Taken together, Trump and Clinton have serious flaws that prevent us from offering our support to either of them. Still, come Nov. 8, tens of millions of Americans with make a draw that they consider beyond distasteful.
We choose not to do that. We would rather recommend a principled candidate for president — regardless of his or her prospects for victory — than suggest that voters cast ballots for such disappointing major-party candidates.
With that demand for a principled president paramount, we turn to the candidate we can recommend. One party has two moderate Republicans — veteran governors who successfully led Democratic states — atop its ticket. Libertarians Gary Johnson of New Mexico and running mate William Weld of Massachusetts are agile, practical and, unlike the major-party candidates, experienced at managing governments. They offer an agenda that appeals not only to the Tribune’s principles but to those of the many Americans who say they are socially tolerant but fiscally responsible. “Most people are Libertarian,” Johnson told the Tribune Editorial Board when he and Weld met with us in July. “It’s just that they don’t know it.”
There is a lot going on in that excerpt. One interesting aspect of it is the way in which the entire endorsement was presented. Most editorial board endorsements boldly proclaim (they’re full of themselves) the candidate of their choice not only in the headline, but in the first paragraph. This one, however, spends a LOT of time explaining why they don’t like the Republican and Democrat choices. It’s subtle, but it gives it a backhanded-compliment feel by the time they get around to talking about Gary Johnson.
I also agree with Johnson that most Americans are probably more libertarian than they are aware. Ironically, most longtime libertarians will tell you that they wish Johnson and Weld were a bit more libertarian. It’s 2016, though, and each party has its own little oddities to deal with.
To the Tribune‘s credit, they address the “wasted vote” issue:
We reject the cliche that a citizen who chooses a principled third-party candidate is squandering his or her vote. Look at the number of fed-up Americans telling pollsters they clamor for alternatives to Trump and Clinton. What we’re recommending will appeal less to people who think tactically than to conscientious Americans so infuriated that they want to send a message about the failings of the major parties and their candidates. Put short:
We offer this endorsement to encourage voters who want to feel comfortable with their choice. Who want to vote for someone they can admire.
Many have pointed out that the negative attitudes towards the two major-party candidates are an indication that the electorate is, for the most part, rejecting the binary choice. That isn’t made less valid because they aren’t coalescing behind one third-party candidate. It’s either a rejection of the process status quo or a one-off emotional reaction. I tend to think it’s the former, but we will have to wait until 2020 to see.