Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and all the other assorted minor party candidates won’t admit it, but it’s a simple fact that the electoral system in the United States is set up for two candidates to face off against each other. The Founders largely imagined this taking place outside of the realm of political parties, but that’s not how things wound up. Democrats and Republicans rule the roost, and they will continue to do so as long as the minor parties only appear on the radar during presidential season, beg for votes from people pissed off at the major parties, then fade into the background again.
Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld used to be a “not insane” Republican, which is probably why he has distanced himself from the GOP and is currently the Libertarian party’s vice presidential candidate. But the man at the top of the Libertarian ticket, Gary Johnson, has been saying some off the wall things lately that have weakened his support, which was not bad for a “third-party” candidate, but not nearly enough to get him elected even before he made a series of gaffes. And since Weld is not insane, he has apparently come to realize that mission #1 is to see that the only way Donald Trump ever makes it to the White House is on a tour.
On Tuesday Weld told the Boston Globe that he intends to spend the remainder of the presidential campaign attacking Trump, in an attempt to make sure the GOP candidate is defeated in November. The Globe reports that Weld is trying to position himself as a player in the rebuilding of the Republican party that will come following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Donald. The report notes that this is a major shift for Weld, who just a few months ago declared himself a Libertarian for life.
With this move, Weld is acknowledging what everyone except perhaps a small group of hardcore Johnson supporters already know — that the Johnson/Weld ticket will not win the election. And it has created some anger among Libertarians who had questioned Weld’s loyalty to their party from the beginning. But Weld insists that by going full-bore into attacks on Trump his goal is to put the Republican ticket in third place. He told the Globe,
“I have had in mind all along trying to get the Donald into third place, and with some tugging and hauling, we might get there.”
I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were him. Gary Johnson has a slim chance of winning exactly one state — New Mexico, where he served as governor. Even there, where he is polling at 24 percent, he is still in third place behind Clinton and Trump.
Bill Weld is a well-respected moderate voice, and attacking Trump may help push some voters from the Libertarian or even Green party to Clinton if they realize their candidate is not going to win. In a normal election year, you would expect Libertarians to take votes away from the Republican ticket. But this isn’t a normal year, and polls indicate in many states Johnson and Weld are actually drawing voters from the Democrat. Weld’s former chief of staff Mark Robinson says the former governor doesn’t want to be in the position of being blamed for a potential Trump victory.
“He [Weld] certainly doesn’t want to be in that position where Trump could win and people would be blaming him.”
Which is a big improvement over Ralph Nader, who helped elect George W. Bush with a left-wing insurgent campaign that siphoned votes from Al Gore with the claim there was no difference between the two major candidates. Tell that to all the people who died in Iraq. Trump is Bush on steroids — ten times as loud and at least twice as dumb. And Bill Weld, one of few remaining Republicans with a conscience, isn’t about to have a Trump victory blamed on him.
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