Chase Oliver
Chase Oliver (Photo: Facebook)

The Libertarian Party held its National Convention to choose a Presidential nominee over the weekend. The event, at a Washington hotel, was notable for several reasons. Firstly, Donald Trump and Robert Kennedy Jr. both gave speeches in an attempt to win favor with the party members.

Trump was probably not expecting to receive a cacophony of boos and heckles when he spoke.

The former President implored those in the room to back his campaign. He even promised that he would place a Libertarian in a cabinet position if elected.

“The fact is we should not be fighting each other,” Trump said. “If Joe Biden gets back in, there will be no more liberty for anyone in our country. Combine with us in a partnership – we’re asking that of the libertarians. We must work together. Combine with us. You have to combine with us.”

This did not go down well and prompted much of the booing.

Trump said that backing him, or making him their choice for Presidential nominee, was their only chance of achieving power.

“Only if you want to win. Only if you want to win. Maybe you don’t want to win. Maybe you don’t want to win. Only do that if you want to win. If you want to lose, don’t do that. Keep getting your 3% every four years.”

Do the Libertarians matter?

The Libertarian Party, which largely stands for small government, non-intervention by the state, free markets and personal freedom, routinely takes around 3% of the vote during general elections. Given how close this November’s election is predicted to be, that 3% could impact the results in certain swing states.

Although some with Libertarian supporters will probably vote for Trump come November, others clearly see him as a joke.

When it came to nominating their presidential nominee, just a half dozen delegates (out of 800) cast votes for Trump. The former President later claimed that he didn’t even officially try for the nomination (although we suspect he’d have claimed it if awarded to him).

The Libertarian Party instead chose Chase Oliver, 38, as their Presidential nominee.

Although Oliver has zero chance of becoming President, as previously mentioned, his running could have an impact in swing states.

It wouldn’t be the first time Oliver has influenced elections.

In 2022, Oliver ran in his home state, Georgia, to join the Senate. He got 1.35% of the vote. That was a close race between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Oliver’s participation arguably led to a further run-off election between the two main contenders (won by Warnock in December 2022).

Who is Chase Oliver?

Oliver, who is gay, was born on August 16, 1985, in Nashville, Tennessee. He worked in the restaurant business for 13 years, and as a sales account executive and HR representative, before pursuing political activism.

He says that he was formerly a Democratic supporter of President Obama.

“I started out as a Democrat because I was virulently anti-war during Iraq,” Oliver told the Bay Area Reporter last year. “As George W. Bush was a Republican, I became a Democrat reflexively.”

He says he became disillusioned with Obama for not doing more to reduce US intervention in the Middle East.

It was at Atlanta Pride in 2010 that he came across a Libertarian stand. He said it was the only political party to have a presence at the event, and that pricked his interest in finding out more.

Oliver later posted on X, “John Monds, one of the most principled Libertarians I know, was running for governor, and he was the only candidate in that race who appeared at Atlanta Pride.

“He wasn’t afraid to stand on principle and defend the rights of self-expression and equality under the law. He won my vote that day and put me on the path to liberty.”

Running in Georgia

Oliver first ran for office as a Libertarian in 2020 for Georgia’s 5th congressional district (vacant following the death of John Lewis). Oliver got 2% of the vote (712 votes). He then ran again in 2022.

Oliver is a pro-immigration, pro-criminal justice reform candidate. He has argued in the past that crime is often linked to drug addiction and that people should be helped to deal with addiction to reduce crime.

During a speech at the Iowa State Fair Political Soapbox last year, Oliver pointed to Portugal as a country that had boldly decriminalized drug use. In doing so, it also saw its HIV transmission rate halved.

Oliver’s pick as Presidential nominee has infuriated some of the more right-leaning Libertarians. Other commentators have picked up on the fact he’s gay and appears to have no problem with drag queens.

In his acceptance speech, Oliver took aim at Kennedy, Trump and Biden.

“Rule No 1: If you want to elect a real political outsider, don’t elect somebody with the last name Kennedy,” he said.

As for the Republican and Democratic choices, Oliver said younger voters “don’t want octogenarians running their lives.”

Whether Oliver boosts interest in the Libertarians or drives Libertarian voters to cast their votes elsewhere, remains to be seen.

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