It is now a foregone conclusion that the November election will be Trump v. Clinton. There is no sign of a third party candidate entering the race but Libertarian Gary Johnson is making some noise about wanting to be part of the debates this coming fall. The Lincoln-Teddy Roosevelt-Reagan GOP establishment that defined the Republican Party founded in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854 has been defeated and the party constituency is now defined by Donald Trump and his giddy supporters who either want to defeat the establishment for good or want a Noveau-Republican victory in November even if it is Trump for reasons such as ensuring a conservative is appointed to the Supreme Court, like the “Wall Talk,” the Muslim ban, and other bigoted ideas that spew from The Donald’s mouth that roars. Not to mention, for the first time in the history of this country, you have two candidates representing each major party who may be criminally indicted; the private server emails and those ripped off in Trump University.
Will voting for Gary Johnson (Libertarian) solve the problem? As for what I know right now, Mr. Johnson is the penultimate “mental floss” disillusioned established Republicans like me have available to us at the present time. His four biggest assets are (1) he is not Hillary Clinton, (2) he is not Donald Trump, (3) he is a limited government person, and (4) he is on the ballot in all fifty states. Number four is very important because voting the Libertarian line is very different than writing in an outsider. In a gubernatorial, congressional, or mayoral or other local election, while votes for Mickey Mouse are discarded as “non-votes,” writing in the name of a real person will register as one vote for that person. But due to the Electoral College, a vote for Ted Cruz is a vote for Mickey Mouse if Cruz has no assigned set of electors in that respective state. The two mitigating factors are (1) does he have any chance in Hell to acquire 270 electoral votes, or at least deny both Trump and Clinton 270 and let the House of Representatives decide? And (2) if he is the twenty-first century Bull-Moose, which candidate will he take votes away from and therefore, which candidate will win by default with a plurality of popular votes?
Looking first at tradition, with the Republican Party known for supporting limited government and states’ rights, one would think the Republican vote would be split between Trump and Johnson and Hillary would get the gold ring. But one would have to assume the Republican establishment is not completely dead. With Trump dominating the party and with not enough evidence to support Trump is truly a conservative, Johnson, though no fault of his, could cause a divide among establishment vs. non-establishment. Though Hillary Clinton is the first woman to be the prospective nominee of a major party, she does represent the establishment by default. Trump has never been a politician and the Libertarian Party has never been established as a major party in the U.S. Hillary served in the Senate and as Secretary of State and is familiar with Washington. Another teaspoon of medicine hard for conservatives and former establishment Republican conservatives to swallow is Gary Johnson, although a good fiscal conservative, shows a hint of social liberalism in that he is pro-choice. Though the opportunistic Trump has not been firm about it, he will inevitably identify himself as a pro-life candidate to keep “former” establishment Republicans who ate the crow and are backing Trump not to tarry into Libertarian waters not tested for liberal impurities. On the other hand, the death of the Grand Old Party as we know it and the Tea Party staying dormant, a new breed of “anti-Democrat” who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative could make it past the embryonic state. When the Republican conservative establishment was alive and well and the Tea Party was vocal at being the buffer faction preserving conservative values in mainstream Republicans desiring to be elected to office at least nationally, a pro-choice Republican had no chance. But while the Trump factor will keep the centrifuge spinning until Election Day, the chemical make-up of the new American political philosophy is still an unknown. Barring an unlikely Libertarian victory in November and especially if Trump is defeated by Mrs. Clinton, there is a high probability of a merger and acquisition, as it were of the Libertarian Party and the anti-Trump factions of the Republicans.
Undoubtedly, in 1912, a vote for Teddy Roosevelt was a vote for Woodrow Wilson. George Wallace’s candidacy in 1968 probably had an impact on the Nixon victory although Nixon did get more than fifty percent of the popular vote because Richard Nixon was considered a progressive Republican and now defunct Dixi-crat faction of the Democrats more conservative than most Republicans divided Democrats between Hubert Humphrey and Wallace who did win the electoral votes in Mississippi and his home state of Alabama. In 1980, John Anderson most-likely helped Ronald Reagan, but we will never know for sure. After the failed rescue mission where a helicopter was shot down in Iran to bring our hostages home, Jimmy Carter was done anyway and although not as big a victory in 1894, Reagan got a lion’s share of the popular vote in 1980 as well. H. Ross Perot took votes away from George H.W. Bush in 1992 as expected since Perot is a multi-billionaire and wealthy Americans. Bush-41 was on top of the world after Desert Storm liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s invasion but broke his “read my lips” promise and the economy tanked so again, did Bill Clinton really need help from Perot? This year, there is no incumbent. There are no incumbent faux-pas to correct and there are no incumbent good deeds to reward. Assuming the candidacy is strong enough, which way would Gary Johnson divide the nation? Right now you can flip a coin.
As far as we know, Gary Johnson is clean with respect to the law and ethics violations. There is no danger of an indictment against Mr. Johnson; at least none to which we are cognitive. At the present time, if you need a reason to vote for Gary Johnson, that would be it. Though not a big chance, he would have a chance to win the presidency if the American people showed up at the polls in favor of ethics and respect for the law. Unfortunately, few voters have ever voted solely on moral principles. As of right now, I would say support Gary Johnson if and only if you believe he has a realistic chance of winning. If you are simply looking for a candidate to vote for to stop Trump without voting for Hillary, it is too early to draw any conclusion as to which way the Bull-Moose divide will be directed. That could change as the campaigns progress but for now, I would hold off on voting below Row B. I would urge everyone to show up at the polls, even if you don’t vote for president, to vote the congressional ballot as we are in a critical turning point for what policy and policies will shape the United States of America as we move deeper into the twenty-first century.