Op/Ed: Gary Johnson to the Rescue? We'll See Soon.
Bernie Sanders isn’t backing down, and he’s increasingly alienating the Democratic Party. The strangest and perhaps most exciting news as of late is that Bernie is going to debate with Donald Trump just before the California primary, an almost must-win for Bernie if he wants to have any chance of swaying more superdelegates and upsetting Clinton. According to Jane Kim, supervisor of San Francisco’s District 6, Sander’s remaining in the race and debating with Trump is a good thing: “Having a debate [on the issues] is strengthening the Democratic Party… The Democratic Party has grown 218% here in the state of California!” Clinton has decided to sit this one out.
A recent poll showed that Sanders is making ground on Clinton in California at a tight 44 percent to her 46 percent, and numerous polls have shown the race between Trump and Sanders would give the Democrats a greater chance of winning the White House. Still, it’s almost mathematically impossible for Sanders to win the Democratic nomination.
A lot of people are wondering why Sanders has stayed in the game when he’s clearly losing so badly. Sure, he could influence policy farther left. But here’s another theory: Sanders isn’t stupid, and he’s got a plan Because he’s targeting the Democratic Party as well as the Republicans now, my guess is that a third-party run is not impossible and may even be his planned course of action. Putting himself one-on-one against Trump means Sanders is making an even greater effort than before to show that he is the one to take on the mogul-turned-politician, and he could be very successful, considering Trump’s shaky and often inappropriate debate record.
Many worry a third-party run like this would fracture the Democratic Party and hand the White House to Trump, though. The ideal situation would be a third-party contender from the right as well. This election has shown that anything is possible with Trump leading the GOP, so I won’t count it out.
In fact, there’s recent news that Libertarian and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson would be a good pick for this. A survey released by Morning Consult showed Clinton with 38 percent of the vote, Trump with 35, and Johnson with 10 (the rest, undecided). A Monmouth University survey from March backs this up with Clinton at 42 percent, Trump 34 percent, and Johnson 11 percent. On top of this, a massive 47 percent of voters have said they’d consider a third-party candidate.
Look at a chart of favorability ratings election to election, and you’ll see a major spike when it comes to Hillary versus Donald. Trump’s is over 50 percent, and Clinton’s hovers just below 40 percent. Gary will win the election when pigs fly, but he could shake things up. The Libertarian Party will hold its nominating convention Memorial Day weekend in Orlando, so we’ll hopefully be hearing some interesting and exciting news from them soon.
One reason why Johnson could be even more influential than the polls show this early on is that he is a remarkably strong candidate when it comes to stealing votes from Trump and Sanders, if Sanders goes for it, too. Sanders and Trump supporters alike are sick of the status quo and cheer on political outsiders. Plenty of Sanders supporters are, at heart, Libertarians who primarily vote for social freedom and equality for all. Trump supporters are similarly Libertarian (besides their backwards social views)– they want their guns and an isolationist America-first foreign policy. In other words, a Libertarian policy.
Trump’s unlikeable, but he’s the only choice for those who lean right – until Gary Johnson enters the stage and shows that someone on the right side is still intellectually open, well-educated on the issues, and experienced on the political stage. I, for one, am really excited for the idea of a Gary Johnson run. His chances of winning are slim as hell, but he’d at least get the Libertarian Party a step closer to entering future presidential nominations as a choice equally legitimate to the Democratic and Republican parties.
Gary Johnson is not going to have some miraculous win in this election. I’m not a complete fool, even though I am hopeful. The bottom line is, his influence could be great, greater than a third-party candidate’s has been in a very long time.