Corey Friedman

The progressive presidential hopeful who wants to defund the police state and replace walls with turnstiles at the U.S. border isn’t Joe Biden.

The gun-toting, tax-slashing swashbuckler railing against Medicare for All and singing capitalism’s praises isn’t President Donald Trump.

Only one candidate can simultaneously outflank Democrats on the left and attack Republicans from the right while somehow seeming more moderate than either side’s septuagenarian standard-bearer.

Meet Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian Party’s 2020 presidential nominee.

The Clemson University psychology professor just wrapped up a 20-city bus tour, speaking to small but enthusiastic groups of supporters and perhaps winning a few converts along the way. In Durham, North Carolina, more than 300 people waited in the rain to hear her message of limited government and personal freedom.

As Biden betrays the Black Lives Matter movement’s calls for criminal justice reform, fearful of straying too far from the mushy middle, Jorgensen pledges to end no-knock police raids like the home invasion that led to Breonna Taylor’s death and curtail qualified immunity, which protects bad cops from being sued for police brutality.

“As your president, I will defund federal involvement in policing — including the DEA, which instead of protecting and serving, imports nameless, faceless SWAT teams to our streets,” Jorgensen said.

“I will end the supply of surplus military equipment like tanks and tear gas to over 8,000 federal, state and local police forces. They only make Americans feel like enemy combatants in their own neighborhood.”

An ill-fated drug war filled jails and prisons with convicts whose crimes had no victims. What’s more, Jorgensen says, the crackdown strengthened cartels and street gangs. In black markets where there’s no legitimate civil authority to resolve disputes, the capacity to commit violence means power in the pecking order.

This Libertarian is no libertine. She acknowledges the destructive force of heroin and opioid addiction. She just understands that locking drug users away has a poor track record for rehabilitation.

“I will pardon anyone convicted at the federal level of victimless crimes and instead allow the medical community to deal with substance abuse issues in a way that salvages lives instead of destroying them,” Jorgensen vowed.

As for immigration, Jorgensen cites statistics showing foreign-born American residents are less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens and waves of new workers correlate with gross domestic product increases.

While the gun lobby cozies up to Trump, who banned bump stocks by executive order, Jorgensen said she’d work to repeal every firearm law and regulation enacted in the last 100 years.

Libertarians’ contempt for the taxman is legendary, and Jorgensen is no exception. She wants to impose strict spending cuts on Congress and phase out the federal income tax. She’d audit and then end the Federal Reserve, the central bank she faults for the U.S. dollar losing 96 percent of its value in the last 100 years.

Health insurance rates are soaring because it’s become a payment-sharing plan instead of a risk management policy, Jorgensen says. Doctors and pharmacies inflate their prices for routine services, and patients have no complaints as long as their copays stay the same.

Car insurance would be similarly expensive, she explains, if we expected it to cover tires, oil changes and gas.

“For decades, the politicians in Washington have insisted it’s the fault of our free-market system; therefore, we need to go to single-payer,” Jorgensen said. “Well, I’ve got news for them: We haven’t had anything close to a free market in nearly a century.

“The alternative to our current big-government failure isn’t an even bigger government failure.”

Unless she can reach the 15 percent mark in national presidential polls, Jorgensen will be absent when Biden and Trump square off in the first presidential debate on Sept. 29. The goal doesn’t sound insurmountable, but it’s a high bar to clear when some pollsters exclude third-party candidates from their questionnaires.

Even if you’d never consider casting a vote for Jo Jorgensen on Election Day, her name should be the one on your lips when the phone rings and the caller inquires about your presidential preference.

Give her a boost in the polls and she’ll give you a true competition of ideas on the debate stage.

Corey Friedman is an opinion journalist who explores solutions to political conflicts from an independent perspective. Follow him on Twitter: @coreywrites. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.