Representative in the 44th District, which is south of Indianapolis and encompasses Seymour and Nashville.
“I plan on running for office in 2018 on the Libertarian ticket,” he said. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, you’re running third-party. You won’t win.’ That’s not really the goal. The goal is to get out there and say, ‘Hey, have you ever heard of this thing called being a Libertarian, or not being completely Democrat or completely Republican?’”
According to Montgomery, the Libertarian Party generally sees more people convert over from the Republican side than the Democratic side. He claims that economic issues are generally the hardest to change people’s minds about, and because Libertarians and Republicans share similar thoughts on economic policies, the transition is just a matter of accepting a more socially liberal mindset.
“We [Libertarians] protect liberty,” Montgomery said. “We believe in everybody having choice in all aspects of their life. Your rights are given to you just by being a human being. The Constitution recognizes those rights, but they are already there.”
Although Professor of History and Political Science James Fuller has no current affiliations with the Young Americans for Liberty organization, he does identify himself politically as a Libertarian and was the faculty advisor for a previous Libertarian student organization, the Campus Libertarian.
“Back when I was younger, in college, I was a Libertarian activist on my campus,” Fuller said. “I opposed the Gulf War way back in the day with George Bush the first and opposed the drug war, where I organized and led some protests on that. I’m concerned with civil liberties and things like that, but I’m generally in favor of limited government.”
For Fuller, the idea of Libertarianism goes beyond belonging to a specific party. He said that being a Libertarian has an impact on his ideas of the world and how it should work.
“For me, a Libertarian is someone who values individual liberty and thinks that people should be free from force,” Fuller said. “I sort of try to follow in my own life what Libertarians call the non-aggression principle, which is to not use force. You shouldn’t force people to do what they don’t want to do, and [you should] allow them to do what they want as long as they don’t harm other people. Now, of course, what that definition of harm is then is where you get lawyers coming in, and it gets complex.”
Fuller supports the idea of a Libertarian movement on campus because, according to him, it allows for a space which invites the exchange of conflicting ideas and allows people to question their own systems of thought and find similarities with those of others.
“One of the things I think is useful for third-party movements—movements that are dedicated to an idea like liberty—is to recognize that you [Republicans and Democrats] have a common ground to share,” Fuller said. “I think too often we become so tribal and so partisan. If you can take it out of that ‘us v. them,’ partisan battleground and instead look at an issue or even a principle that we can discuss and find common ground in, it comes back to the sharing of ideas, and that’s incredibly important.”