I really don’t like politics, but I feel the need to comment on this election cycle, which many agree has been crazier than most elections. The Democratic Party has nominated Hillary Clinton, and the Republican Party has nominated Donald Trump. It has been widely reported that both candidates have unfavorable ratings in the range of 50% to 60%, or even higher, making them the most unpopular major party candidates in a very long time.
Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party has nominated Gary Johnson. Despite the fact that he has received considerably less media attention than the major party candidates, there is still about 10% or more of the electorate saying they would vote for him. Probably as a result of wanting more information, polls have indicated that a majority of voters wanted to see him included in the first presidential debate on September 26. Unfortunately, the debate commission decided not to include him.
It seems that a lot of voters feel the need to vote for Trump, just to make sure that Clinton is not elected. And similarly, a lot of voters will pick Clinton, just to avoid a Trump presidency. Of course, there are some voters who truly believe their favorite is a good choice. So as a thought experiment, let me make up some numbers here. Let’s suppose 20% of the voters really want a Clinton presidency, and 20% really want to elect Trump. And as I’ve noted, let’s say 10% are supporting Johnson. That leaves 50% of the voters in the “reluctant voter” pool, who are mostly voting against a “bad candidate,” rather than for someone they’re enthusiastic about.
I suspect it’s almost impossible to find someone who likes both Trump and Clinton. This means that Johnson is at least the second choice, if not the first choice, for almost everybody.
Here’s an idea. I think Gary Johnson would make a great “unity candidate.”
What if the 50% (the “reluctant voters”) choose Johnson instead of a major party candidate? He would be at least their second choice. Add that to the 10% support he has now, and he wins the election in a landslide.
(Actually, we don’t need a landslide. Maybe Johnson gets 40% and the others 30% each. After he completed two terms as governor of New Mexico, Johnson climbed Mount Everest in 2003; surely he can get to 40% by November 8!)
Let’s compare the results. If Clinton or Trump wins, there will be a large number of Americans who think we have elected one of the worst presidents ever. And the new president will start off with an unfavorable view by a majority of voters. In that case, I would expect four (or eight) more years of political divisiveness. On the other hand, if Johnson wins, most people will say he wasn’t their first choice, but he’s not so bad, and at least we avoid the “calamity” of electing Trump/Clinton.
Also consider this. One hundred and fifty-six years ago, the nation was even more divided than it is now. We elected a unity candidate from a recently formed third party. His name was Abraham Lincoln. And I think that choice worked out pretty well.