There are two third-party candidates on the ballot for president this year: Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, and Jill Stein of the Green Party. I wrote briefly of these two candidates, their views, and their chances in this election in a post in July, and I thought this would be a good time to take a look at their current activities and how their campaigns are going. With Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dominating the news these days, we haven’t heard a lot from Johnson and Stein.
According to Real Clear Politic’s aggregate of polls, Johnson currently stands at 7.3% and Stein at 2.4% of the vote.
In a September 8th interview on MSNBC, Johnson was asked how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in Aleppo. (Link to video) ] Johnson first said, “Huh”, then “And what is Aleppo?” Astonished MSNBC commentator Mike Barnicle first said, “You’re kidding.” But once Johnson assured him that he was not kidding, Barnicle proceeded to explain in very simple terms that “Aleppo is in Syria. It’s the epicenter of the refugee crisis …” Johnson: “Okay … got it! Well, with regard to Syria, I do think that it’s a mess. I think the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia …” It is almost painful to watch. But it doesn’t end there …
On Wednesday (28 September), again on MSNBC in a town hall-style interview, Johnson was asked by host Chris Matthews, “Who’s your favourite foreign leader?” Johnson stumbled, looked around as if hoping to wake up and find himself anywhere but there, and finally said, “I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment.” At least the guy can laugh at himself. Matthews tried his best to help Johnson, saying, “Any one of the continents, any country, name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to, anybody.” But still Johnson drew a blank. It goes on, but as with the ‘Aleppo moment’, it is painful to watch. I actually felt sorry for the man. I cannot help but think that ‘Aleppo moment’ will become a pop-culture expression, and when I forget where I put the pasta I just bought yesterday, I will say, “Oops … I must be having an Aleppo moment!”
Nobody is perfect, nobody can remember everything that goes on in the entire world. However … I think most adults who are able to read know where Aleppo is and are aware of its significance in the world today, and I think even those who have not picked up a newspaper for the past decade could name at least one foreign leader. This man claims he is capable of being the President and Commander-in-Chief of one of the most influential western nations, yet he does not know about the #1 hotspot and cannot name a single foreign leader? In the beginning, I had some respect for Mr. Johnson, but now I merely have sympathy for him. How in the heck is he ranking 7.3% in the aggregate polls when he cannot answer a simple foreign policy question? Oh wait, never mind … I just answered my own question. And Johnson has slipped from about 9% last week, so it is likely that his ineptitude is having an effect on his ranking.
Ms. Stein is not faring any better these days than Mr. Johnson. First, Ms. Stein joined a protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North Dakota in the beginning of September. Not content to simply carry a sign, or voice her protest, Ms. Stein spray-painted the words “I approve this message” on a piece of equipment – a bulldozer. You can watch for yourself . Stein was charged the next day in Morton County with misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and criminal mischief.
Then, to add insult to injury, she attempted to prove herself more informed than her opponent, Mr. Johnson, by poking fun at him via Twitter1. She named Elizabeth May, João Stédile, and Jeremy Corbyn. Unfortunately, none of the three are actually world leaders, as Politico was quick to point out. Ms. Stein responded to the criticism by saying, “I admire real leaders, not politicians who sell their people out to the global economic elite for power.” Sigh.
There you have it, folks. It would appear that third-party candidates cannot afford competent campaign staff to coach them. I predicted in July that neither of these third-party candidates had a chance of winning this election. I stand by my earlier prediction. Anybody disagree?
1 Why is it that all communication from the candidates this year seems to happen via Twitter. Is it that they are only capable of thinking 140 letters at a time? Personally, I dislike Twitter and never tweet, though my blog posts are automatically shared on Twitter.