My Endorsement for President
The time has come for me to make a formal endorsement in the Presidential contest. Given the unparalleled strangeness of this electoral season, I feel compelled to note that an endorsement is never a blank check. It is the best decision given the presently available facts and circumstances. While it would and should be rare to withdraw an endorsement, we have seen this year more than any other year that a candidate’s character may prove more problematic than it was originally thought to be. An endorsement must always be subject to revocation.
As voters, we are always making a decision about the future, using the past as our best albeit imperfect guide. We are humans making our best judgment about other humans and their ability to face future challenges. It is a sure recipe for fallibility. I suppose voters who elected Ulysses Grant and Warren Harding regretted those men turned out not to be astute judges of human character. I am sure people who voted for Richard Nixon were distraught that he allowed his paranoia to overwhelm his judgment. I know some who voted for George W. Bush were disappointed with steps that sacrificed individual liberties to the war on terror, and I can only hope that some Barack Obama voters have been troubled by his cavalier disregard for Constitutional governance and the limits on his power.
This year, however, presents a troubling and unique situation because we have two major party candidates who have both proven, before ever experiencing the tremendous pressures of the Presidency, that they lack the character to fill the office. In some ways, they are so different. One has lived a life in public office; the other has never held public office. One is a crass hater, spouting insults at all who cross his path. The other is tightly controlled, ever calculating each smile, each word, each detail. Yet as different as they are, they share the greatest character flaws. They are self-centered people willing to sacrifice anyone, any cause, and any truth at the altar of their own self-worship.
As I hear each criticize the other, I am stunned at their complete lack of self-awareness since the criticism they level at their electoral opponent almost invariably describes them as well. Trump attacks Hillary for her utterly shameless lies about her illegal mishandling of national security information without acknowledging that he too has harmed national security with his idiotic undermining of NATO and other alliances and cozying up to tinhorn dictators around the world. Hillary correctly bemoans the shocking lack of human decency of a man who ridicules the handicapped, maligns our veterans and their families, and is consistently contemptuous toward women. But she is blind to the parallels as she baldly lies to bereaved families, rallies her allies to impugn the character of sexual assault victims, and barters away the nation’s interests for her personal enrichment. No doubt in her mind, the truth is a small sacrifice to make for the greater narrative, but the greater narrative is always only Hillary. Likewise, Trump’s greater narrative is always only Trump.
Character issues precede policy analysis. Neither Trump nor Hillary is worthy of a vote to be the President of the United States because both have proven repeatedly that they have no interest other than self-interest. There is no purpose, no principle, no good they would hesitate to jettison on behalf of their all-consuming appetite for self-aggrandizement. For them, the nation itself shrinks in the shadow of their gargantuan, selfish will. They have sacrificed nothing and would sacrifice nothing of value to a greater good — for they know no good greater than themselves. They are not patriots; they are parasites.
While they have spared me this challenge, I can say firmly that I would reject both of these candidates even if I agreed with their policy positions down the line. I cannot entrust the power of the Presidency, the role as Commander in Chief of the world’s most powerful military, the nuclear codes with their capacity to destroy the human existence to such small, petty, and egocentric people.
Where can a conscientious voter turn? The natural temptation perhaps is to write in a better candidate, but in a presidential election, when a vote is really a vote for electors and write-in candidates have no corresponding slate of electors, that is the height of empty symbolism. I am willing to settle for symbolism if I have to, but if there is any chance, even a small chance of sparing the Republic the trauma that will come from either of these candidates, I feel duty-bound to pursue it.
So, I turn to Gary Johnson. I know of no character issues here. He seems to be an honorable man who has the interest of the nation at heart. He has experience in governing and has shown an ability to work with others. While I do not agree with him on a number of issues, there are some significant areas of agreement. He advocates a reduction in the overwhelming power of the federal government, including a reduction in the power of the Executive Branch itself. With greater autonomy and fewer government regulations, individuals and businesses can prosper and the economy will grow.
This year is a particularly appropriate year for the Libertarian economic message. Combining the Great Recession with the statist policies of the past eight years has caused on-going, harsh economic pain for millions of people. Politicians and regulators set the policies that led to the collapse; their crony corporate clients benefited from the policies and then were rescued when the scheme collapsed. After eight more years of government aid to the economy, oddly enough, the same politicians, regulators, and crony capitalists have prospered, and the middle class stares at extinction. It is high time to make the point that whenever some group comes to fix the economy, you can be assured the fix is in and you are out. The only way to spread prosperity is to withdraw the government’s heavy hand and restore Adam Smith’s invisible hand.
No one is better suited for this opportunity than the Libertarians, who have made the free market argument for years. They have always resisted the Democrats’ hypocrisy of larding the laws with payback for their corporate donors while claiming to be the people’s champion. Likewise, they have always rejected the Republicans’ penchant for announcing a preference for free markets while enacting preferences for specific participants in the market.
The likelihood that Gary Johnson wins the Presidency is small, but there is a chance. As long as there is a chance to spare the nation the alternatives, I will take it. Almost sixty percent of all voters find both Hillary and Trump untrustworthy. People are unhappy with those choices, and they should be. Gary Johnson gives us a worthy and honorable alternative, one that will reduce the role of government in our lives and restore prosperity. He is clearly the best choice for President in 2016.