Can third party candidates force an informal coalition-style government that completely changes our political landscape ahead of the 2020 election?
I get it. All we hear about is Clinton and Trump from our major media outlets. It’s way too easy to forget that there are FOUR candidates for president right now – excluding Bernie, who hasn’t dropped out yet, but has all but officially conceded the nomination.
From the Libertarian Party we have Gary Johnson. He is a two-term Governor of New Mexico, and is a qualified candidate. He could do the job. Not all of our candidates have a presidential resume, so I think it’s important to point that out. His running mate is another former 2 term governor, Bill Weld, who governed Massachusetts from ’90 to ’98.
The Green Party, on the other side of the spectrum, is again putting up Jill Stein. Stein is a physician, activist, and politician, who held office at the local level in Lexington, MA as a Town Meeting Representative. Stein has run unsuccessful bids for the MA house, twice for governor, and in 2012 was the Green Party candidate for POTUS. She’s also not the least qualified candidate for president.
Just because neither Johnson nor Stein will be president, doesn’t mean they can’t score huge victories for their parties.
If Johnson can get his numbers up to even 15% by appealing to Republicans-who-are-disenfranchised-by-Trump-and-will-never-vote-for-Clinton, as well as Bernie-supporters-who-are-disenfranchised-by-Clinton-and-will-never-vote-for-Trump, he then forms a very large and potentially powerful voting bloc in a severely fragmented conservative spectrum. The Republican Party is in shambles right now, even before losing the election to Clinton. That loss will further disenfranchise the party’s base and the Libertarians will be waiting with open, comparatively-reasonable, gun-loving, government-hating, arms.
On the left, Stein and the Greens can come out on the positive in two ways: If she can come away with 5% or more of the national vote, that would qualify the Green Party for presidential convention and general election grants in 2020. Additionally, if they can raise $5000 or more in 20 or more states, they then qualify for campaign matching funds. That would be huge for them going into what will likely be a contentious 2020 race on the left. I’m assuming that Clinton will draw an opponent from within her party, as well as from the Greens. If she doesn’t from within, Stein, or whomever the Greens select, could make it to primetime if they can clear these hurdles this year – and have the money to run a viable campaign in the expensive media landscape that is national politics. I don’t know what their plan is, but if I was running point for the Greens I’d have a 20 state fundraising strategy, and a focus on that 5% number.
This would force the major parties to listen to these populist movements and adopt parts of their platforms – we’re seeing this sort of happen between Sanders and Clinton right now on the DNC platform. The beauty of coalitions is that more people’s voices are heard. I’m a big fan of parliamentary systems like Britain or Germany, with their coalition governments and equal representation. We don’t have that kind of system, ours is stacked against coalitions and will eventually settle back into two major parties, but over the next few years we might very well get a taste of what that coalition system kinda-sorta looks like, and I for one welcome it.