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Young Libertarians know they aren't taken seriously, but say the party is ripe for rebranding


Libertarians have a bit of an image problem. Between candidates stripping and walking around naked at their national convention to Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson's strange antics on national television, young Libertarians know that it can be hard for outsiders to take them seriously.

"I think it depends on what people have been exposed to," said Robert Clarke, 23, a recent college graduate attending a Students for Liberty conference in New York City.

"When it comes to Libertarians, there's think tanks in Washington, there's professional scholars, incredible speakers, but then there's also people that run around in clear rain ponchos," Clarke said.

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Kyle Giusti, 19, said his classmates at Grand Valley State University in western Michigan have laughed at his political leanings.

"I say to my friends all the time, 'Oh, come to our Students for Liberty meetings. You don't have to agree with everything but you can just kind of see what we're about.' People just kind of laugh," he said.

"I think they're kind of seen as a joke party or the old trope of 'LOL Republicans but weed,'" said 20-year-old Grand Valley State University student Christina Dekoekkoek.

It might sound harsh, but the truth is former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was the last candidate from their party to be taken seriously.

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Students admit that even though Gary Johnson seemed capable of making a dent in the polls in 2016, he shot himself in the foot with his quirky antics on national TV.

But 21-year-old Kassy Dillon and other students agree that the current divisiveness in American politics is bringing more people over to the Libertarian Party, and that could lead to a rebranding.

"I think right now with the divide in the country, I think Libertarians are really the ones mending people back together because they can really reach both sides," the Mount Holyoke College student said.

"I think as time goes on, the movement will keep professionalizing itself and there will come point where it's more cohesively taken seriously," Clarke said.

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