By Darren Johnson
I know we’re supposed to be nice to third parties — like to the kid in gym class who can’t climb the rope (who hasn’t been that kid at one point?) — but they seriously dropped the ball this presidential election.
Here we have major parties producing two of the most unlikeable candidates in the history of elections, and the two largest third parties — the Libertarians and Greens — picked the same candidates they had in 2012; Gary Johnson, who had gotten 0.9% of the vote four years ago (and only 4% in his home state of New Mexico, where he was governor), and Jill Stein, who had gotten 0.3%.
Because third parties often get sucked into their own in-fighting, or maybe they are afraid of actually creating real change, these two parties’ conventions have given us the exact same candidates for 2016. Were they thinking there’d be some kind of Election Miracle and these people would catch fire, despite that they did so horribly last time?
The reality is, these two people are boring and goofy and, while, in reality, they have much better character than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — and maybe they even have as high or higher IQs, though Johnson has shown he doesn’t have much of a grasp of basic information — most of the American electorate are grown adults.
As we get older, we get mortgages, have kids, are overwhelmed. Life becomes a big compromise. Do we take a job we really don’t like that much — sell our souls a little bit — to make sure the kids can go to dance classes and lacrosse camps? Of course we do. Most of America is not rich, and is barely scraping by, and we have responsibilities. Compromises have to be made every day; in the grocery store, buying mass market meat instead of free-range stuff, for example. Getting an minivan instead of a sports car. Wearing sensible shoes.
It’s not that average Americans relate to Trump and Clinton, but these voters are pragmatic in nature, and don’t mind the candidates’ lack of idealism all that much. Americans know these two major party candidates have made a lot of bad choices — but at least they are in the ring, making the bad choices. That beats hiding in the shadows.
The third parties selected two people who have proven to be unelectable. These two people did nothing last time. What have they done in the past four years to improve their paltry numbers? Not much but cater to the party idealists. That’s how they were renominated. For the parties, it’s loser mentality, though.
This is not to say the third parties, even if they had an A-level candidate, could win. The third parties are usually far down on the ballot, and they are not on every state’s ballot, and most voters are sheep, going with the major parties. The odds are stacked unfairly against third parties. Add that the media ignores them, largely.
Except this year, the two major party candidates are so unliked, maybe the equivalent of a Jesse Ventura circa 1999 could have, at the very least, won a few states so that neither Trump nor Clinton got a majority of the electoral college, and then the issue would have gone to congress — and maybe an even better compromise could be found.
And that’s the last word … for now.