Some 2016 intrigue coming from The Washington Post’s Robert Costa, who reported on a meeting Mitt Romney had with the Weekly Standard’s William Kristol last Thursday on the possibility of running as a third party candidate. Kristol is part of a large swath of conservatives within the Republican Party, who are highly skeptical of presumptive nominee Donald Trump on a whole host of issues—the most obvious being that the billionaire magnate isn’t even a conservative Republican:
William Kristol, the longtime editor of the Weekly Standard magazine and a leading voice on the right, met privately with the 2012 nominee on Thursday afternoon to discuss the possibility of launching an independent bid, potentially with Romney as its standard-bearer.
“He came pretty close to being elected president, so I thought he may consider doing it, especially since he has been very forthright in explaining why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should not be president of the United States,” Kristol said in a phone interview Friday, during which he confirmed that he and Romney had a “little meeting in Washington.”
But knowing Romney’s reluctance, Kristol told Romney that if he remains unwilling to run, many top conservatives would appreciate having the former Massachusetts governor’s support for an independent candidate, should Kristol and other right-leaning figures enlist a willing contender.
“Obviously, if there were to be an independent candidacy, Romney’s support would be very important,” Kristol said. “I wanted to get his wisdom on whether it was more or less doable than I thought.”
Kristol has been working informally for weeks to seek out a prominent political or military figure who could be drafted into the general-election contest, such as retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, who recently declined such overtures.
Nevertheless, this seems to be too little, too late. No one took Trump seriously, which turned out to be a fatal error. Anti-Trump Republicans could have attacked him months prior, but didn’t. A serious opposition research team too look into Trump on the opposing campaigns was barely existent. And when he turned out to be a viable force—it was grossly underfunded. Now, we’re stuck with him. It’s a bit late to play Monday morning quarterback, as we’ve more or less exited the primary stage of 2016 and entered the general.
Again, I’ve never supported Trump’s candidacy, and will not be jumping on the Trump train any time soon, but attacking Hillary Clinton will be a priority. So, in a way, I’m indirectly supporting Trump. That’s unavoidable. But so be it. I’m not going to push away from the table just because all of the candidates that I supported this cycle got steamrolled by Trump. That’s how politics works; you win some, you lose some. These are the cards we’ve been dealt with, but I think there is a way to avoid supporting the Republican nominee, but focus all your attention of attacking, exposing, and hopefully defeating Hillary. Heck, there could be the off chance that the billionaire might do a complete overhaul and do well at selling himself in the next eight weeks. It’s entirely possible. I’m not there yet. But the words President Hillary Clinton send chills down my spine.
Now, there’s no doubt that Trump and Clinton are the two most unpopular figures that will be the standard bearers of the Republican and Democratic parties respectively, which is why I empathize with those calling for a third party candidate. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) posted a sort of call to arms on his Facebook page. Ace of Spades had a good post on why a third party candidacy is worthwhile, especially since, in his opinion, that it won’t be a selfish vote that helps Hillary because Trump is expected to get slaughtered anyway (don’t say that just yet though):
The usual math on this is that a third party run would be disastrous and would deliver the election to Hillary. Many #NeverTrumpers, and I'm edging into that group myself, find this a weak objection in this case: Trump himself will inevitably be demolished, so there's no threat of "throwing the election." It already has been thrown.
Second, Trump represents an very stupid and dangerous form of authoritarianism. Everything with him is force and bullying. Riots at the convention if he doesn't get his way. His online trolls actively threatening people's physical safety.
I don't get it -- I'm supposed to be outraged by Lois Lerner, yet amused by this? Why? Because this will only be visited upon my enemies? First, that's not principled, that's just stupid tribalism,, and second, it's not true -- the gentle persuasions of authoritarian You Will Be Made to Buckle are already being visited on us, and by "us," I mean non-Democrats.
I personally didn't oppose the thuggishness of the left just to be bullied by a new thuggishness of the alt-right.
Some alt-righter (I imagine) drifted in to the comments -- a n00b -- to say "Wow this site is really spineless."
No, this site is showing spine -- by resisting your attempts to bend spines for Trump.
Apparently "courage" is now defined, alt-rightishly, as buckling to the right set of pressures and bullyings.
So the fire of my usual resistance to a third party is well snuffed by the two facts of our situation: 1, Trump's going to lose anyway, so we might as well have a 3rd party that can at least represent a moral... well, not victory, for it will not be victorious, but let's say a moral route of resistance.
And 2, My primary politics is anti-authoritarian. I don't like the left because they wish to be meddlesome in private economic affairs, dictatorial as to what you can do with your wealth (you can only spend you money on government-approved activities that support social justice) and increasingly fascist when it comes to speech and belief.
Many of Trump's supporters are authoritarians -- not all, mind you, some just want the wall, or to "teach DC a lesson" -- but many are thrilled by the Second Look at Authoritarianism Trump promises. The left has similarly become thrilled and dizzy at the idea of just forcing people to knuckle under.
Yet, he does add that Trump could sway his vote, but for now—he’s in on Sasse’s third party bid call:
I'm not saying I definitely couldn't support Trump -- it would depend on which of these tinpot authoritarians wished to control me less. They both want to control me, but we'll see who promises to control me less.
Trump could earn my vote, by finally understanding other people's aspirations to not have a second boss in their lives called The US Government.
But so far he has proven highly resistant to learning of any kind.
Until he does, count me in with Ben Sasse as being interested in a third party, one that will leave me the hell alone.
Now, that doesn’t mean Mitt Romney is the guy. If this man couldn’t successfully defend himself against the attack of the Obama campaign team, who think he’ll be able to rout Hillary’s team, which is equally ruthless. Bain Capital will be rehashed, binders full of women will be resurrected, and the awful “47 percent” comment will see the light of day again. Romney was a flawed candidate. We know what’s going to be brought up, and those same weaknesses were the cause for his 2012 defeat. We would also have three people who are one point in time supported mandated, government-enforced health care coverage. Trump and Hillary already do, which is bad enough. Let’s not make this election cycle any worse.