PULSE OF THE VOTERS: Libertarian leaning toward 'Mayor Pete'
May 25-- May 25--GOSHEN -- For Goshen retiree Arlen Ambler, when it comes to deciding who to support in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, the seemingly ever-widening pool of presidential contenders has him excited.
Ambler, 68, is chairman of the Elkhart County Libertarian Party, though he's not opposed to throwing his support behind candidates of other parties when the situation warrants it.
And with more than 20 confirmed Democratic candidates alone having announced their presidential bids, Ambler, a staunch Trump opponent, is eagerly absorbing as much information about each candidate's policies and platforms with the hope of finding a contender he can throw his full support behind come Election Day.
PETE LEADS THE PACK
As for right now, Ambler's top choice is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat.
"I like the things Mayor Pete says," Ambler said of Buttigieg, a 37-year-old Harvard- and Oxford-educated war veteran. If Buttigieg were to make it all the way to the White House he would become both the youngest and first openly gay president of the United States.
"I donated some money to his campaign when he first started -- a small amount. And I was even thinking about volunteering for his campaign. But now that I'm chair of the Libertarian Party, I can't really do that. But I like that he says what he believes. Of course, you could say that about Trump, but half the time he doesn't actually believe it, or he changes his story. So, I like that Mayor Pete isn't afraid to say what he believes, and I really like his background and his experience."
But Buttigieg may not win the Democrat nomination. Ambler isn't counting out Democrat Joe Biden as a front-runner, even going so far as to suggest a Biden/Buttigieg ticket may be what ultimately unseats Trump in 2020.
"I do think that Joe Biden, depending on how his campaign plays out, might have a better shot," Ambler said of the presidential race. "Biden has kind of taken a lot of the media attention since his announcement. But Pete's rise has been really phenomenal. And, just saying my opinion, it would be interesting -- I'm not saying this would happen -- but a Biden/Buttigieg ticket might be phenomenal too."
Speaking specifically to the issues and topics he'd most like to see tackled as the presidential race unfolds, Ambler pointed first to concerns surrounding gun rights and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
"I think we need reform," Ambler said, noting that mass shootings in the United States seem to have increased at an alarming rate in recent years, and something needs to be done to curb that increase. "I believe in the 2nd Amendment, but as far as like semi-automatic weapons, assault weapons and this and that, people don't need them, in my opinion. Like the Pulse nightclub, where the guy goes in there and shoots 90-some people, or the guy at the hotel in Las Vegas who shoots down 50 or 60 people. Why should people have those kinds of weapons? People will say, well, we use them to go hunting. Well, use something else. Why do you need a military-grade weapon to shoot a deer?"
Also on Ambler's radar is the increasing amount of anti-abortion legislation being considered or approved by a number of U.S. states, legislation that he sees as a move in the wrong direction for the country.
"My opinion on abortions has changed over the years," Ambler noted of the issue. "Early on, I was against abortion and this and that. But through the years, I've kind of mellowed out a little bit, and changed my opinion on it. Right now, being more Libertarian, I believe in peoples' right to live their life, and liberty and freedom is up to the person, and not for the government to say 'You do this or you do that.'"
MUELLER AND MORE
Other issues and topics Ambler said he'll be keeping a close eye on in the lead-up to the 2020 election include the continuing revelations surrounding the Mueller report, discussions about the potential implementation of universal health care and its impacts, climate change legislation, immigration reform and potential tax cuts for the middle class.
In the end though, Ambler said for him the election comes down to an "anyone but Trump" mentality, and making sure that Trump doesn't get another four years in the White House.
"Basically I think the whole administration is corrupt, in my view, probably worse than Watergate," Ambler said of the Trump presidency. "I mean, I believe he should be impeached."
John Kline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN