We, as quadrennially always, are faced with deciding who will lead our country in the next four years.
Primary voters for Democrats chose former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a rock-solid member of their establishment long expected to be nominated. Those voting for Republicans collectively made a dissimilar decision. They went with Donald Trump, a businessman who would not have made any commentator’s list of the 20 most likely nominees two years ago.
Voters have real reasons to be discontented with these choices.
The most common general objections to Clinton are not the problem. Her use of private email servers for classified information, and her failure to admit it and work with instead of against investigators, was poorly judged, but minor. Her lying after murders of Americans in Benghazi was bad behavior, but hardly heinous. Her disposition, which often seems distasteful, is, for purposes of governance, a trivial matter. However, because of her mainstream status, she is certain to be overly influenced by her party base, which has already come out in anti-jobs initiatives such as the $15-per-hour minimum wage she now backs. Also, and more importantly, we are now finishing the second term of a president whose actions are similar to hers. Barack Obama, when you factor out allegations and unjustified interpretations of his intentions, has governed as a slightly conservative Democrat; Clinton, as shown especially by her views on social issues and foreign policy, promises more of the same. For a country stuck in legislative gridlock and apparently unable to address many of its worst problems, eight years of one philosophy is enough.
As for Trump, he has disqualified himself over and over again. I could write thousands of words recapping his reprehensible statements, but that has already been done well by others, so I only summarize that he has been bullying, undiplomatic, defamatory, hostile, violence-inciting, misogynistic, unapologetic, and much more. The New York Times has maintained a list of different “people, places and things” he has insulted on Twitter alone, along with documentation – as of Thursday morning, it was up to 258. He has shown little substance on issues, with almost nothing fleshed out or even consistent beyond immigration and trade policy. He has shown that he is enamored with Vladimir Putin, Russian president and de facto dictator, to an extent certain to warp his international-relations judgment. The amount and frequency of his lying has been almost unbelievably prolific, even for a politician. His ability as a businessman, his claim to fame, is questionable at best, with thousands of lawsuits against him, at least four bankruptcies, a high rate of business failures, a documented record of employee abuse and supplier nonpayment, and, since he has singularly refused to release his tax returns, real doubts about how much he has actually earned. He arrived shockingly unprepared for September’s debate. He has repeatedly revealed a hair-trigger mentality totally unsuitable for anyone with the ability to launch nuclear weapons. And, perhaps more disturbing than anything else about him, his inflammatory rhetoric and his lack of a clearly defined platform (he is no conservative) are unnervingly similar to Adolf Hitler’s; if you read Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here, about the rise of an American dictator through the political system, you will be stunned by the similarities between protagonist Buzz Windrip and Trump. He contends only with 1908’s William Jennings Bryan as the worst major-party nominee in the latest two centuries, and in the privacy of the voting booth, nobody, except maybe his friends and family members, should choose him.
Another candidate is worthy of mention. Jill Stein of the Green Party offers a lot of ideas from the political left of Obama and Clinton. She is earnest, well-spoken, and admirable in her own way, but is simply too extreme, with her plans such as eliminating all fossil-fuel use by 2030 not only unworkable but in the wrong direction for a country struggling with internal divisions and a permanent jobs crisis. Against that, we could depend on Congress to keep her worst propositions in check.
So what can we do?
Into the gap, like a breath of fresh air, is Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. As befitting one with that ideology he chooses freedom over conservatism or liberality, and picks his positions accordingly. There are weaknesses in this approach – for example, as I have written before, the jobs shortage causes critical damage to the practice and idea of free markets by causing too many people to have nothing to spend – but in general, it is successful. On social issues, such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and marijuana legalization, it is clear that conservatives are on the wrong side of history. Remembering how my sister was denied one at the White Sox baseball bat day 50 years ago because she was a girl seems bizarre to me now – when our grandchildren hit middle age, they will think the same about gay couples once being denied the right to marry. On economic issues, our national debt doubled during the previous Republican administration and is on track to double again during this Democratic one, to about $20,000,000,000,000 – while if that were presented balance-sheet style, with federal assets such as 85% of the land in Nevada offsetting it, it would not seem so scary, but it still seems out of control. Almost no liberals seem aware that making workers more expensive is certain to cut demand for them. There are many financial luxuries, from farm subsidies to the National Endowment for the Arts, which we simply cannot afford to cover with taxpayer’s money.
Johnson’s platform, posted in detail on www.johnsonweld.com/issues, not only generally takes the best from the Democratic and Republican sides, but adds planks neither one has. He advocates, and will work for, tax reform to reward “productivity, savings and investment.” He stands for congressional term limits. He wants to do what he and his running mate William Weld did in the states they governed, New Mexico and Massachusetts, to cut their unemployment, both absolutely and relative to others. He would be better on one issue than any of the others, as “having served as a Governor of a border state” he knows that “solving immigration problems is not as easy as building a wall or simply offering amnesty.” He would push for criminal justice reform, especially by reducing drug-related incarceration, and would turn a great federal expense into a large revenue source by “legalizing and regulating marijuana.” He would keep abortion legal, and would not only allow more local discretion in school policy, but would eliminate the Department of Education. He would avoid protectionism. He has pledged to submit a balanced federal budget, as he and Weld did with their states. More critical than any one of these stances is that, in order to succeed with them, he would be forced to be bipartisan by getting approval for his efforts from both sides. It is clear to me that if Johnson had been nominated as a Republican, he would now be way ahead of Clinton and everyone else.
We do have viable alternatives. Of the four most prominent presidential candidates, three would not disgrace the office, and would, in the main, represent the country well. It is reasonable to choose Clinton or Stein instead of Johnson. As for opening up our choice to all four, if 2016 is not the year we should seriously consider those other than Democrats or Republicans, what one will be? This time, it allows us to choose the best candidate, the choice of whom is clearer than it has been for several election cycles.
Royal Flush Press endorses Gary Johnson for president.