Nicholas Rogers works in the railway industry and is a former Conservative councillor.
If I said there was a likable, principled, honest candidate for president with an outstanding record in public office and a history of reaching out beyond narrow party lines, I suspect many would struggle to match that description with either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
Neither Hillary nor Trump are likeable, neither have any discernible principles and neither have strong relationships with the truth. Trump has never held public office and Hillary’s record in the offices she has held is pallid. As for reaching beyond party lines, these are two of the most polarising politicians in recent history. 57 per cent of voters have a negative opinion of Trump and 52 per cent have a negative view of Hillary. If either of them wins, a significant section of the American populace will actively despise their own president.
Is it any wonder that these two postmodern political creations catalyse such anger? Hillary is under investigation by the FBI for misconduct in public office while Trump sees no problem in personally insulting anyone who challenges him, even mocking a disabled reporter. Hillary has never taken a position before it was politically expedient for her to do so – gay marriage, for example – while Trump simply makes up his policies as he goes along. Hillary is an almost pathological liar while Trump goes out of his way to alienate people.
Americans must look at these two and despair. Is this the best that the United States of America, the world’s preeminent nation, can produce? It is no surprise that people are looking elsewhere. Polls suggest that an increasing number of Americans are willing to consider a third party, 65 per cent of voters in a recent poll by Data Targeting.
But when they look, who will they find? They will find that likable, principled, honest candidate for president with an outstanding record in public office and a history of reaching out beyond narrow party lines, the only other candidate who will be on the ballot in all fifty states.
They will find Governor Gary Johnson.
The presumptive Libertarian Party nominee may be the most credible candidate for the presidency this year. A successful entrepreneur, he built his one-man business into New Mexico’s largest company before turning to politics, where he defeated the incumbent governor as a Republican in a state that was two-to-one Democrat. He was elected on a platform of small-government and individual liberty and he stuck to his principles. He reduced taxes and the size of state government, he fought for school vouchers and vetoed more bills than all other governors combined. He took a state with a significant deficit and left it a billion-dollar surplus. He remained pro-immigration while running a border state and was the highest ranking elected official to call for the legalisation of cannabis.
In other words, he has a strong record of achievement and knows what it means to govern. By contrast, Hillary could not name her chief accomplishment in office when asked and Trump’s key achievement is managing to bankrupt a casino – no mean feat.
On a personal level the curious voter will find a lot to like. This is a man who has climbed the highest mountain on all seven continents, who has competed in ironman triathlons, who bikes and balloons and hikes; an outdoorsman in the great American tradition. A competitor, yet more down-to-earth than any other politician you’ll meet.
People are beginning to look, and seriously. Though he is not yet the official Libertarian Party nominee, Gary Johnson polled at ten per cent in a recent poll and at 14 per cent in his home state of New Mexico. Though there are significant barriers to success, a Johnson victory is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Historically third parties have not fared well at the federal level. But this is an exceptional year and the major parties are offering exceptionally bad candidates. It is also true that some on both sides of the aisle will be turned off by some aspects of Johnson’s politics. Some Republicans, for example, may find his pro-pot, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage stances hard to stomach while some Democrats may blanche at his preference for ultra-low taxes and eliminating regulation.
However, many in the Republicans and Democrats will recoil from the derogation of principle necessary to support their own parties’ nominees. Are small-government Republicans really going to line up behind Mr. Eminent Domain? Can Bernie Sanders’s anti-war supporters in all conscience vote for the bomber of Libya? These are the people who will look hard at Gary Johnson in the coming months.
Johnson himself is convinced this is Libertarian Party’s breakthrough year. “I don’t know how you set the dinner table any more favourably for a Libertarian candidate”, he told the New York Times. He is also convinced that the key to unlocking this potential is his presence on the presidential debate stage and is currently suing the GOP and Democrat-run Commission on Presidential Debates under anti-trust law in order to gain access to that stage, although given his recent polling numbers it is entirely possible that Johnson will hit the Commission’s required 15 per cent national support. If he is included in the debates, the contrasts with bully Trump and slippery Hillary will be stark.
But success for the Libertarian Party does not necessarily mean winning the presidency. Gary Johnson ran in 2012 and polled one per cent of the popular vote. Anything over five per cent would be a breakthrough and given the unusual dynamics of this election that feels conservative. A strong performance will mean more donors, more members and more success in down-ballot races, which in turn will give a strong base from which to fight future federal races. Gary Johnson may not become the first Libertarian president but there is no doubt that he will be the man who opens the floodgates to a host of successful Libertarian candidates at all levels of government.
So to those Democrats and Republicans looking with increasing disquiet at November’s options, I have one piece of advice:
Google Gary Johnson.