by Christopher M. Halleron
If one doesn’t win then we dodge a bullet—only to bleed out over time from a stab wound to the femoral artery. Those are our top prospects this November.
If you’re being marched to the firing squad by someone with a knife at your back, and two guys pop out from around the corner and say, “Pssssst—look over here,” the least you could do is give them your attention.
Because let’s face it—these options are brutal.
Hillary Clinton has a ruthless, Gollum-like obsession with the “ring of power” that is the Oval Office. It’s her precious, and in her eyes it belongs to her and her alone. A true leader for the “participation award generation,” many feel it’s “just her time,” and that “she deserves it”—except this isn’t JV softball, it’s the Presidency of the United States of America and should be won on merit. Her experience to date—as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State—has been questionable at best. Yet despite her glaring flaws, Clinton’s transparent, self-serving approach to her party’s nomination scared most others out of the water from the get-go. That’s not democracy, that’s a coronation.
On the other side, Donald Trump is essentially a Golgothan. He is an excremental demon (to borrow from Writer/Director/Garden Stater Kevin Smith—a man who has had a far more positive impact on New Jersey than Trump), born from two-plus decades of rudderless Republican leadership. The GOP is now forced to reap what they have sown—only they never actually planted a seed, just heaped on more and more fertilizer. Trump is everything that’s wrong with America—ignorant, jingoistic neo-fascism cloaked in the Stars & Stripes. He’s not even flash over substance, he’s just incessant, vapid cacophony. Next to actual ICBM’s, Donald Trump is quite possibly the worst thing this country could turn loose on the globe.
In the past, we’d face contest like that and be tempted to write in something glib like “Jay & Silent Bob 2016.” The two-party system has maintained a stranglehold on the voting public, fostering a prevailing sense of civic ennui—which, by the way, is what all sitting politicians want.
Looking at Third Party ventures in recent history, the biggest obstacle has been an innate skepticism—ironic, considering our disdain for those in power. H. Ross Perot came out swinging back in ’92, but failed to land any heavy blows. Ralph Nader took his crack in ’00, only to be labeled a “spoiler” for his efforts, while it was Al Gore who failed to galvanize the support he needed to decisively defeat a wobbly George W. Bush.
This time around, however, both “frontrunners” are more than wobbly—they’re downright off-putting. As the American public laments the dearth of viable political leadership, many of them overlook an option that’s right there in front of them.
Now, to be fair, the Libertarian Party has some branding issues. Those on the Right think it’s the “Liberal” Party—partly out of sheer ignorance of etymology, and partly out of the notion that certain individual freedoms are an affront to God. Those people have swallowed every toxic morsel that has been handed to them by their own antagonistic leadership. Meanwhile the Left paint Libertarians as nihilist anarchists who would gleefully watch your house burn because it’s not their problem. Those people can’t understand the notion that humanity transcends political ideology—they’d prefer to expand governmental reach to ensure their own well-being, trampling on the freedom of others only to create this false sense of security.
The Libertarian Party is essentially what the Tea Party could have become, before it was immediately hijacked by fringe evangelical neo-con zealots in tri-cornered hats. They are the true party of “Don’t Tread on Me,” in the sense that if you don’t tread on me, I won’t tread on you—a fundamental tenet that our Founding Fathers held dear.
As their representatives in the forthcoming election, they’ve selected Gary Johnson and William Weld—two career Republicans who have seen the direction their party is going and actively choose to seek another route. That alone is worthy of attention.
They may not be the most charismatic, flamboyant, bombastic firebrands to ever take the stage—and that’s kind of their angle. In a contest that is shaping up to be the political equivalent of trench warfare, with opponents digging in and raining down mortar after mortar while those on the front lines of society literally fight their battles, Johnson/Weld represent a different tactical mindset.
To be clear, this is not an endorsement of Johnson/Weld or the Libertarian Party. There’s a lot of race to be run between now and November, and things could change drastically—here’s hoping they do. In the meantime, don’t be a rubberstamp for a two-party machine that runs on your apathy. At least have the civic self-respect to take a serious look at the leading alternative.
Maybe the Libertarian Party doesn’t hit on all cylinders for you? Maybe you have personal objections to Johnson and/or Weld? That’s fine—weigh those objections against your other options and see which one you’d rather face. Mathematically, the lesser of three evils should be at least marginally better than the lesser of two…
You’ll hear things like, “unelectable,” or “wasted vote”—and you’ll hear them from people who want to steer your vote toward their own parties’ agenda. We’ve reached a tipping point in American politics where the outsiders are no longer the agenda-driven activists but rather civic-minded centrists who are interested in facilitating progress instead of perpetuating contentious gridlock.
Keep that in mind as November grows closer. Your vote is not insignificant—it can be meaningful. Continually endorsing the process that has brought this country to such a ghastly crossroads, via action or apathy, only spins our wheels deeper into the rut. Have the courage to at least stand up and look for another way out.
Christopher M. Halleron is the Publisher/Editor of hMAG.
As a columnist and journalist, he has covered various aspects of life here in the ‘greater Hoboken area’ for the past two decades.
His opinions are his own.