Don’t like Trump or Clinton? Here is an option
August 22, 2016
OPINION by GORDON MULLIN
Its election season and most folk assume that they have only one of three choices for president: vote for Trump, Clinton or stay home. But I suggest there is another alternative.
First, a little background.
For me, the option between Trump or Clinton is the least palatable choice of presidential candidates in my lifetime. If I were given another option, I’d pick any other past Republican or Democrat candidate who ran for president in the last 70 years over these two. No past major party candidate, in my recollection, has been so dishonest, childish, untrustworthy, dysfunctional or ill-suited as the two offered to us today.
I’d choose any sitting federal Senator over the Clinton or Trump offering. I’d pick their VP choices over them- happily. I’m tempted to throw a dart at a phone book and I may be more comfortable placing the nuclear launch codes in the hands of this random person than either of these two deceitful candidates from our two main parties- or maybe not. It’s a tossup.
Neither Clinton nor Trump has a grasp on economics, trade policy, taxation or the consequences of their crony capitalist inclinations. They each campaign for our country’s highest office by provoking the ongoing hatred of their claimed malevolent groups du jour and offer themselves as saviors of the masses. “Vote for me- I’ll save you. I’ll give you free stuff and make your life perfect.”
The only reason either of them have any possibility of winning in this election cycle is that they have as an opponent someone even more loathed and untrusted by the electorate than themselves. I’m having a hard time finding thoughtful commentators who support either candidate on any other basis than they’re not, you know, the other guy.
I fear for our country if either becomes president. Our allies are deeply concerned. No one with serious foreign policy credentials trusts Trump, and Clinton offers us Hugo Chavez in a pantsuit.
But there is another choice. It’s the guy who ran in the 2012 election for the Libertarian party, Governor Gary Johnson. Johnson was a popular two term Republican governor (1995 – 2003) in Democrat leaning New Mexico. He is honest, trustworthy and a deficit hawk of the first order and he’s running again.
His VP is also a respected two term Republican governor from a Democrat leaning state (Massachusetts), Bill Weld.
On policy, there’s a lot to like. Up front is the acknowledgement that our principal long term, and short term, problem is our almost $20 trillion federal debt, largely accumulated under presidents Obama and Bush. This sum rightfully includes the unfunded liabilities of our runaway entitlement programs and excessive retirement plan promises. These guys well understand the nature of our dysfunctional federal tax system and have a well-researched plan to fix it.
The fix is not a partisan issue any longer. It’s survival and neither Trump nor Clinton has a plan to address this overriding problem. Our grandchildren need and deserve this.
Johnson and Weld are strong supporters of term limits for all federal elected positions- House and Senate. In short their position is- run for office, spend a few years doing the job at hand, and then return to private life. Just like our first President, George Washington.
Johnson and Weld know our immigration problems won’t be fixed by building a wall or demonizing immigrants. Instead of appealing to emotions, they want the government to focus on creating a more efficient system of providing work visas, conducting background checks, and incentivizing non-citizens to pay their taxes, obtain proof of employment, and otherwise assimilate with our diverse society.
They are strong constitutionalists and are willing to tell us the obvious: the national government has amassed too much power and we must return to a more federalist vision. We all know that power corrupts and they seek to create a government that does not overreach.
There’s a lot more meat on these policy bones and you can find out details on their web site and by listening to them on YouTube. I think you’ll find them refreshing and trustworthy. But, in this election, that’s a low bar.
To my friends who understandably claim “Johnson doesn’t have a chance,” I say, “Maybe not.” But maybe he does. If Johnson can get 15 percent in five major polls by September, he’s in the national debates and all bets are off. Right now he’s polling between 8 to 13 percent and climbing.
Unlike past third party candidates, Johnson has appeal across the political spectrum. He will pull votes from both the left and the right, especially in this election where many voters simply don’t trust either major party candidate. You’ll recall that Ross Perot in 1992 pulled enough votes from the Republican base to hand the election to Bill Clinton. In 2000 Ralph Nader drew sufficient voters from the left to make an opening for George Bush to squeak through.
That won’t be the case here.
In this election, Johnson will pull votes from both major candidates for two reasons. One, Trump and Clinton are the least trusted competitors in decades so the inclination to “stand by my party” is weakened. Two, the Libertarian policy positions are, in brief, Republican in fiscal matters and Democrat in the social sphere. Both the GOP and Dem supporters will find much to like here.
Is it possible that Johnson could become our next president? I say “possibly.” I think the main knock against this scenario is really nothing more than the perception that he can’t win. I’ve often heard from my friends that, sure, Johnson would make a better president than the other two but they believe he can’t win and the normal inclination of most folk is to back someone who they think will be a winner. That’s how we’re wired.
I say, vote your conscience. Which would you like to tell to your grandkids, “I voted for the guy I most trusted, but he didn’t win?” Or, would you rather say, “I voted for someone I didn’t trust, and they did win?”
Which would you prefer?
In fact, there just may be, perhaps, possibly a third scenario. You could say, “I voted for the guy I trusted and he got elected.”
Gordon Mullin is a financial adviser in San Luis Obispo.