This is, indeed, an unusual year, even without considering Covid-19. It may go down as the year third parties broke the two-party stranglehold on American presidential politics. It should have been 2016, when the major parties nominated their least popular candidates in history. But the third-party candidates were not taken seriously that year.
Jill Stein was seen as “running again” after losing as Green Party presidential candidate in 2012, and losing in runs for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2012. Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party picked former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Neither was taken seriously. They received 1.07% and 3.28% of the vote, respectively.
This year, things may be different. The Libertarian and Green Parties appear to be heading toward having well-known and respected candidates. For the Libertarians, almost exactly two months ago, we theorized that Michigan Representative Justin Amash might run for president. Amash is best known as being the first of two Republicans, along with Carlos Curbelo of Florida, to call for the impeachment of Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, Amash made his run semi-official, according to Forbes.
“Today, I launched an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian nomination for president of the United States,” Amash tweeted. “Americans are ready for practical approaches based in humility and trust of the people.”
He continued, “We’re ready for a presidency that will restore respect for our Constitution and bring people together. I’m excited and honored to be taking these first steps toward serving Americans of every background as president.”
The odd thing is that Amash is beginning (or rather, beginning his beginning) to run after all the Libertarian primaries and caucuses are over.
Amash is throwing his hat into the ring after the Libertarian Party primaries have already come and gone, but it’s not too late for him. Unlike the two major parties, the Libertarian Party’s primaries and caucuses, most of which were won by lawyer Jacob Hornberger, are nonbinding. Instead, the nominee is chosen by delegates at the convention, which is scheduled for May 21, 2020. Though the party’s delegates have in the past been suspicious of establishment politicians, Amash offers an attractive opportunity for the party to reach the much-coveted 5% threshold to get public funding.
As we noted in our article (link above), Amash thinks it’s time to “pass the torch to a new generation,” as JFK said in 1960. With both major candidates having been born in the first half of the previous century, that’s a powerful message. Amash is almost half the age of the senior-citizen candidates–only 40 years old, while Trump is almost 74 and Biden is 77.
Amash is also promising to halt the continuing usurpation of power from Congress to the Presidency. USA Today noted the same:
He has become a frequent foil of Trump’s, most recently chiding him for comments in which the president suggested his power over the states was “absolute” in reacting to the spread of the coronavirus. Amash, a constitutional lawyer, has long been a renegade even as a Republican, bolting from his party when he did not feel it was sufficiently committed to principles of the free market and constitutional limitations and balances.
It’s always impossible to tell if Trump is saying what he thinks, or what he thinks will manipulate the listener. In this case, Trump says he wants Amash to run, saying Amash “almost always votes for the Do Nothing Dems anyway.”
No, I think Amash would make a wonderful candidate, especially since he is way behind in his district and has no chance of maintaining his Congressional seat. He almost always votes for the Do Nothing Dems anyway. I like him even more than Jill Stein! https://t.co/V8kutnfvIj— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 29, 2020
Of course, Amash is not welcomed with open arms by all Libertarians.
Mark Whitney, founder of TheLaw.net and a comedian, griped that “if this asshole Justin Amash comes over, if he’s the nominee I will not support him.” Whitney insists that the “Party of Principles should stop nominating criminals from [a] criminal organization” like the GOP who “come over last minute” to take advantage of the L.P.’s money and activists and then leave it in the lurch—”stop nominating these [former Republican] pricks!”
That’s only half our story. While Amash is likely to do the best of any Libertarian candidate, perhaps ever, the Green Party may also have found a savior, according to The Hill.
Jesse Ventura, who served as Minnesota governor as a member of the Reform Party, said Monday that he is “testing the waters” for a potential 2020 run for president on the Green Party ticket.
In a pair of tweets, the former wrestling star, who has repeatedly floated a White House bid, said he endorses the Green Party’s platform and had authorized a letter to the party signaling his interest in running for its presidential nomination. . .
Ventura said in an interview with TMZ in 2018. . .”If I do do it, Trump will not have a chance. . .For one, Trump knows wrestling. He participated in two Wrestlemanias. He knows he can never out-talk a wrestler, and he knows I’m the greatest talker wrestling’s ever had,” he said.
In our pages, we had a discussion of Michelle Obama as vice presidential candidate, and a commenter said that won’t happen, because she has said she doesn’t want it. However, that’s always what candidates say before they jump in, including Ventura, according to the New York Post.
Former WWE star Jesse Ventura has admitted he is considering jumping in the ring with a wildcard presidential run — only days after bashing rumors about it. . .
“I’m an independent. I’m not a Democrat or a Republican because I know they’re not the solution.”
While Ventura is a former WWE wrestler, so was Donald Trump. The difference is that Ventura was also elected governor of Minnesota before running for president.
Ventura served one term as governor. He was elected under the Reform Party banner, but his political home became the Independence Party by the time he left office in 2003. . .
“We have to elect an independent president,” Ventura said. “If we elect a Democrat or a Republican, the polarization continues.”
Ventura said he’d rather see President Trump defeated than impeached but was critical of how Trump had gone about his job.
“I don’t want religious people telling me about government. I don’t want government people telling me about religion,” he said. “And I don’t want a draft dodger telling me what’s patriotic.”
And his entry is not a complete surprise, according to Inforum.
In November, Ventura left the door open to a 2020 presidential run in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, but said he wouldn’t file until the last minute this summer to “explode onto the scene.”
A commentary in Bloomberg gives advice to the two third-party candidates:
Green Party candidates. . .help Republicans win. . .the best strategy would be to campaign only in states with lopsided party majorities, where voters concerned about (say) the climate could vote Green without having to worry about throwing the election to an incumbent who has governed by supporting as much global warming as possible.
As for Amash? He’s a principled small-government libertarian who thinks Trump is unfit for office. If his main goal is to defeat the president, he should run a campaign focused not on Trump’s deficiencies but on policy questions that sharply divide the parties. Anti-Trump ads are unlikely to shake Republican voters.
A debate stage with both Trump and Ventura would certainly be a knock-down-drag-out event. They may even hit each other with folding chairs.