“I can’t even imagine a third party president. How would he or she operate without any support in congress?” We hear that a lot. In the past we also wondered how this could possibly work. Wouldn’t both establishment parties gang up destroy anything the president proposed? If the Johnson-Weld ticket actually won this could well be the outcome and 4 years would go down the drain without anything accomplished. Maybe the only the only good from it might be the chastened establishment parties putting up future candidates that don’t make us gag. That alone would be reason to vote for them. With Johnson-Weld, however, one could imagine a much different outcome. As fiscal conservatives but culturally liberal they could propose much needed legislation that appeals to the opposition parties, just not the same ones.
Let’s take two areas absolutely in need of resolution, entitlements and immigration. If not resolved they will truly damage the nation. Just down the road entitlements will virtually eat the national budget. Anyone looking at the numbers knows this is frighteningly true. Yet Democrats will fight any attempt attempt at reform. Republicans in the house have tried to face up to the problem but the Dems ran ads showing them pushing granny off a cliff. To make matters worse their own presidential candidate mirrors the democrats “no touch” policy. Immigration can’t even be brought up in the Republican House, even though the lack of a cohesive policy is literately tearing the country apart. Consecutive two term Republican and Democrat Presidents failed to move the ball on either nor is it likely to change if either party wins in ’16. By contrast Johnson-Weld actually favor tackling both and therein lies hope.
Any president inherently controls things members of congress want and need. Add the ability to position your proposals as the middle ground as opposed to one or the other party’s more extreme positions and you have the real chance to produce compromises opposed by the party bases but accepted because they fear ending up with something much worse. The president could encourage each party to present those extreme positions. For the Republicans say social security delayed to 72 and the democrats citizenship for most of the 11 million illegals. Plenty of room to get inside those positions and compromise. For instance, social security eligibility rising to 70 over a period of years and only legal status and never citizenship for illegals. Arranging a log rolling pairs where one support this and another support that in congress to pass legislation each favors would be a workable tactic. “O.K. I’ll vote for your entitlement bill but you have to back me on immigration.” Two experienced two term blue state governors could be counted on to pull the proper levers. One thing they’ve both dealt with were hostile legislatures and had great accomplishments. But the biggest advantage a President Johnson would possess is that everyone could blame him. “The President forced us into this by threatening to join with the other guys for an even worse bill. We can’t wait to get rid of this dufus. You got to vote for us next election so this won’t happen again.” each party could proclaim to their respective basses. They could justify votes they know in their hearts needed to be cast by simply blaming the President. While it’s normal to blame the president of the other party, here both parties have the out allowing far greater range for needed compromises.
If this formula works in these two areas, other problems crying for attention such as tax reform, trade, the war on drugs, regulatory bloat and criminal justice reform could be tackled. Resolution in any or all these long standing unresolved issues just might calm the nation’s divisions and lead to a better economy. All this looks like the Johnson-Weld wish list fulfilled, but of course, at a cost of the establishment parties bases looking to put Johnson’s head on a pike.
While ire might be a great motivation for these parties, in actuality a 4 year “time out” might be a great benefit. Both need to decide what exactly they stand for and how they select leaders capable of achieving their goals. Are the Democrats for a socialist state? Are Republicans really nativists longing to wall the nation off from others and their goods? Is the present system of primaries, caucuses and conventions producing standard bearers that they’re proud of? Time to find the way forward and maybe even re-alignment would do both a world of good. If you don’t think this is needed just think Donald and Hillary. Do you really want this dysfunction to continue?
Gary Johnson and Bill Weld wouldn’t expect any thanks from the Republicans and Democrats and they’d probably wouldn’t get any, but if they’re right a majority of Americans are fiscally conservative and culturally liberal, the people might appreciate their efforts. If so….Second Term?