It’s been said ad nauseum over the past few months: 2016 could be the year of the third party. You can read about it here, here, here, here, and here. With crooked Hillary Clinton and Deplorable Donald Trump (no, I don’t think he’s deplorable; Hillary does) winning the Democratic and Republican nominations for president respectively, these two candidates’ historically high unfavorables had pundits and pollsters declaring that now could be prime territory for a third party candidate to emerge as the rational choice. Yeah, that lasted all about five seconds. Green Party candidate Jill Stein has a murky history with vaccines and pretty much has no idea what she’s talking about on a whole host of issues. Libertarian Gary Johnson has had trouble with geography and foreign affairs.
Earlier this month, he blanked on Aleppo, the Syrian city that’s at the epicenter of the nation’s brutal civil war, which is becoming a more salient news item due to the consistent bombing by Russian air jets that some say isn’t falling within the realm of anti-terror operations, but instead taking on the face of abject barbarism. It’s a humanitarian crisis. Johnson didn’t know. And he made things worse when he couldn’t name one single foreign leader that he admires during a MSNBC town hall event with Chris Matthews (via Politico):
Pressed by “Hardball” host Chris Matthews to “name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to,” Johnson stumbled.
“I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment in the former president of Mexico,” Johnson said.
“Well which one?” Matthews angrily insisted.
“I’m having a brain freeze,” the Libertarian nominee replied.
“Well, name anybody,” Matthews said, drawing another empty stare from Johnson.
William Weld, the Libertarian vice presidential nominee, then made an attempt to rescue his running mate, listing Fox and other politicians, at which point Johnson properly recalled it.
For any foreign policy guru, this is alarming. For any conservative, it shows once again that it’s a roll of the dice when it comes to libertarians, international affairs, and national security. Some defended Johnson, saying his admission was admirable, and there was a slight spike in searches on Aleppo after his trip up. It still doesn’t mitigate that fact that his candidacy is a joke. At the same time, it's a bit odd that the media went a bit crazy for this gaffe since the Syrian Civil War has not been front and center due to the fact that it’s a rather glaring foreign policy shortfall for the Obama administration.
Still, these are national candidates for president; they should know these things. With this latest flub over naming a single foreign leader, the biggest softball in the history of softballs, Johnson should've easily answered this one. He failed miserably. If there’s one thing that this cycle has shown, it’s that going third party isn’t a viable alternative for those willing to come out of this election cycle with a clear conscience. We two major party candidates are weak and unpopular. We have third party candidates who are nut bar factor six. In the end, if you want to stop the Democrat, vote Republican and vice-versa. Second, third parties will remain third parties because they pick people who are both un-serious and unable to win the presidency. Trump is un-serious, but he was able to win the primaries by bulldozing 15+ other candidates and he could win this election. If that means that Hillary won’t be president, that’s fine by me—and yes, we’ll be just fine if he wins. The sweet meteor of death won’t be striking earth, though I know some hope for that conclusion this wild election season. Sorry libertarians, but Johnson isn’t doing your brand any favors.