2016 election pushes third party candidates into spotlight

As we slog through the infomercials for the Republican and Democratic Parties that the news media are donating to the campaigns, American voters are being presented with claims that either Berlusconi, excuse me, Trump, or Nixon, um, I mean, Clinton are inevitable as the next president.  But the polling data are forcing cracks into the traditional narrative.  As discussed by The Young Turks, one of the new media groups driving the old networks into obsolescence, there is a good chance that this election will be a three, if not four-person race.  Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party is running around ten percent in multiple polls, while Jill Stein of the Greens comes in between two to six percent.  These two third-party candidates are scoring higher than many previous outsiders despite getting none of the free advertising that Trump and Clinton have enjoyed and is not surprising, considering the strong antipathy that Americans feel toward both major party candidates.

With all this in mind, we need to take advantage of the opportunity to give some consideration to the kind of president each candidate would make.  The campaigns make all manner of promises, but voters and politicians seem to have come to an agreement not to take those seriously.  The records of the four candidates seeking the presidency and the experience of the last eight year, however, make predictions tempting.

Imagine for a moment a Clinton victory.  I’ve discussed this possibility before, noting that the Supreme Court would be the area of most damage that she could do to gun rights, but there’s another point to consider.  Barack Obama was a relative unknown when he took office in 2009.  He’d been a state and then U.S. senator, but beyond his ability to give stirring speeches, he was someone that the Republicans in Congress needed time to adapt to.  By contrast, Clinton has been on the national stage for a quarter of a century.  And Republicans have eight years of experience in dealing with a president with whom they vehemently disagree.  The hopes that many on the left have for the achievements of a Clinton presidency sound like a lot of wishful thinking, given the obstruction she would be likely to face.  That’s assuming that she would have a progressive agenda at all, something that in many respects isn’t credible.

On the other hand, Trump doesn’t seem to have any agenda beyond getting elected.  Yes, I say that in full recognition of the various stances he’s taken during the Obama years and in this election.  But given the variability in his positions over time, I can see a President Trump making deals with Democrats again and again in the interest of putting his name on legislation.  He’s willing to be offensive, but he’s not an ideologue.  His shallow answers when challenged on policy matters make me wonder if he in fact has any personal beliefs whatsoever—excepting his belief in himself.  If Congress tilts leftward as a result of Republican infighting, Trump the deal maker is someone who will chase results wherever they lead him.

If ever there were an argument for new parties, 2016’s election cycle is it.  And as mentioned above, we have the best opportunity for new people in national politics that we’ve had in a long time.  And what the Libertarian and Green Party platforms offer us is a shared commitment to individual rights.  Both oppose the abuses of government brought on by our War on Drugs and War on Terror.  Both want personal empowerment.  Where they disagree is an honest debate regarding the role that regulation and spending have in promoting their common goals.  But on fundamental questions of liberty, representative government, and the growth of American potential, their platforms are variations on a theme.

I’ve been told I’m being unrealistic here, but watching Johnson and Stein climb in the poll numbers gives me the hope that the people have figured out the train wreck that is the Republicans and Democrats.  We have a chance here to have a real contest between interesting ideas on how to achieve what we all should want, a free and prosperous nation—if we deserve that chance.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.

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