I’m going to talk about an experience every Pragmatic Progressive has dealt with over the last several months, certainly the last several days since Hillary Clinton officially clinched the nomination. Namely, the childishness of the #BernieOrBust crowd who are now playing with the ridiculous idea of voting for Jill Stein, former physician and presidential candidate for the Green Party or former New Mexico governor, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate.
We have seen Donald Trump sink to new lows of cartoonish bullying and outright insanity, from insulting grieving parents of fallen soldiers to, and I can’t believe I’m saying this – berating a crying infant. Donald J. Trump is an existential threat to American Democracy, Western Civilization and possibly mankind itself. As now, the Republican establishment are running away from Donald Trump in droves. Also, as has been exhaustively explained by others on line and speakers at the DNC, Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most prepared (serving as the First Lady and former policy advisor, Senator of New York and Secretary of State) and most vetted and honest (yes, Emos, that’s right) politicians every to run for President in modern times. Most sane people realize that Clinton is the only real choice that will keep us from falling into chaos.
Still, there are Bernie Supporters who are either in their feelings about the anticlimactic Russian sponsored email dump from WikiLeaks. Others, still believing in the mythology that Hillary Clinton is modern Isabella of Castile, who would order some sort of secular Inquisition to convert white Christian men into gay atheist stockbrokers or whatever. There are other choices who really speak to "real change". “I’m not going to support Clinton just because Trump might be President”, you’ve heard disaffected dissidents of the Far Left say over and over.
Okay, kids, as the President famously said to the GOP in 2011, its time to eat our peas. Even if a swindler who has fantasized about sleeping with his own daughter wasn’t in this race and it was down to Clinton, Stein and Johnson, Clinton would still be the obvious and reasonable choice. For the TPV team, I’d liked to lay out exactly why Clinton is the obvious choice without even mention Trump. Specifically, I’m going to discuss how and why the two top third party candidates are ridiculous choices for reasonable liberals and even fair minded conservatives.
As someone who worked in the Green Party during the Bush years, I’d like to dispel the myth that Third Party candidate are excluded simply because of the two party duopoly in American politics, the “both sides” argument. The main reason why so many third party candidates are considered mainstream is specifically because third party tend to cater to the most extreme ideas in the political spectrum, have little to no interests in building a national platform by supporting local candidates who can make real impact and more glaringly, fielding candidates whose temperament and lack of credentials have no business running for President. This couldn’t more glaring 2016 – where people are toying with the idea of playing with two loons who don’t seem to understand that they’re running for President of the United States. Let’s start with the least offensive of the dynamic duo, Gary Johnson.
Gary Johnson – the Dude Bro Republican
Of the three featherweights running against Clinton, I personally find Gary Johnson, the least offensive, despite the fact that his ideas are downright horrible (I’ll get to those in a minute). I don’t agree with Johnson’s pro-corporate, anarchist remedies to our structural and social ills. But Gary Johnson was a governor. He’s not some Johnny Come Lately crank who never won dog catcher. Unlike Stein and the other guy, Gary Johnson has a record of what he would do and could do as a state executive. Whether you agree with his idea or not, he actually has some experience related to being President. Also, I agree with Johnson on his long standing opposition to the War on Drugs and his position on Immigration. The problems mostly stem from his toxic Ayn Rand philosophy and his questionable stances on social issues.
First, because he has a record, we kind of now he’ll govern, and frankly it’s not that great. Instead of actually finding common ground with New Mexico legislature, Gary Johnson used his veto power over 700 times. Just think about that for a second, instead of working with his legislature to fix problems – he basically sat on his hands and blocked much of anything getting done. If you’re going to block everything, why bother taking the job in the first place? That kind of stubborn management style is not a great stance for liberals, because that’s pretty much the philosophy of the Tea Party led Congress, sit on their duff until these stupid Pinko Commies like Obama (and Boehner?) stop making them do this government stuff.
Second issue with Johnson for any serious liberal is his actual platform. According to On the Issues website, Johnson’s policy positions include but are not limited to:
· Eliminate Corporate Taxes
· Opposes Hate Crime Legislation
· Eliminate the Department of Education
· Opposes Cap & Trade
· Wants to abolish Obama Care
· Slash foreign aid by over 40%
· Abolish the TSA
· Opposes Government Stimulus
· Abolish IRS and create a “Fair Tax” and a 23% national sales tax
· Raise the Retirement Age to 72
· Privatize Social Security
· Supports Expansion of Private Prisons.
· Wants to federal science spending (including stem cell research and NASA) by over 40%
· Abolish federal student loans
· Going Full French and forcing Muslim women to remove burkas. (No, that’s not a misprint)
To quote Samantha Bee, I only agree with every other thing Gary Johnson says. In short, he’s a libertarian Dude Bro President – sure he’ll get legalized prostitution, we’d likely not get into stupid wars and nobody would go to jail for a reefer. But Johnson, like other far right paleo conservatives, ultimately doesn’t full understand and appreciate what a modern government would look like and be more than willing to rip it apart to meet some Utopia laid out in Atlas Shrugged.
Even when he says something I do agree with it, Johnson says something patently absurd or offers liberals little to no answer on policy, because policy would mean the government would have to do something. Let’s take his answer on Black Lives Matter. Yes, unlike many conservatives, Johnson realizes that BLM activists have something to say about how we police our inner city and other minority communities, much to ire of conservatives who wish “The Negroes would shut and stop robbing people”. That much aligns with his overall belief that we as a nation over police our population and the idea of general fairness under the law. However, when asked for actual policy position, he offers, well, nothing. Nothing on gun control or making national changes in our public safety policy. Despite the complaints of many BLM and pro civil rights advocates that Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a “Day One Plan” or that she’s personally to blame for mass incarceration (while supporting a guy who actually signed the crime bill, but whatever), she actually has exhaustive policy positions to deal with issues brought up by BLM. Gary Johnson, not so much. This disconnect between personal belief and public policy mostly stems from Gary Johnson belief that best government is a hands off government, which is not proven out by current events or history. Also, let’s not forget that Gary Johnson’s brand of Koch Brothers governance left New Mexico as one of the poorest states in the Union.
Finally, and this just me being personally nitpicky, but Gary Johnson loves to talk about how he’s a macho outdoorsman, the Marlboro Man among a field of doughy patricians. When asked about his opposition to Trump, Gary Johnson bizarrely starts talking about how he’s an extreme athlete. He eventually gets around to policy differences, but it’s just weird that the first thing he mentions is the fact that he’s really into mountain climbing. Even his running mate, Bill Weld, started conversation about how much of a badass endurance athlete Johnson is. Look, I get it, I’m a marathoner and love to talk about running. But it’s a really bizarre machismo to make this a selling point of your campaign of President. But, then again, Libertarians by nature are just bizarre people. If you’re a liberal who seriously cares about civil rights, the environment, education or hell just treating Zika, probably shouldn’t look to a pot loving, Ayn Rand disciple with a triathlon fetish as the anti-Hillary.
Jill Stein – the Crazy Cat Lady of Politics
What’s wrong with Jill Stein you say? She’s a progressive with a long track record of fighting against injustice and she’s certainly more honest that $Hillary. Sigh, this bothers me, because as TPV long timers know, I used to be in the Green Party. And frankly, I left the party officially in 2007 because it was overrun by people like Jill Stein, rich hippie know-nothings who lack basic understanding of the world, but so ready to the Man. I often call Jill Stein, a Harvard educated Physician, the Crazy Cat Lady of Politics. This isn’t about her gender – this about the fact that if you strip back the wealth (she grew up in Chicago’s affluent Highland Park, Ill. and lives in Lexington, Mass – the 6th wealthiest area in America. She’s not poor by any measure.) and her Harvard education, she sounds like every tinfoil crackpot I met in my days of canvassing – a person (usually a woman) with four foot stacks of old newspapers and several mangy tabbies scurrying around the domicile, constantly screaming about some imagined government plot to kill us all. Short version, her policy ideas are Hodge podge far left lunacy. Let’s take short list of Jill Stein’s Greatest Hits (of the Bong) over Policy:
· She’s anti-GMO. I know GMO’s are controversial, but frankly, that’s mostly internet fear mongering with little to no basis in actual science. Most times, anti-GMO is relatively innocuous. If you’re willing to spend extra money with no demonstrable difference in health benefits or calories, knock yourself out. However, there are few issues in terms of policy that should make serious thinking liberals nervous. First, the anti GMO movement has blocked lifesaving foodstuffs from making its way to market and put farmers out of business. It’s the worse form of limousine liberalism - rich white people forcing ridiculous ideas on everyone else, even if it’s to their detriment, because, well they’re rich and white. But more importantly, being anti-GMO is usually a sign of being an all-around anti science quack. Because if you think modern farming will turns us into zombies, chances are you believe in other conspiracy theories about, say autism and vaccines which leads to the even scarier issue.
· Jill Stein is an anti-vaxxer. Yes, dear friends you read that right, a Harvard educated physician is actually debating the well-established benefits of vaccination for reasons. That sentence alone should end the discussion, as a President Stein would serve as a risk to public health. This nut job doctor shouldn’t be allowed within 20 feet of your child, let alone the White House. She also believes that cellphones cause cancer. Yup, she literally wants to be fitted for a tinfoil hat.
· She has no real ideas, only platitudes. Let’s take her idea to cancel all college debt because we “bailed out the banks”. First, the bailouts weren’t a free check from the Fed, it was a loan, that banks more or less paid back to the US government. And second, Jill Stein’s idea to cancel private college loans would more or less only help other well-heeled white professionals. This was the problem with Sanders, but it’s also very glaring issues for Stein. She’s ballyhooing public policies with the foggiest ideas what the nuts and bolts of said policies entail.
· Jill Stein would cut overseas bases, across the board, by 50%. Now while that sounds like a wonderful ideal, again we live in the real world. With Trump’s BFF, Vladimir Putin, looking to rebuild the Soviet Union and groups like ISIL spreading terror throughout the world – taking our ball and going home simply isn’t a practical solution.
· Her platform is more platitudes than policy. Jill Stein’s policy ideas either direct copy and paste from Sanders’ platform or a collection of left wing magical thinking without any serious explanation on how to get it done. Again, this a serious consideration – if you want to run for President, you need to have substance to your ideas. Hillary Clinton, of course, has mountains of substance. And even if his policy ideas are mostly corporatist insanity, Gary Johnson has real policy ideas. Stein’s Presidential Website reads more like a dream board than a plan to actually serve the American people. Stein’s candidacy is the mouthpiece for Left Wing Outrage, just as the other guy is the embodied id of bigots and xenophobes. If you’re serious about actually fixing the nation’s problems, your candidate should at least have a real track record and clear vision for where he or she wants this country to be.
· Oh, and on top of that, she’s kind of nasty piece of work, as evidence in her pile on with the Orange One’s call for Russia to hack into the DNC and her nasty (and now deleted) tweet more or less calling Hillary Clinton a crappy mother. Really, what kind of woman in politics goes after another female politician’s ability to raise her kids?
Note that I’ve tried my hardest to avoid mentioning Donald Trump in this post, because he’s not really the issue when talking about third party candidates. Even when you take out a mouth-breathing, know-nothing bigot like Trump, you’re still comparing Hillary Clinton against two clowns who’s records and ideas are hilarious absurd (100% renewable in under 14 years is in the celestial pastry category of wishful thinking) to outright evil (Gary Johnson’s love of private prisons in New Mexico led to a Hellscape for inmates). If you’re serious about changing your country, the milquetoast moderate is your only real options. Beyond the fact that the third party candidates can’t actually win, they’re just as (or in the case of Stein, even more embarrassingly less) qualified than the Orange Hair Tyrant in Waiting from the GOP. So grow up and eat your damn peas already.