After extensive soul searching and listening to the debate (and I am sure the future ones will be no different), watching the polls and watching this race unfold, several important facts weigh on my decision regarding who to vote for President in 2016.
First, the major party candidates and the options. I have been and will always be a #NeverTrump Republican. My original choices for the nomination went by the wayside. For the first time in my life, I made a donation to a campaign- that of Scott Walker. However, he was one of the first big names to drop out. My hopes then fell to Marco Rubio because I thought he had the best chance to defeat Hillary Clinton and still believe that to this day. His deft handling of media questions was unparalleled this past year. I understand fully that many have reservations about Rubio given his Gang of Eight participation regarding immigration reform, but unlike most I do not base a decision this important on a candidate’s views or positions on a single issue although immigration reform is a big issue. But, the fact he was duped and suffered the consequences for his actions should, one hopes, be an important political lesson for Marco Rubio. After Rubio dropped out, I became a tepid supporter of Ted Cruz, although my personal reservations about him (of which I have written) remain. However, compared to Clinton he remained a more than viable opponent and one I would have happily voted for on Election Day.
Instead, we are stuck with Donald Trump who is perhaps the least qualified major party candidate for President ever. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever to like about Trump. I have worked in an organization once owned by Trump and he is not the great businessman he holds himself out to be! That is confirmed by the many people he left in his dust in the interest of “doing business.” Trump is a scourge not upon the GOP, but upon humanity. There is no way he even comes close to satisfying the ideals our Founders sought in a President when they wrote the Constitution.
Then there is the consummate politician and Washington insider, Hillary Clinton. This is a woman who has been running for President for the better part of 25 years now. There is the air of inevitability in her approach…that the Presidency is somehow due her. It isn’t!! It should be earned and there is nothing in her Senatorial record or her stint as Secretary of State to suggest she should be President. In fact, in that latter category there is much to disqualify her (the rise of ISIS, the Syrian civil war, Libyan chaos, Benghazi, etc.).
The 2016 election provided a great opportunity to drive a stake through the political heart of Hillary Clinton. After all, no one is going to vote for a two time loser approaching 80 years of age in the future. But a plurality of GOP primary voters threw her an unnecessary life line. She called half of Trump supporters “deplorable.” I call all of them idiots and morons.
Suffice to say, I am equally proud to call myself #NeverHillary also! Hence, my next choice was no choice. I intended to walk into the voting booth and either write in some candidate, or just skip over the Presidential choice and vote for my Congressman since there is no Senatorial/Gubernatorial race in New Jersey this year. This, I justified, was a way to remain true to my principles and walk out of the voting booth with my head held high. And it still is…
However, I have decided to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for President. The main reason is that I hope that along with others, one can keep Hillary Clinton, whom I believe will be the next President of the United States, a plurality winner and under 50% much like her husband in 1992 and 1996. The hope is that lacking that magical 50% or more “mandate” will hold Hillary Clinton in check on some of her more Leftist policy proposals much as Bill Clinton had to do the same facing political reality in the aftermath of his plurality victories.
Furthermore, a worst case scenario that undo those hopes is for the House and/or Senate to fall into Democratic control. The chances of that happening are very, very low in the House, but the situation in the Senate which has to confirm Supreme Court and Executive Branch nominees is more precarious.
Johnson has his shortcomings to be sure, but they in no way approximate those of Clinton or Trump. Instead, I look for guidance from our nation’s founders and from someone who bolstered the modern conservative movement- William F. Buckley. While Governor of New Mexico, Buckley praised Johnson’s efforts in a variety of areas, notably reform of marijuana laws, but also other areas. Everything in Johnson’s tenure as Governor indicates that he would govern in a manner most in tune with the beliefs and aspirations of our Founding Fathers- small, limited government, a realistic national security policy, a simplified tax code. There are many political positions which Johnson holds that are contrary to my personal beliefs, especially in the area of abortion and same sex marriage. But political reality dictates that they would never likely see the light of day and, equally important, no one policy position informs my overall decision.
Gary Johnson will not be the next President of the United States. But anything that signals to either the more likely winner Hillary Clinton or the less likely Donald Trump that they have less than a mandate to enact their policy proposals is a win in my formulation of who to vote for come Election Day. If the train wreck of a debate proved anything, it is that the one person not on a debate stage is the only viable alternative win or lose.