Break up the debate monopoly

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to supporters and delegates at the National Libertarian Party Convention, Friday, May 27, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

This isn’t the first time both major-party presidential candidates have drawn widespread disdain from the public. But it’s grimly obvious that a record number of voters are thoroughly dismayed by what they justifiably see as their lack of a positive White House choice in either the Democratic or the Republican nominee.

And if you’re among that vast group, register your displeasure loudly and clearly by voting for neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump on Tuesday. Instead, vote for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson.

Two months ago, Mr. Johnson, in a guest column that ran in many newspapers, including this one, rightly branded Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump as “the most polarizing presidential candidates in more than a generation.” He also correctly wrote: “Elected officials in Washington cannot even agree on a real budget — and haven’t for years. That’s their most straightforward responsibility. These partisans place loyalty to their team over loyalty to the nation’s needs. It’s eerie to see Republicans under Donald Trump denounce free trade and limited government. It’s unsettling to see how comfortable Democrats have gotten with Hillary Clinton’s approach to Middle East regime change as secretary of state.”

Mr. Johnson established a solid record as a fiscally conservative governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, earning re-election by a large margin in a state that has voted for the Democratic nominee in five of the last presidential elections.

William Weld, Mr. Johnson’s running mate, is also a fiscally focused ex-Republican governor. He was re-elected by a large margin in Massachusetts, which hasn’t voted for a GOP presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan in 1984. The Johnson-Weld ticket stresses the urgent need to reform unsustainable federal entitlement spending. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump duck that dire challenge of our times.

No, Mr. Johnson won’t win the White House Tuesday. But if he gains a substantial vote total, that could help spark the liberation of our politics from the two-party monopoly now failing Americans.

Yes, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump emerged victorious in their parties’ extended primary competitions. Yet since winning those nominations, their most effective pitches to voters have focused not on their own visions but on their opponents being “unfit” for the presidency.

Unfortunately, that “unfit” charge rings all too true for both. Thus, many Americans will vote for Mrs. Clinton to prevent Mr. Trump from becoming president or vice versa.

Of course, there is some logic to the argument that no matter how deplorable you find Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, one of them will be our next president, creating a responsibility for voters to pick between those two. And once the election is over, all Americans, regardless of the outcome, must give the victor a fair chance to prove her — or his — critics wrong.

Yes, Mr. Johnson has committed some verbal stumbles over the last two months, exposing shortcomings in his knowledge of foreign affairs.

But Mr. Johnson is not, as Mrs. Clinton is, under investigation by the FBI for improper use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. He has not, as Mrs. Clinton has, repeatedly lied about that case, expanding a credibility gap for a troubling pattern of deceit that began long before her latest scandal.

And Mr. Johnson is not, as Mr. Trump is, a crude braggart who has consistently shown alarming ignorance on both domestic and international issues. He does not, as Mr. Trump does, have a blatantly weak claim to any constitutional or conservative perspective. Nor does he exhibit, as Mr. Trump does, an excessive self-confidence that borders on blinding narcissism.

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It’s not easy to recommend a presidential vote for somebody who can’t win.

But given the dismal choices presented by the Democrats and Republicans this year, it’s a well-warranted course.

So vote to let the major parties know they blew it this year with their choices of White House nominees.

Vote for Gary Johnson for president.


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