The short answer is, we can’t. Barring a federal indictment, or someone being crushed to death in the tragic collapse of an enormous ego, or other unforeseen and unlikely circumstance, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are this year’s disastrous nominees. Get used to the idea. We can’t fix it . . . but we might, just might be able to mitigate the damage regardless of the outcome.
Why we can’t fix things this year: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were right about one thing — the system is rigged, just not in the way they think it is. It’s already too late to put a credible third-party candidate on the ballot in some states and impossible in many others; and, no, I don’t consider the Libertarian Party’s ticket a credible alternative (but that ticket just might be useful in mitigation, which we’ll get to shortly).
Why is it too late?
The Big Two get their nominees on the November ballot pretty much automatically. The Big Two have seen to that. But that’s not all they’ve managed to rig in their favor. They’ve also made it pretty much impossible for an alternative to get on the ballot to spoil their monopoly. An “independent” candidate (meaning not affiliated with either the Republican, Democrat, or other “state-recognized” parties) has to jump through innumerable obstacles to get on state ballots. In order to accomplish that an independent would need to gather an estimated 900,000+ petition signatures in order to make the ballots in all fifty states. Suppose our independent managed to meet that insurmountable hurdle? Well, then the next hurdle is arbitrary “deadlines” set at the state level. For instance, the deadline to submit for inclusion on the November ballot has already passed in several states, including here in Texas. I find that interesting, considering that technically neither party has yet fielded an official candidate, and won’t until their respective conventions, yet the names Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be on the ballot of all fifty states despite these “deadlines” having passed. Finally, the last hurdle is that several states want you to pay for the privilege of putting your name on their November ballot. It may be easy for a state party to fork over a couple hundred to a thousand bucks to just one state for ballot access for the eventual nominee, but it’s unrealistic for anyone but the extremely wealthy to pay tribute to all the states that charge such a fee. Outraged yet? Read on.
What about write-in candidates? Again, the system is rigged in favor of the Big Two. Forty-three states allow for write-ins. Of those, thirty-five of them require advance submission of the write-in, otherwise those votes will not even be tallied regardless of how many votes are cast for that individual. That’s leads to the ludicrous possibility that a write-in candidate could conceivably garner 51% of the votes in one of those states, yet one of the other two “Big Two” party candidates would “win” all the electoral votes for that state. Seven states flat-out deny you the basic right to write in the name of someone other than those who appear on those states’ ballots, which usually means you’re limited to two, perhaps three choices as arbitrarily decided by the state (i.e., “The Big Two”). The states on that wall of shame are Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Only eight states in the entire country honor their law-abiding, taxpaying citizens enough to allow them true freedom of choice in a presidential election —Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming.
Well, if we can’t fix it, how the hell are we going to mitigate it? With the only tool left to us, and that is to effectively delegitimize the ultimate “winner” in such a way that the he or she becomes a powerless figurehead “leader” until the next election cycle. In other words, you vote. You vote for third party candidates, write in someone even if your ballot will not be tallied, you do anything in your very limited power to ensure that the “winner”, be it Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, has far less than anything even remotely smacking of 50% of the vote. Ideally one would want to see neither of the two front runners get even one third of the popular vote, meaning that a solid two-thirds of the country voted against either individual, but that’s not going to happen. We all know that going into this, because as I’ve already noted the system is rigged by the Big Two.
No president with a significant and solid majority of the electorate having voted against them can claim any sort of mandate to do anything, whether it be negotiating treaties, attempt to bully sovereign nations into paying for walls we all know are never going to be built, submitting for consideration proposals to the now-cowering legislative branch of government, or attempting to seed ideologues into the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court. Moderation wins by default. Extremism loses and begins an inevitable downward spiral into oblivion.
Tomorrow I wrap up with this minor treatise with a call to arms. It’s time the true patriots take back this country away from the special interests and the Big Two that have become indistinguishable from those special interests.
Wednesday: Election 2016 — Fixing This System Long Term