Jo Jorgensen on Running for President

What’s more grueling, writing a dissertation or running for President? What the are KSAs for a national political candidate? How is campaigning for a third party like teaching and consulting? How is managing a political campaign different from managing a company?

In this episode, I talk to Dr. Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian Party candidate for President of the United States. Dr. Jorgensen has a Ph.D. in I-O psychology from Clemson University, where she currently serves as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology. To learn more about her campaign, visit www.joj2020.com. (Click here to check out the study I mentioned in this episode on the link between militarization and and police violence.)


This is an AI-translated transcript and may not be completely accurate. Please do not quote myself or any of my guests based on this transcript.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  00:00

And welcome everyone to the department 12 podcast. I’m your host, as always, Dr. Ben v. Tina and I am joined in this episode by Dr. Joe Jorgensen. How are you? Great. Thanks for having me. So Dr. Jorgenson is a senior lecturer in psychology at Clemson University. However, the reason you’re on the show is that you are running for president of the United States. So my first question for you is how did a nice IO psychologists like you end up running in a race like this? Yeah, exactly.

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  00:30

I do have some more degrees than the other people who are running for president. So we’ll see how that plays out. But no, I guess the assumption is, am I a nice IO psychologist? And let me point out in South Carolina, I’m not allowed to call myself a psychologist but had I been in my home state of Illinois I could so there’s debate as to whether I am an IO psychologist.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  01:00

Men, it’s the same in Pennsylvania.

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  01:02

Oh, are you allowed to call yourself a psychologist?

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  01:05

If you go and get the license, which is geared towards mainly towards clinical psychologists, you can. Yeah, yeah. We’re going to talk a little bit about your background. You did. You did mention that you have a few more degrees than the other candidates in this race. And I noticed that you got your undergraduate degree in psych from Southern Methodist University. The next year, you went back for an MBA at Baylor. And then 20 years pass, and you decide to go back for a PhD in IO psych. So why did you do that?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  01:37

I love psychology. And by the way, those colleges are flipped, but yes, oh, sorry. Yeah, no problem. I had always well, I loved psychology. And what’s funny is that when I I started out as a biology pre med major, and they made me take psychology is some kind of Gen Ed course. And in fact, what’s funny is that it is The only used book I bought back then textbooks were a lot less expensive because the federal government hadn’t gotten involved. And so my reaction was a psychology astrology, whatever. Okay, fine. Okay, I’ll take your little astrology course and I’ll buy a used textbook. Oh my gosh, when I fell in love with it. And what what really clicked was when my intro professor told us about a study in which doctors and nurses at a hospice type place, were asked to give prognosis, the prognosis of different patients and the nurses looking at just cheerfulness and optimism, they were better able to predict who would live and who would die than the doctors with other blood tests. And I thought, wow, if the brain is that powerful, that’s what I want to study. So I switched my major to psychology, and I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to go back to school. And finally the timing was right with the I was I ended up in the kind of a buggy whip industry in the 90s treated me well while it lasted, but I knew I needed to get back to where I wanted to go.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  03:13

Okay, well, I’m gonna jump back to the buggy whip job in a few minutes. But do you mind if I ask what your dissertation was on?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  03:22

Oh, it was on peak end theory, although another called peak end rule, and motivation.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  03:30

Okay, so I have to ask, most of my listeners, at least the ones that have PhDs will probably say that writing a dissertation was the most grueling thing they’ve ever done. How does it compare to running for president?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  03:42

I think more grueling. I think the dissertation was worse. Yeah, I joined the ranks of everybody who says, you know, my kitchen never looked cleaner. It’s like anything to do to keep from working on the dissertation. Absolutely.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  03:58

Alright. So being president is As a job and we like to think of running for president as a job interview, sort of the world’s strangest job interview, but I think being a candidate is a job in itself and like a separate job. Would you agree with that?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  04:12

Oh, absolutely. In fact, that’s what I tried to get across. And, you know, for the IO psychologists out there, I actually understood if you don’t mind my veering off a little bit, I actually understood the concept of or Yeah, the concept of construct before I went back from my doctoral degree when I was watching MTV in the 90s. And they would have the top 10 video countdown and I thought to myself, okay, are they really counting down the top 10 videos? Or are these just the top 10 songs and they’re showing the videos right? Now? That question was answered when in a top down, top 10 video countdown they came to journey and they said journey did not do The video for this song, and I felt completely ripped off. Because the minute you are not doing the top 10 videos, you’re doing the top 10 songs that’s entirely different. So yeah, when it came to running for president, I tried to explain this concept when I was running, because a lot of people would ask me, what what do you have in management experience? You know, what, what’s the largest company you’ve ever run because you’re going to run the United States. And now I do have that Clark’s answer from 1980, which is, if I could sit down around the kitchen table of every American family in this country, I would win overwhelmingly. You know, if I could explain the Libertarian Party principle, we would win overwhelmingly. However, since the Democrats and Republicans have a stranglehold on this, the chances are less likely and so I tried to explain to people that my job is actually running for office as opposed to holding off But another IO thing I also tried to explain that experience is overrated. That I know that from my IO studies,

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  06:10

so I’m glad that you agree with me that this is a job. So I’m curious about the job. It’s because it’s the kind of job that most IO psychologists are never going to come anywhere near. Yeah. What do you think we’re most likely to be wrong about? So we all have a naive image of what it is to be a candidate. What do you think we mostly get wrong about that?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  06:30

You mean, from an IO psychology standpoint?

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  06:33

I think just from like a regular Joe naive person who sees you on TV or hears your interview on a podcast or a radio show, and they think they know what it’s like to be a presidential candidate. Like, what is it that we don’t see what is this job actually like?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  06:49

Yeah, well, that’s a really good question. I think it’s like a lot of jobs in the public where they don’t see the iceberg underneath all of the work. All of the many hours and hours of reading Preparing. It’s it would be great to come out and very glibly answer questions, but it takes a lot of work. And also, I’ve got a wonderful team behind me. And we’ve started doing briefing sessions, which is great. So it’s not, you know, little me, sitting there reading my computer or reading the newspaper. It’s a team of people discussing issues and what’s the best way to present it. So I’m very grateful to them. They do a great job, and it makes me look better. So.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  07:36

So it’s a it’s a team effort. Yes. And there’s daily briefings. Could you just like walk me through at a high level? What’s a day on this job? Like, when do you start? What are you doing? When does it end?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  07:47

Well, I start a little later than probably most candidates because I start with my daily briefing at 10am. The The good thing about having me as an instructor at Columbia Is I’m a night owl. So I’m emailing students back and forth one two in the morning the night before a test answering questions because that’s my normal. That’s my normal schedule. So we start with the briefing at 10 o’clock in the morning. And sometimes I have candidate work where we go over past videotape. See what I did, right? See what I did wrong. And I can have up to like Monday, I think I had nine interviews, nine different podcasts. And then I also had meetings on top of that. So it was pretty much, you know, a 14 hour day because it on the calendar looks like there’s a lot of time, half hour podcast, half hour off half hour podcast, but then by the time you answer emails and all of that, it really adds up. And I would say the other thing that maybe people don’t realize is, we do need to keep the campaign going. And so I do call If influential people in the party, ask them for their help ask them for their donations. So that’s part of being a candidate.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  09:08

So, something you said and caught my attention because one of the things I’ve done in my career is, is public speaking training or presentation skills training, and we, you know, do the usual thing of you know, videotaping or whatever it’s called, now that we don’t have tape anymore. Video Recording someone, and then we go through their tape and, you know, we show them what they did well, and what they didn’t do well, and people hate it. They just like they fear it. And I wonder after doing so many of these, Does it still hurt or you just not care anymore?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  09:39

Oh, yeah. No, I hate it. I hate it. I in fact, finally, my communications director said okay, for our meeting today, we are going to watch the tape. I don’t care what you think. So, yes. And And the funny thing is, I teach the large auditorium classes, you know, to 250 students. And so I think Well, I’ve got all this experience talking in front of groups, you know, what problem do I have until I get myself on tape? And then I realized, yes, but it’s really been different with this virus is I’m doing a lot of things, of course through my computer just as I am with you. And so it’s a different medium. So i, i, where i might look okay in person with larger hand gestures on the computer and might come across a little different, especially with the depth of field,

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  10:33

I want to return to this idea of the candidate as a job for a minute, if you were training someone to do this job. So I don’t know maybe you’re a consultant, you know, 20 years from now and you’re coaching the Libertarian candidate at that point, like what skills would you emphasize for the candidate? What do you need to be good at to do this job? Well,

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  10:55

I think in some regards, you pretty much have to be fearless. Because you never know what situation you’re going to get in, you never know what questions you’re going to be asked. You never know how many people you’re going to be talking in front of. In fact, I was the VP nominee in 1996. And I spoke at a music festival, and I’m not sure how many people were there at the time. I know, there were 10,000 total, I think during the day, but it was, you know, maybe 5000 people. So and I introduced a semi famous band that had just appeared in the movie. So that was kind of fun. And you just have to be ready for everything. But it’s one of these things. Well, and let me back up just a little. Here’s what I think. I I, when we look at case essays, and I normally don’t talk about you know, I would never talk about case essays on CNN, of course, but I think teaching actually puts me in a good spot for this, especially for the Libertarian Party in the libertarian. Philosophy. So if you’re a Democrat or Republican, no problem, we’re just going to give you stuff right? With the Libertarian Party though we’re we are a little more philosophically oriented. We emphasize individual rights, individual responsibilities, we emphasize that people have the right to life, liberty and property. And so a lot of times I have to take abstract constructs and turn them into everyday language and turn them into benefits and with, you know, the average American voter, you tell them, oh, the Libertarian Party, we’re for free, and I’m more for liberty. And our eyes kind of glaze over and they say, well, we’re the freest country in the world. So what? So what I have to do is I have to take that and translate it into something that’s meaningful to them. Mm hmm.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  12:51

I can see how teaching would be good preparation for that and it makes a lot of sense that you know, rather than having, you know, four better or for worse the sort of predigested platforms that the majority of Americans understand or think they already understand about the Republicans and the Democrats. I imagine you’re talking to more people who are considering voting libertarian for the first time. And so there’s there’s an education piece to it for sure.

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  13:18

Exactly. And there’s kind of a sales about it. Yeah, basically, I have to sell, I have to sell the, the product here. And a lot of people say, well, but when the free market healthcare system obviously doesn’t work, we need socialized medicine. And so I have to sell the people on first of all, explain that we don’t have a free market system, but then also how our system is better. So in a lot of ways, it is like just any other kind of sales.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  13:53

Yeah, and this this actually mirrors almost exactly so many conversations. I’ve had With IO psychologists who, you know, even if they’re not teaching, even if they’re out there consulting, they’re doing exactly the same thing. They’re taking these, you know, these constructs, and they are trying to develop them and communicate them in a way that is clear to the people they’re talking to without talking down to them. So probably a lot of people can can relate to what you’re doing on a smaller scale.

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  14:20

And in a way, and let me just interject, if you don’t mind consulting, I discovered First of all, it’s heavy sales up front, unless you work for a large company that has the sales division, but I do on my dissertation chair and I, our business partners, and we do consulting on the side. So there’s that sales upfront just to have the company choose you. But then after that, because we go by data, and not suppose that common sense, sometimes we can come up with something that sounds very counterintuitive. And remember one situation we were in or the HR manager was not happy with us at all. She explained to us we did not know what we were talking about because it was something to do with training. And when we tried to explain to her what the empirical evidence said, So, so even after you had the job, there’s still amount, there’s some certain amount of salesmanship just because you have to convince the person that your way is better, even though it might not seem that way to the outside, or,

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  15:26

Oh, absolutely. And that’s something that I don’t think a lot of graduate programs prepare folks for, because you get so involved in communicating in a certain way and in a sort of very academic way. And then all of a sudden, now you’re standing in front of some executives whose eyes are glazing over as you’re

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  15:45

actually and this is where my dissertation chair was always getting after me during the program and while I was in the program, because he said, I spoke too much like a lay person too much like a generalist. So what Hurt me in the academic program is actually helping me in the real world and helps me with consulting because I actually do speak English.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  16:10

And you are very good at thinking on your feet just to pull back the curtain a little bit here for the listeners, about half of the questions. You know, I sent ahead to do a little prep, but most of these are, you know, most of these jobs. Dr. Jorgensen is hearing for the first time. So the responses have been just really excellent and very polished. I want to talk to you about leadership. you started your own company, you talked about it being in the buggy whip industry, which I’ll let you go into a little more. But at one point, I understand you had about 25 employees. So you had your own company and you’re leading this company, how does leading a campaign differ from leading a company?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  16:54

Well, the biggest difference is that with a company, you’re paying people and then Understand that if they don’t do their job well that they might not have a job in a few weeks, and I’m not suggesting that you managed by fear, but there’s always that little, you know, in the back of their mind. The campaign we’re running has a lot of volunteers. And so it’s very difficult, you know, to say, Well, you can’t volunteer next week and and also so many people are doing this because it’s their passion. And as you know, libertarians we always have, we always know the best way to do anything, right. Just ask

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  17:39

us each each and every one of us yeah,

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  17:42

each and every one of us. And so and the even though, even though there’s the libertarian philosophy is somewhat narrow, oh my gosh, we’ve got so many people who fight to the death on on, on somewhat small issues. So, it’s, you know, like they say herding cats.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  18:03

Yeah. Yeah. So it’s it’s more of a pure, I guess, form of leadership as we might talk about it as influence because there’s no undercurrent, you know, either implicit or explicit, like, Hey, this is a paid job. And I and I know that I have to follow orders to some extent to keep it. You’re really, you know, trying to inspire people and motivate them, you know, on their own abilities and their own desire to do it. Exactly. So, how if at all, do you think you’re training in IO Sykes influenced your political career?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  18:39

Um, I’m not really sure it has a because it perhaps if I were a democrat or republican it might. But as a libertarian, I still believe that people have the right to be stupid. And I have gotten some emails from IO psychologists in the field. Asking me, you know, having to read the book nudge. Don’t you know anything about Kahneman and Tversky? Because we know that we can influence people by doing this and that, and my responses, but I don’t want to influence people in that way. I don’t agree with the system of having a few elitist people at the top, who make decisions for everybody else. I think that again, people should be allowed to be stupid. So I’m not really using that as Okay, I’m going to come in and make the system better. I’m saying I just want to take the power back from the government officials and give it to where it rightly belongs to the people. And the one book I think that influenced me the most was Animal Farm, where some are more equal than others. And that just really struck a chord with me and the idea that we’ve got a few people at the top making the decisions for the rest of us. really bothers me.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  19:59

Yeah. I actually I’ve read that book several times just finished up reading it with my daughter, who’s my oldest daughter who’s reading it for school now. And it’s Orwell was just such a fantastic writer. And the images were so clear, it’s amazing. After all these years, how much of it I remember down to the slogans and the songs. And it’s, it’s a hell of a good book. So as we record this interview, the biggest political issue in the country, at least from where I’m sitting is this issue of police violence and brutality. And among IO psychologists on social media, who are you know, we’re talking to each other. And the big question is, what can I do to help? So I guess my question to you is, do you think IO psychologists can help the situation or is it more about policy and law to fix it?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  20:47

Well, I think culture plays a big role. And one thing that we know as scientists of human behavior is that human behavior does not have a single cause. And I go through this in my class. By the way, the class I love to teach the most is intro because it is just so it’s a little bit of everything. So a lot of people look at it as just being influenced by other people, but they’re not even thinking cheese, you’re influenced by even hormones and genetics and your conditioning from the past. There are so many different influences. And so I hear a lot of people on the radio, for instance, we just need to train those police officers better, or we need to hire, we need to hire people who aren’t going to shoot people. And I think okay, it’s not that easy. Because, you know, first of all, when we look at Minnesota, and I haven’t looked into that particular state, how they do things, but I would bet money that they’ve got a state police academy, as many states do. I believe that they probably received the same training as most of the people around the state and it’s probably very good training, but culture, just play Such a role. And the one thing that bothers me from a government policy standpoint is, of course, I don’t like as a libertarian, I don’t like the government and the federal government being where it doesn’t belong anywhere, such as education, health care, and so forth. But in policing, crime is a local issue. assault, robbery, burglary, all of that. That’s all a local issue, and it should be dealt with locally. The federal government really shouldn’t be involved in that. And the police should have the attitude of, you know, serve and protect their community. But what the federal government has done is they have taken again, our taxpayer dollars, and they buy tanks, grenade launchers, and all these other things, and then dangle it in front of these police departments. And you hear Would you like a free tank? And who’s gonna say No, well, well know how powerful the word free is. And besides that, the thinking is, well, geez, that’s our tactic. taxpayer dollars. So I don’t want the people Alabama to get it. I don’t want the people in Texas to get it. So yeah, I want a free tank. But culturally, when when the government hands out when the when the federal government basically militarizing the local police departments by giving them the equipment, giving them free training, giving them additional money. Now the police have a different mentality. And it’s a different culture. And now they feel more like soldiers who are going into war as opposed to police. And if the federal government hadn’t, then basically militarizing all these local police departments, I don’t think we would see things ratchet up as fast as they do.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  23:44

Yeah, and I actually read a few studies recently and just you know, it’s a topic of interest of mine, is that it, you know, reinforces everything you just said, which is that, you know, this equipment that’s, you know, this military equipment that you use Police forces it’s, you know, linked to a military ization of the culture of that police force. Yeah, this Yeah, this is not a political show. But I would be really stupid about this next question, which is this? I haven’t pulled my audience but let’s assume that, you know, they’re fairly typical in terms of political distribution of the of the population. Given the number of academics, I would guess it’s probably left leaning, but let’s just say it’s, you know, it’s the national average. For those who don’t consider themselves libertarian. What’s the case for voting libertarian? What’s the case for casting their ballot for you and spike on this fall, instead of Joe Biden or Donald Trump?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  24:41

Well, I agree with you psychology tends to be left leaning already, and especially social psychology, which I also teach in which they did a poll in. I think it was like 800, liberals to like six conservatives. It was some outrageous poll. So I would speak to that. People on the left and say, you know, the Democratic Party was traditionally the anti war party. They were the party of peace. They were the party of forgiveness, the party of free speech. And now what you have does not resemble that at all. Tulsi Gabbard tried to make a great speech, try to make great inroads to turn our country more peaceful. And the Democratic Party shut her down. And a lot of people don’t even realize that, for instance, Barack Obama and Hillary were both against gay marriage in 2012. And when I tell that to young people, their reaction is what? What? Why would they do that? That does make any sense? Well, it’s because they’re more interested in votes than individual rights. And one of my top planks is to bring our troops home and turn America into one giant Switzerland armed in neutral There’s no reason why we need to be everywhere around the world and being in the Middle East is making us less safe, not more safe. And the irony here is that it’s the militaries job to protect us. So I would suggest, if you want the type of piece that Tulsi Gabbard was trying to talk about before she was shut down, then please look at the Libertarian Party. We have been for individual liberty and right since the 1970s. We wanted gay marriage to be legal in the 1970s decades before Obama was still saying that should be illegal. If you look at LGBTQ, just all across the line, we have always been for the individual.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  26:44

So if our listeners want to learn more about you and your campaign, what’s the best way for them to find out?

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  26:50

Please go to oj Oj 2020 calm again. That’s Jay Oh, Jay 2020 calm and what’s really exciting is it Even from the first week of our campaign, we’ve had so many non libertarian volunteers. It’s just been with, we were just overwhelmed. Because usually when you start out with a campaign, you start out with your core supporters. But we started bringing in non libertarians from the start. So we are just so ecstatic. And even if you’re not interested in politics enough to check out a candidate ahead of time, I would appreciate your vote in November. And if you’re at all for free speech, and being able to have all all voices heard, I hope to be on the stage with Trump and Biden. If anybody polls you, and we know how important polls are, if anybody polls you, you can tell them that you might be voting or that you plan to vote libertarian, and if I can get to 15%, maybe I can get on that stage. And then we can have all voices heard, not just the people at the top the elitists.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  27:58

All right. Well, thank you. very much Dr. Jorgensen. I think this was a great conversation. I just, I just want to thank you again for, for taking time out of what I know is a very busy schedule to talk to your fellow IO psychologists.

Jo Jorgensen, Ph.D.  28:09

Yes. Well, thank you. It’s fun, you know, getting to talk about things that construct I can talk about that on CNN.