Vote Johnson-Weld

johnson-weld8201Endorsing Gary Johnson and William Weld is no departure for this column, which has endorsed both candidates before. Johnson for president in 2012 and Weld for governor of New York in 2006.

Four years ago Common Sense mentioned Johnson exactly twice: when he was chosen as the Libertarian candidate and endorsing him for president. His name has arisen far more frequently this time around. He has excellent experience and strong instincts on both social issues and on the economy. This time around he has received far more media coverage and a great deal more information has arisen. This column has always had doubts about his instincts on national security policy, and was distressed to learn that they are grounded in both ignorance and apparent lack of curiosity about the outside world.

Yet this column endorsed Johnson when he was running against Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Neither was a perfect candidate, but both were vastly superior to the candidates that their parties have offered this year. Obama is vain, and his policy approach is well to the left of this columnist. But he is also intelligent, decent and sincere. Hillary Clinton is venal, ruthless, devious and seems to lie more frequently than anyone else in politics. Mitt Romney was flexible of principle, but also intelligent, honest, and highly qualified. Donald Trump is bigoted, narcissistic, and seems unable to distinguish his wildest fantasies from reality. At least Clinton lies consciously and carefully. Trump just makes stuff up

If New York were a swing state then voters and your columnist would face a tricky balance. Voting for Hillary Clinton would be extremely painful. She is, deservedly, the second most hated candidate for president ever recorded. If elected she will be most dishonest president since Richard Nixon, at least. But she is still a better candidate than Donald Trump. In Florida or Ohio voters have an obligation to hold their noses and vote her, or, at the very least, against him.

But Barack Obama carried New York by more than two million votes. Despite Trump’s connections with the state, there are at least 40 states where he is stronger than in New York. If New York is close, then the darkness has fallen and Trump has won in a landslide. It is far more likely that Clinton will win the state with a handsome majority. In either case, voting strategically makes no sense. Your vote will not be determinative. You do not get to decide whether or not Trump becomes president.

You do get to decide whether or not the Libertarian Party can pass the five percent threshold and be accepted as an official minor party. That opens ballot access and means the party is more likely to be included in opinion polling next time round. Perhaps under an even stronger candidate – Weld would be a good choice – the Libertarians can at least be part of the debate in 2020.

Whether Clinton or Trump is elected, the president will need to be challenged. Policies will need to be debated. Questions will need to be answered. Let’s put the Libertarians in a position to open up that debate.


Quentin Langley lives in New York and London and teaches at the University of Bedfordshire Business School. He is the author of Brandjack: How your reputation is at risk from brand pirates and what to do about it

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