Jim Clark: Leaning Libertarian? Let’s hypothesize… (opinion)
Last week’s column was headlined, “Could Libertarian ticket shock Trump, Hillary?” I posed a scenario in which the Libertarian Party took the White House in November.
Farfetched? Maybe, but consider. Hillary and Trump have the highest negatives of any presidential candidates since polling began. Almost every news cycle, new incriminating emails of Hillary’s are leaked to the press.
Julian Assange of Wikileaks told PBS News Hour: “Hillary is a war hawk who shouldn’t be trusted in a gun store much less with an army.”
Wikileaks has already released damaging emails and promises more. Then there is the issue of her refusal to release her medical records.
Meanwhile, Trump sticks his foot in his mouth even when he’s reading a teleprompter. The effect is to call into question the qualifications of either to be commander in chief.
So, in last week’s scenario, I mused about what would happen if both major party candidates tied in the Electoral College or if neither got a majority of electoral votes.
The result, according to Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution, is that the House of Representatives chooses the winner from among the top five vote getters. But each state congressional delegation gets only one vote so Nevada would have the same clout as California or New York.
Also, the House is not bound by the popular vote. Of the top five candidates the one receiving the vote of the greatest number of House delegations becomes President of the United States.
This has actually happened twice in the past. There are a lot of unknowns in this scenario but in event the election goes to the House it will be stacked in favor of the GOP. Currently, 33 state congressional delegations are majority Republican, 14 Democrat and 3 tied.
Let’s look at the Libertarian ticket. Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson is a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, a blue state. Vice Presidential Candidate William Weld is a former two-term Republican governor of Massachusetts, a very blue state.
Inference? That both candidates were able to work with Democratic legislatures to get their state’s business done and were respected enough by blue state voters to both get reelected.
Hmmm. Just like Ronald Reagan.
What is a Libertarian? The party platform could have been written by Thomas Jefferson. It emphasizes individual liberty in personal and economic affairs; a balanced budget; avoidance of “foreign entanglements” including military and economic intervention in other nations’ affairs; free trade; legal immigration; Constitutional limitations on government powers; liberalization of drug laws, separation of church and state; minimal regulation; civil liberties; and a restoration of states’ rights pursuant to the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, most of which should appeal to Republicans.
The Libertarian civil liberties plank approves of gay rights and a woman’s right to choose in matters of abortion which should appeal to Democrats.
Libertarian-leaning 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Ron Paul enjoyed tremendous support in Nevada, particularly among the youth.
His son, Libertarian-leaning 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Rand Paul did not fare as well in this year’s Nevada caucus but both of their campaign platforms fell within the GOP’s “big tent.”
To conclude this hypothetical, we would have to know how many Republican House members are “never Trumpers,” how many are closet Libertarians and how many from Mormon and evangelical districts would be turned off by a duo ascribing to a “live and let live” attitude toward gays, abortion and drug laws.
We would also have to know how many Democrats would be attracted to the Libertarian candidates and their message. They get a vote too.
Finally, if Gary Johnson can get his average polling numbers above 15% by fall, he will be invited to join in the nationally televised presidential debates. That may give his ticket a boost that makes Libertarians competitive in the Electoral College. This election could be very interesting.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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