The Right Resistance: Why the idea of a 2024 ‘independent moderate’ candidacy stinks like fish
“Guests, like fish, smell after three days.” – Benjamin Franklin
So do politicians, apparently, though for some of them the tolerable aromatic time period lasts much longer, while for others, they reek right away. The thought came to mind as I read about a survey showing a large percentage of Americans indicated they’re open to an independent or third-party candidacy in 2024 if the presidential election choice boils down to the much-anticipated rematch between capable but volatile former President Donald Trump and the broken-down moron who currently inhabits the White House, namely senile president Joe Biden.
It seems every four years there’s the typical clamor for an “anybody but those two”, so the feelings of today’s disgruntled political followers are hardly unique. The percentages of those seeking outsiders is higher than usual, however, so the phenomenon might be worth paying attention to. It’s highly understandable how Americans could experience an urge for a new face since the next election is shaping up to feature two very familiar – and old -- ones, though after a while the decision will come down to whether the nation can sustain itself for the long term or if citizens are willing to sit and just watch their government burn, so to speak.
Does an opinion survey taken months before Biden’s first midterm election mean voters can’t – or won’t – change their minds and adopt the merits of one or the other’s impending candidacies? No. But we’re in uncharted political waters these days without a captain’s rutter to show the way. If most Democrat politicians were akin to the fish Ben Franklin was talking about in his famous quote above, they’d stink right out of the water.
Should we be concerned about an “independent” in 2024? Susan Ferrechio reported at The Washington Times last week:
“Voters, unenthusiastic about a Trump versus Biden rematch in 2024, are increasingly open to dumping the Republican and Democratic tickets entirely for an independent candidate. Two recent polls show a majority of Republican, Democratic and independent voters would consider a ‘moderate independent candidate’ if President Biden and former President Donald Trump run again.
“’Our observed aversion to the former and current president as voters begin thinking about 2024 tickets is a major opening for an independent presidential ticket,’ said Mark Penn, chairman of the Harvard-CAPS/Harris Poll, which conducted the two surveys.
“The poll of registered voters, taken at the end of June, found that 60% would consider an independent candidate in 2024 if Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump are their respective parties’ nominees. Among Democrats, the number rose to 64%, while 53% of Republicans said they would weigh an independent candidate. Among independent and other unaffiliated voters, the number willing to give an independent candidate a close look shot up to 66%.”
Get that, two-thirds of “independent” voters would consider an “independent moderate” presidential candidacy. What a shocker!
Okay, voters like the concept of an independent who isn’t Trump or Biden. Unfortunately for the dissatisfied, this nameless, faceless politician is a mythical creature not unlike The Abominable Snowman or Bigfoot or UFOs -- existing only in one’s imagination or on paper or in movie theaters but just real enough to entice gullible suckers to believe they inhabit the earth. (Note: UFOs may not fit this category.)
But the calculus changes once you start naming names. No “independent moderate” comes to mind, does it?
Voters won’t choose a “moderate” candidate because there really is no such animal. As I’ve repeatedly argued, there aren’t any “moderate” Democrats any longer. Establishment media talking heads are fond of labeling Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema as a “moderate” but only because she bucks the radical leftward lurch of the Democrat leadership on a couple issues, namely, retaining the upper chamber’s filibuster tradition and keeping corporate tax rates low.
Otherwise Sinema is a fairly standard liberal, even if she appears rather centrist by comparison to crazy nutcase kooks like Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren or Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Kyrsten will have difficulty retaining her senate seat much less garnering a significant national electoral coalition. She’s openly bisexual, and I just don’t see the country going for alternative lifestyles in the next election. This goes for the very non-moderate Pete Buttigieg too!
Some have suggested West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin could wage an independent “moderate” presidential candidacy, but I don’t see it ever happening, either. First and foremost, Manchin turns 75 next month, which hardly qualifies him for designation as a new and younger face. He’d be 77 on Election Day, 2024, so he’d already be just about as old as senile Joe Biden was when he crossed the finish line in first place.
And though Manchin may seem “moderate” alongside 99 percent of current elected Democrats, he really isn’t a centrist by any objective measure. Manchin still favors “climate change” mitigation and so-called “voting rights” legislation, just not the ultra-looney left versions that passed the House this term.
Mountain State Joe wouldn’t get away with equivocating on the campaign trail. You can’t be for “half” of a climate fix. And he recently came out and criticized Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh after the Dobbs decision, basically accusing the judges of lying to him before confirmation. Putting it bluntly, Manchin is a liberal who feels beholden to his very conservative state’s voters, folks who would turn him out of office if he strayed too far from their principles.
Besides, America isn’t as crazy about “half a loaf” as the media would have us believe. Voters liked Donald Trump precisely because he didn’t waffle – on anything. I have a hard time accepting that they’ve changed so remarkably in the past six or seven years just because some of them – or a lot of them – are tired of Trump’s personality imperfections.
Meanwhile, the “moderate” RINOs who could mount an independent run also wouldn’t get very far. How do I know? They tried it during the 2016 campaign. It seems like an eternity ago, but there was a serious and determined effort on behalf of Never-Trumpers to drum up an extra-party alternative to the GOP primary voters’ first choice. There were rumors of a GOP convention floor challenge to replace Trump with someone like John Kasich or Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan, but when the scheme didn’t materialize the desperate fools formulated an independent effort, finally settling on the strange character of Evan McMullin. McMullin was a former government hack whom no one had ever heard of. The guy was bald as a cue ball and resembled “The Great Gazoo” from the old Flintstones cartoons even though he wasn’t green. McMullin was no Ross Perot, put it that way.
Put aside the narrow if non-existent field of potential “independent” candidates and ponder how difficult it would be for any non-Republican or non-Democrat to genuinely contend against Trump and Biden. You know, little things like ballot access and local party machinery don’t come cheap for just anyone. Both major parties have state versions in all fifty locations together with teams of lawyers who navigate the legal rapids to ensure their candidates don’t hit the rocks.
Whoever this “independent” person would be would have to be extremely wealthy to self-finance such an operation or be a super-fundraiser of epic proportions. Even if there was the money available to mount the effort, would the folks who hanker for an “independent” candidate be willing to volunteer to man (or woman?) the campaign offices and do the little tasks that every Democrat or Republican counts on to beef up name recognition, brand and voter turnout?
Would this “independent” creature qualify for national TV debates? Would the pro-Democrat/Biden establishment media give this person the time of day once his or her novelty wore off? Would there be enough professional Washington swamp advisors and image promoters to appear on all of the Sunday morning news programs on the candidate’s behalf?
Label me skeptical. An “independent” candidacy wouldn’t work. It basically couldn’t work. If it were possible, someone like Donald Trump would’ve tried it sometime in the past 20 or so years.
“Independent” challenges have succeeded on the state level. Who will ever forget “Jesse the Body” Ventura’s successful Minnesota gubernatorial run in 1998? I believe Michael Bloomberg was also technically “independent” as New York City Mayor even though everyone knew he was a liberal Democrat.
It doesn’t matter. There almost certainly won’t be a legitimate “independent” third party candidate to run against the 45th and 46th presidents. The practical barriers are just too overwhelming, and in today’s highly divided, partisan atmosphere, who would qualify as a “independent moderate” anyway? One party or the other would be suspicious of the person’s motives. Eventually, everyone chooses sides, and we’re stuck with the two parties that we have.
And it’s not like there isn’t a ready-made solution at hand. Choose a candidate running in the party primaries and work to elect him or her. Or start up a petition drive to “draft” a candidate. There’s one such ongoing effort for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, called, “Ready for Ron” at https://www.readyforron.com/ . For that high percentage of Republicans who aren’t prepared for another Trump go-round, there’s already an alternative!
Ben Franklin was correct – guests, like fish, smell after three days, and so do today’s politicians. Sooner or later Americans will realize that a “white knight” independent “moderate” candidate doesn’t exist and they’ll return to pondering the best selection between the two major party hopefuls. Donald Trump ain’t perfect, not by a longshot. But in the end, he’s by far the better leader.
Plus, unlike three-day old fish – and Democrats -- he doesn’t smell bad.
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