Gary Johnson to seek LP nomination?
It might be too good to be true. From the Daily Caller:
Long excluded from the Republican presidential debates, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is now seriously considering a third party run for president in 2012.
Johnson, should he decide to run as third party candidate, could act as a spoiler by siphoning away much-needed votes from the GOP nominee. Veteran Republican strategist Roger Stone, a Johnson supporter, told The Daily Caller earlier this month that such an effort would “pose a great danger for the Republicans” if they nominate a candidate like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
This is one of the reasons why I think we desperately need to switch to approval voting. Anytime anyone thinks of making an independent or third party run in order to get around the deliberately unfair system, others chime in “But ooooohhhh noooo! That’ll be a spoiler! The other guy who we really don’t want to win will win! You can’t do that! Besides, you’d just waste your vote!”
Baloney. Voting is about choosing the person who best fits your views. There is no such thing as a “wasted vote,” unless you vote for someone who you really don’t agree with. If I voted for, say, Newt Gingrich (which I won’t), I would wasting my vote. This is the fundamental axiom of democracy. It fails when we all engage in tactical voting.
Then, of coures, there’s the GOP’s utter stupidity:
Last week, however, the RNC delivered their final verdict: Johnson, a two-term governor of a key swing state, would not receive any assistance from the party.
“We simply have to have some minimum criteria in order for candidates to participate in these debates,” RNC chief counsel John Phillipe wrote in a letter to Johnson. “Otherwise, the debates would be utter chaos and unhelpful to Republican voters as we select our nominee. The criteria chosen were aimed primarily at ensuring that only candidates exhibiting minimum indicia of viability would be allowed to participate. A candidate can establish that he or she has met this threshold by hitting certain fundraising targets or achieving a minimum level of support in public polling.”
Meeting that “minimum criteria,” his sympathizers point out, has been impossible for Johnson because he has been excluded from major polls for months. It’s a catch-22 for his campaign that Slate’s Dave Weigel, among others, have begun to call “The Gary Johnson rule.”
Right. Leave out a two-term governor of a state that is 2-1 Democrat. That’s not just dumb; that’s painfully dumb. It appears that the party has no real interest in capturing the presidency.
If Johnson does seek and obtain the Libertarian Party nomination, what will happen will depend on what Ron Paul does. If Ron Paul stays neutral, Johnson will likely pick up some support, but not much. If Ron Paul—who isn’t running for reelection in his house seat next year—throws his support behind him and endorses him, expect Johnson to get a fair bit of support. Not enough to win, mind you, or really shake up anything, but he might be able to get 3-5% of the vote. (If he does get 5%, he would make the Libertarian Party eligible for public funding—which will be very interesting for such an anti-statist party to deal with.)
I also think Johnson could easily get disgruntled Democrats under his banner. Lots of liberals are upset that Obama hasn’t ended the Drug War, hasn’t stopped the foreign adventures, and is being more or less lukewarm on gay rights. Again, I don’t think it would be enough to dramatically shake things up, but it would be enough to get the message out there and say “Hey! There are alternatives!” That alone would be enough, I think, enough to set up some real victories in ten years. (2016 is still probably too early.)
In other words, I don’t think Johnson would be a spoiler that would ruin the election for Republicans. I think he would draw equally from both parties, from their bases that are fed up, disgruntled, and just plain disappointed with how their parties are turning out. I say, “Gary, run for the Libertarians. Get the message out there. The GOP has turned its back on you; there is no shame on turning your back on them. You can do it.”
It would only be a good thing.