Gary Johnson can’t win, and ironically, that’s why you should vote for him.
I can already hear the objections being shouted at computer and phone screens everywhere:
“But he’s a liberal!”
“He’s just the lesser of three evils!”
“If I won’t violate my principles for Trump, why would I violate them for Johnson?”
I sympathize with those objections, and worked through them myself only when it became evident that no one representing any portion of my values had a viable path to the White House in 2016. At that point, I realized that we have to start thinking beyond 2016, and planning ahead – being proactive rather than reactive.
If conservatives cannot cobble together a majority in their own party and thus remain unrepresented in the GOP, perhaps it’s time we change the math to correspond with the political reality of our generation. There are not two political persuasions, but three: conservative, liberal, and centrist.
As it is, centrists and independents are forced to vote for one of the two major parties beholden to their respective bases. But on the right, it is now apparent that centrists are no longer fighting for a voice – they are the majority, and conservatives are the minority.
And in politics, without a majority, you are nothing.
Conservatives have been voted off the island, and we need a new home. Right now no third party represents a real challenge to the duopoly, but with historically unpopular nominees in both parties, that could change this year – introducing the possibility that future elections could feature three choices rather than two. But that can’t happen without a unified and concerted effort to push a single third party over the 5% threshold and into major status.
Right now only one third party is positioned to gain ballot access in all 50 states – a huge hurdle for a new party and a prerequisite for any meaningful protest vote – and that’s the Libertarian Party.
It’s true that the LP’s platform is in dire need of reform, and that its nominee is less libertarian than roughly half of the GOP primary candidates, but that’s precisely where their inability to actually win this time becomes an asset.
Gary Johnson can’t win, and will never set policy, therefore Gary Johnson’s policy preferences are irrelevant.
I don’t much care about the political views of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, because his views don’t have any bearing on national policy. Similarly, Gary Johnson can believe whatever he wants, because he’s never going to get the chance to implement anything.
The basis of principled voting isn’t about feelings. I don’t oppose Trump because I don’t *like* his opinions. If I were hiring him as a marketing agent or a real estate agent, I really wouldn’t care that he’s a New York liberal. But since he has a chance of winning the presidency and imposing his liberal values on me, I’m forced to oppose him. Ditto for Hillary.
See, the downside of voting third party is mitigated by their inability to win the current general election, but the upside is enhanced by the fact that once elevated to major status, their primaries will matter in the future – and not only present conservatives another choice in their political affiliation, but also give them the power to leverage parties against one another and pull them our way on policy.
Here’s how it works.
If the Libertarian Party reaches 5% in the general election this year, they will become eligible for federal funds, which in turn encourages more investment both by donors and influential political figures, which results in greatly-enhanced competitiveness in 2020 and beyond.
Why should conservatives care about the success of a third party?
Because we have to reduce the majority ratios to be relevant again. We’ve established that conservatives have lost sway within the GOP, but if a third party becomes electorally relevant, the mathematical parameters can be altered to make a minority relevant through coalition.
This works equally whether the new party is on the ideological left or right. A party is just a container, waiting to be filled by political activists and their ideals.
Track with me here.
If the new major party is on the right, then it will become the far right party to counter the leftward drift of the GOP. Conservatarians from the GOP will shift to this third party, and moderate democrats will shift right to the now-centrist Republican Party, leaving the Democrat party to the Sanders socialist types.
If the new party is on the left, the same effect will happen in the opposite direction. If Bernie Sanders endorses Jill Stein and leads a leftward exodus from the Democrat Party, the Democrat party will become more centrist (in membership, not necessarily in platform). Moderates in the GOP would then have more in common with the Democrats, and the Republican party would once again be the party of the right.
Those of us who believe in the free market know that competition promotes excellence, but for some reason many people abandon this thinking when it comes to elections.
Maybe it’s time to reinvest the efforts we’ve wasted on primary battles in which we are no longer competitive, and focus on securing the benefits of a party that can be reformed to actually represent our values, with the understanding that platforms are more easily changed than ballot access.
Maybe it’s time to reevaluate the blind reactionism and the aimless panic that has lost us game after game, and consider a new gameplan.