We already know that there are a great many Americans who are unhappy that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are our two options for President come November. As a result, the door has been opened for third party candidates, individuals who hope to take advantage of America’s need for a multitude of voices and a multitude of options for the direction of the country. Unfortunately, that third party candidate is Gary Johnson.
Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, has quite loudly declared himself to be the third-party option for all of those who don’t want to vote for Trump or Clinton. His argument is that this government system hasn’t been working, and we need to elect someone different, play by a different set of rules in order to get the country back on track.
The notion of a third-party candidate is a good one, one that works for the health of the country, and encourages a discussion that will allow many different voices to be heard. The Libertarian party is a good option for many Americans who like the economic mentality of the Republicans, but aren’t willing to participate in many of their social ideals. The notion that individuals and businesses should operate outside of the jurisdiction of the government has validity, at the very least a place in the conversation. Gary Johnson, though, is not running as a libertarian. He’s running as “the other guy”. And it isn’t working.
Gary Johnson’s primary goal as a candidate is to NOT be the other two. All of his ads talk about who he isn’t, his website boasting all of the ills of the other candidates. If your complaint is that the other candidates are running smear campaigns, you have an obligation to run an issues-based campaign, something that Johnson has seemed almost determined not to do.
Worse, we have seen gaffes by the candidate on a frightening level. Sure, the Aleppo incident could have easily been a moment of nervousness, a human moment. Even presidential candidates are allowed to be human. The problem is, you can’t do it twice, and he most certainly did. When asked to name a foreign leader he admired, he couldn’t think of a single name. Couldn’t think of one. And while this may seem to be a minute issue, it is a demonstration of a lack of poise and a lack of diplomacy, two of the essential characteristics required of a president.
Gary Johnson has made it abundantly clear that he wants to be president. What he hasn’t done is give Americans nearly enough of a reason to believe that he should be. And, as voters begin to consider what they should do on November 8th, this is not the year to gamble with a bet on a candidate who both won’t and shouldn’t be elected. This year, as America confronts the reality of two very different, dramatic directions for the country, it is not the time to cast a vote for a man who has made it abundantly clear that he not only lacks the poise to be president, but also lacks the ability to gain any kind of momentum to make the point he is attempting to make.
Hopefully, in the next decade, we will see a rise in third party candidates worthy of their positions. Hopefully, we will see men and women with dedicated conviction to their issues, and a willingness to put themselves out there to discuss those issues fully. The reality of today, though, is that we aren’t there yet, and voting for a man who is a bad example of a good idea is a misguided version of the elections process.