Gary Johnson as President: How Election 2012 Could Pave the Way for Third Parties
The American political system is at a crossroads. Voters have grown impatient with both major parties. The past four years in Washington were collectively one of the most unproductive times ever for our government. Democrats and Republicans are equally culpable for the current state of affairs.
Although, Mitt Romney may win the 2012 presidential election, this outcome would be less a victory for Romney than a loss for President Obama. From his first day in office, Obama and his Democratic colleagues tore the nation apart politically, as they foisted their socialistic ideology upon us. It was unnecessary to be so aggressive as Democrats had a strong mandate that included complete control of the government.
With a filibuster-proof majority in the senate, Obama could have passed virtually any legislation; he chose health care reform and rammed it through Congress with little if any input from Republicans. It was an attempt by the president to build his legacy and emulate Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The decision to dramatically alter one of the largest parts of the government at the time could very well have been the beginning of the end for Obama and his party.
As we now know, the focus of the new administration should have been on the creation of new jobs to offset an eroding economic environment. All the president’s political capital should have been expended to improve the economy. Instead, Congress enacted health care legislation, which will ultimately cost $2.6 trillion over the ensuing ten years. The most bothersome aspects of this decision, besides its sheer magnitude, was that it benefited only 10% of America. The other 290 million people in the country were promised reduced medical care costs that many experts questioned. In fact, medical costs and insurance premiums have increased dramatically since Obamacare was enacted.
Exacerbating the situation is the mandatory buy-in to the program. To make health care reform work financially, Congress is forcing everyone to participate, including younger and healthier people who would rather not and save the money. This led to a constitutional confrontation that ultimately may require massive changes to the original legislation.
From a political perspective, one seemingly unimportant event led to a huge redistribution of power in Congress. Sadly, former Massachusetts Senator Teddy Kennedy passed away on August 29, 2009, not even one year after the Obama presidential victory. In January 2010, Republican Scott Brown upset Democrat Martha Coakley in a special election to fill Kennedy’s seat. One of the principal reasons why Brown was successful was dissatisfaction relating to health care reform. The impact of this election was that it turned Congress upside down; Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Virtually all legislation proposed by Obama could now be deferred indefinitely.
Later in the year, during the 2010 elections, Republicans built on the Brown victory and skepticism about health care reform. Republicans took control of the House, making it impossible for the government to operate effectively unless Republicans were co-opted into every proposal. At this point, Obama’s presidency began to crumble.
Stagnation, obstruction, and inaction in our government occurred during an important time in history and truly impacted voters. It shows in current polling of the presidential race. Romney has been making gains based upon Obama’s record in dealing with the economy. The election is still up for grabs, but Romney may win simply because he is the alternative to an impotent Obama.
Traditionally, political parties have been “clubby,” unions of like-minded voters. They were a bloc of sorts, which wielded power based upon their solidarity. In recent years, the situation has changed, and now, the parties are much more ideological. For instance, Republicans consist of moderates, Tea Party members, libertarians and conservatives. All of these groups have different philosophies about the size and impact of the federal government among a myriad of other issues. Democrats have a common bond, a socialistic bent. However, the class is made up of many different one-issue groups with their own agendas.
The importance of this on the future of our political system cannot be overstated if Romney wins and is unable to end Washington partisanship. It is possible that one or more ideological groups will inspire powerful third and fourth political parties. The opportunities for pioneers like Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, as well as organizations such as Americans Eelect will increase exponentially.
Mitt Romney represents the last chance to retain the current political landscape. In fact, even if he is successful as president, I believe credible third party challenges are just around the corner. The overwhelming support of millennials could well seal the deal for a successful third party candidate during the next decade.