Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Friday, October 7, 2016

Johnstein 2016

The only current variable in the presidential election - aside from Clinton's margin of victory - is the potential role of third party candidates to act as spoilers.  Given both Trump and Clinton's unpopularity, this would be the year for one of these third party tickets to shine.  In fact, the worry is that they reproduce the Nader problem from 2000, when Nader cost Gore Florida and probably New Hampshire, and thus the presidency.

There are a few problems.

First, we need to acknowledge just how abysmal these two yahoos are as candidates.  Ross Perot had a message.  It was simplistic and largely false, but it had cohesion - even if he personally was all over the map.  Johnson is not only for marijuana legalization, he's probably stoned right now.  His complete lack of knowledge or understanding would be humorous if he weren't running for president.  Gary Johnson is that guy Jimmy Kimmel interviews about current events to prove how stupid Americans are.

Jill Stein is worse.  An anti-vaxxer, 9/11-truther-curious yahoo with the political insights of a fool.

And right now all these maroons, including a few you haven't even heard of, are polling at non-negligible levels.

As Matthew Yglesias notes historically these protest candidates underperform their poll numbers.  Many of their poll supporters stay home, because their choice of Jill Stein is primarily about protesting the duopoly of the political system.  In the end, it's easier just to stay home and watch Portlandia on Netflix.  Protest achieved.

There is also the fact that whatever petulance one might feel about being forced to choose between a Cheetoh colored, ferret wearing shit gibbon and a career politician ultimately dissolves before the actual choice.  You express your displeasure to Pew, but come November 8th, you bubble in the name of someone who can actually win.

A huge defection of Clinton leaners to third party candidates is the only plausible way that Trump can become president.  Luckily for Clinton, Trump is doing a great job of reminding them why they shouldn't play Russian Roulette with American democracy.

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