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The shiny object strategy

June 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton won’t answer questions about what the FBI investigation into her server says about her competency, but she can always find a few strident words on income inequality, racism  and sexism, her favorite shiny objects.

Donald Trump would rather talk about the ethnic background of the judge hearing one (of three) lawsuits concerning Trump University than offer proof it wasn’t a scam.

Although he has so far offered nothing of substance on policy and governance on the campaign trail, he’s never short of targets to attack, apparently for the unforgiveable sin of disrespecting him.

Welcome to the world of shiny objects.

Both front-running presidential candidates seem to think that the shiny object campaign is working.

Maybe it is, from an entertainment and free media coverage perspective, but serious voters are past that phase.

We all know that the two campaigns hate each other. That’s OK, because a majority of the voters hate the candidates too.

Mr. Trump apparently doesn’t realize that the people he needs to convince don’t give a hoot about his hurt feelings.

Hillary is…well, she’s Hillary.  Nothing about her message or her style has changed in 35 years. She’s still stuck in the world of grievance politics, unwilling or unable to let either her campaign or her constituents move forward from 1980.

This election has shaped up to offer the two worst possible candidates at a time when voters are looking for substance over shine.

Hillary Clinton is better at the ice cream truck approach, where all the noise culminates in the promise of a tasty treat.

Donald Trump excels in appealing to that group that actually believes there is something real about reality TV.

Most of the drama now in this election seems to center around which candidate is going to jail first.

At least the Democrats have Bernie Sanders for contrast.

Republicans have zilch for alternatives, and absolutely no idea of how to fix that. The most vocal wing of the party has a one-word campaign slogan…No.

The ultimate shiny object would be a viable third party choice, emphasis on viable. Since it isn’t going to be David French, what’s left?

For that, we have the late-to-the-dance (from a PR standpoint…the party is ballot-qualified in all 50 states) Libertarian Party,  which seems poised to finally exceed its historical high of less than 1% total of the popular vote.

Strangely, as the country’s self-proclaimed third-largest political party, this time around they almost seem like the adults in this contest, which says more about the state of the big show than it does about Libertarians.

With just a little over 325,000 recorded registered voters,  the self-described third largest party comprises just slightly more than 2/10s of 1% of the voting public on average. The party hasn’t captured an Electoral College vote since 1972.

Their candidate, former two-time Republican New Mexico governor and construction business owner Gary Johnson, has previously announced his determination to dramatically slash all Federal programs,( including an immediate 43% cut to defense, Medicare and, Medicaid).

Governor Johnson is the only Libertarian presidential candidate to ever receive more than one million votes (1,275,821 in 2012). That’s approximately the population of  Dallas, Texas.

Unfortunately, there is a philosophical divide in this party too, and it took the more moderate  Johnson two ballots to win the party’s nomination, finally wresting it from party hardliners.

Even people that want the national debt reduced as quickly as possible acknowledge that Johnson’s “rip-the-band-aid-off-and-get-it-over-with”  approach in these fragile economic times  would never make it through Congress.

Well known for his active veto pen as governor, it’s likely that he would be at war with Congress from  his first day in office, leaving us right where we are now.

On most of the rest of his platform, the former governor and business owner sounds surprisingly like a lot of Main Street America this time around. In fact, he sounds like what Donald Trump wants us to believe he is, only with the street creds to prove it.

One problem with his candidacy is that the Libertarians are firmly identified with ultra-hardline conservative,  Ron Paul.

Even their lofty goal of 10% of the vote does absolutely nothing for the country other than to split the vote even further.

At the very best, Governor Johnson can only hope to influence the Republican party platform, a fact even he acknowledged Sunday on Meet the Press.

So much for viable.

It will be interesting to see what happens at the major party conventions (as mentioned, the Libertarians have already had theirs.)

If Donald Trump can’t get control of his mouth and thumbs in the next month, it’s likely to be contested even though he does have the delegate count.  Bernie will have a lot to say, but he can’t single-handedly derail Mrs. Clinton’s nomination.

From → op-ed

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