By editorial board • 

Third-party Johnson/Weld ticket worth look

The Libertarian Party nominated its presidential ticket over Memorial Day weekend. If you’re feeling disenfranchised by the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, you might consider voting for Gary Johnson for president and William Weld for vice president. 

This is not an endorsement for Johnson/Weld. It’s far too early, as the two major party nominations are still presumptive rather than official, despite being highly likely. Besides, most Americans don’t know much, if anything, at this point about Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico, or Weld, the former two-term governor of Massachusetts.

But with the historically high unfavorable ratings for Trump and Clinton, the time may be right to consider an America not trapped in the two-party system. Johnson’s socially liberal but fiscally conservative views will likely resonate with many voters, especially Millennials. 

According to the most recent Gallup poll on party affiliation, 44 percent of Americans consider themselves independents, 31 percent Democrats and 25 percent Republicans.

Johnson, who is already polling 10 percent against Trump and Clinton, won’t be the answer for all those on the right end of the spectrum who can’t stomach Trump or left end who burn for Bernie. But his presence on the national stage can improve the political discourse.

If he can reach 15 percent in five key polls over the summer, he will be invited to the national debates. That opportunity would give him a chance to air a platform drawing from both the right — cut waste, lower taxes, limit government reach, protect gun rights — and left — keep the government out of abortion, marriage and other social issues, and end the War on Drugs.

His participation would place more emphasis on policies and principles, less on personalities and sloganeering. It could help ease the partisanship that continues to erode the social and political fabric of America.

A 2010 article in The Economist noted, “The decline of partisanship could signal a less tribal, more educated electorate.”

Johnson will likely be the only third party candidate making the ballot in all 50 states. However, Oregon is the place where his candidacy is most in question.

Oregon’s Libertarian Party is caught in the throes of a deep divide, and the faction controlling party ballot access boycotted the convention where Johnson and Weld were nominated. A competing group is attempting to wrestle ballot access away, and is hopeful that can be accomplished in time.

Those factors would surely serve to attract many Oregon independents, along with some of the nearly half-million Oregonians who voted for Bernie Sanders, John Kasich or Ted Cruz in the May 17 primary.

Johnson’s libertarian values and policies are too radical for some and not radical enough for others. In fact, he is judged too establishment for many tried and true libertarians, as shown by the boos he drew at the convention when he supported driver-licensing.

But Johnson’s socially liberal, fiscally conservative message could resonate with middle-ground folks. The Johnson/Weld ticket could strike a blow for greater moderation and broader choice in the American political realm.

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