Bring Your Pencil
By Patrick F. Cannon
In last Sunday’s edition, the venerable Chicago Tribune, that bastion of conservative Republican values, couldn’t bring itself to endorse Donald Trump for President; nor could they find it in their hearts to once again endorse a Democrat, as they had done with Barack Obama. While recognizing her experience and undoubted intelligence, the Tribune editorial board found it impossible to overlook Hillary Clinton’s long history of secrecy and what to many seems like a persistent pattern of outright lying.
So they decided to endorse Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. Now, Johnson – a two term governor of New Mexico – is now best known for not seeming to know what was going on in Aleppo, and for forgetting the name of the former president of Mexico. Frankly, off the top of my head I don’t know who he was either, but Johnson was a neighbor and I guess met him on occasion. His running mate is William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, who has also served as a US Attorney. Together, they have the executive government experience that both Trump and Clinton lack.
If they were the Republican candidates, I would not hesitate to vote for them. But, like many I’m sure, I have the nagging suspicion that voting for them would primarily help Trump, whose election would be a catastrophe for the country. For this reason, my wife Jeanette thinks the Tribune made a serious mistake in endorsing Johnson. Better, she thinks, not to have endorsed anyone.
She may be right. The last time there was a serious third-party candidate was 1992 when Ross Perot received almost 19 percent of the popular vote. Some folks at the time claimed that, absent Perot, George H.W. Bush would have beaten Bill Clinton. Actual analysis of Perot voters suggest that he took votes fairly equally from both and that Bush was going to lose anyway.
What would happen this time? Keep in mind that both Johnson and Weld were Republican governors, known for their fiscal restraint. Would disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters really vote for candidates that would likely tell them to stop whining and pay off their student loans? (A brief aside. When Calvin Coolidge was urged to forgive Great Britain’s World War I debt, he responded: “They hired the money, didn’t they?”) Or would they hold their noses and vote for Clinton, who has happily promised them a free ride (while knowing full well that Congress isn’t likely to go along).
So, my thought is that Republicans unhappy with Trump are more likely to vote for former Republicans Johnson and Weld than Hillary Clinton, thus making her chances better. Please keep in mind, however, that I’m the one who said Trump would never have enough support to get the nomination.
As for me, I plan to write in Lewis Black, who is younger than either candidate, and has a master’s degree from Yale into the bargain. So what if he’s a Socialist? He’s a funny Socialist! Also, he’s not married. Think about it.
Copyright 2016, Patrick F. Cannon