A Ghost of a Chance?

2016-09-7--23-41-12By QMC USN (Ret)

As I write this, things seem to be pretty much settled, and we’re getting ready for the biggest “Hold your nose and vote for (fill in the blank)” election in anyone’s memory. Fewer people are concerned about who they are going to vote for than are certain about who they are going to vote against.

Through exhaustive research, I have determined that 76.2% of Americans fall into the “Anybody but Trump” or “Anybody but Clinton” camps. And 32.8% are in both. OK, you caught me, I just pulled those numbers out of my ass. But they’re probably pretty close, and some folks, including most liberals, will likely believe them. After all, they believe that 97% of scientists share the view that global warming/climate change/funky weather is mainly due to burning fossil fuels, a number that was determined using similar methodology.

So, we’re all getting ready to suck it up and vote for the lesser of two evils. But is there another option? There may be, as a result of a recent announcement by Dr. Jill Stein.

Who?

Dr. Stein is the presumptive presidential nominee of the Green Party. She recently said that she would like to step aside (and presumably run for VP) if Senator Bernie Sanders (Democrat?/Independent?/Socialist? – VT) would accept the top spot. If Bernie takes her up on her offer, things could get very interesting. In fact, I think that they might have a ghost of a chance of winning. Which is a lot better than Jill’s Powerball jackpot odds in the election.

Now personally, I have no use for Senator Sanders, since I disagree with him on just about everything. But at least he is probably the most honest candidate in this election cycle. He’s pretty consistent in his statements, and actually seems to believe the nonsense that he spouts. Oh, and allow me to correct myself, since I remember that I do have a use for the senator. He’s the one that I’m pointing to when it’s time to say “What? You think I’m crazy? Look at that guy.”

Everyone is waiting for, and expecting, Bernie to get with the program and give his endorsement to Hillary. As of the moment that I’m typing this, he has yet to do so. But he has indicated that he’s solidly in the “Anybody but Trump” club. And conventional wisdom would indicate that if he ran on the Green ticket, all that he would accomplish would be to split the liberal vote, and thereby ensure a Trump victory. But I’m not sure that convention is quite so wise this year. If it was, we would have forgotten “The Donald” months ago. And the death of conventional wisdom is usually the birth of unconventional opportunity.

Simple Fact of Life #1: People can almost always be counted on to act in their personal self-interest.

Senator Sanders may be the exception to this, but probably not. His whole career has been built on promoting himself by tearing down those that have actually produced something of value.

Simple Fact of Life #2: Success comes to those who don’t ignore opportunity, but seize it when it presents itself.

So, what are the interests and opportunities involved with a Sanders/Stein Green Party ticket?

First off, I don’t think that I’m going too far out on a limb to suggest that they will at least win Vermont. Yes, that’s only three electoral votes, but it’s three more than the Green Party will win with Jill in the top spot. And there’s a good chance that they’ll pick up some other states. In 1968 George Wallace actually got 45 electoral votes, so a serious third-party candidate can have an impact. The self-interest of Dr. Stein and the Green Party elders would be served by, if nothing else, by bringing the party from the wilderness of Ralph Nader Land, where Jill has no chance of ever becoming president, to within reach of the big time. And don’t forget coat-tails. The excitement that Bernie’s star power would bring to the election might even translate into a few congressional seats. Opportunity seized. Self-interest served.

But would a Trump presidency (conventional wisdom scenario) serve the interests of the Green Party? Not likely. But there are other interests to be served, and other opportunities to be seized. If Bernie Sanders recognizes this, doesn’t give up the ghost, and allows things to play out in the way that I think that they would, it might just be the best way to ensure that there is never a President Trump.

The way that I see it, a Sanders/Stein ticket would almost certainly set something else in motion. The GOP establishment, which has tried, and continues to try, to do anything that they can in order to get somebody besides Trump on the ballot, will see an opportunity that can be seized. They will throw all of the money that they have, and they have a lot, towards another party, probably the Constitution Party, which will be on the ballot in most states, in an attempt to co-opt it and get one of their own (let’s call him Mitt Romney for the purposes of this article, although it could be someone else) on the ballot. Would the Constitution Party be willing to forgo their core principles and allow a RINO to carry their standard? Refer to Simple Facts of Life #1 and #2. Everything that I said about the advantages for the Green Party would apply to them. Possible coat-tails, and a chance to escape the political wilderness, and be taken seriously at all the right D.C. cocktail parties. They’ll go for it, no doubt in my mind. Toss in a strong VP candidate, say John Kasich, and this ticket will win some states.

So now it gets really interesting. Because now it’s time to talk about the Gary Johnson/William Weld ticket of the Libertarian Party. These are two former Republican governors of generally blue states, New Mexico and Massachusetts. A relatively strong ticket, by third-party standards. Now, in the past, most people who voted for a third-party candidate did so as a protest, secure in the knowledge that the eventual outcome in their state was predetermined, and that their vote would not make a difference. And yes, it’s time to ‘fess up, I was one of those who wasted his vote on Johnson in 2012. But in a five-way race, all bets are off. The Libertarian ticket could win some states. And don’t forget about the coat-tails.

The five-way scenario that I’ve described will probably mean wins in more states than Vermont for the Green Party ticket of Sanders/Stein. Because in this situation, people will have the opportunity to vote for someone, as opposed to simply voting against the greater of two evils.

So what would be the likely outcome of this election? I think that all five candidates would win at least some states. And that would make it highly unlikely that any of them would receive a majority of the electoral votes. So the next president would be chosen by the House of Representatives. How would that go? I have no idea, but consider this:

When you take into account the massive number of people who view both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump unfavorably, it is, while not likely, quite possible that they could end up 4th and 5th in the electoral vote count. The 12th amendment to the Constitution specifies that the House must choose the next president from among the top three finishers. That might be Sanders, Romney, and Johnson. In that situation, who would they pick? No idea. But one thing is for sure, the corrupt, self-serving political establishment would be a ghost of its former self. And that would be a good thing.

So, Bernie, it’s up to you. Will it be business as usual, with the corruptocrats in Washington continuing to look out only for themselves, or will the people, you know, the ones that you claim to care about, have a chance to have a real voice?

Bernie, don’t give up the ghost. 63.8% of the American people are counting on you (you know where that number came from).