In the debates surrounding the ratification of the Constitution, James Madison warned against the dangers of factionalism.
I doubt Madison foresaw the extent to which American government would today be paralyzed by two polarizing political parties, but his warnings certainly ring true as we consider the reality that our elected officials in Washington, DC, have reached a level of dysfunction that they cannot even agree on a real budget.
Madison, the most significant architect of the Constitution and later our fourth president, also put forth the brilliant system of checks and balances that is designed to protect us from domination by extremes.
We have legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, each with a proper scope. We have a federal government of limited and enumerated powers, with sovereignty vested in the states and in the people. And we have representative government that is designed to thwart the “sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens,” in Madison’s words.
I don’t believe that political parties are necessarily evil, or necessarily “factions.” But today, the Republican and Democratic Parties do threaten to drag our nation into division and worse.
We need another choice. Is it even remotely surprising that 60 percent of Americans believe a third major political party is needed?
I was Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. I ran as a Republican in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans — and I won re-election overwhelmingly. Ditto for my running mate Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts.
We did this by governing as fiscal conservatives and social liberals. That’s where most American want their government to be.
And that’s why, in this very topsy-turvy 2016 election year, Gov. Weld and I are striking a chord with voters.
We’ll be on the ballot as the Libertarian Party nominees in all 50 states. We’re tracking at 10 and 11 percent in polls, but we need to be included in all polls. When we reach the 15 percent threshold, we’ll have the chance to join the presidential and vice-presidential debates. And Americans will see that our campaign represents more of what they want than the alternatives.
We’re not naïve about the durability of the two-party system. But what we are seeing now is the potential collapse or splintering of both major political parties. It’s a multi-party rebellion against the establishment.
We’re seeing this trend globally. Some viewed the British referendum on leaving the European Union as a vote against the free movement of people in Europe. But it was just as much a statement about the need to keep government small and close to the people.
Our campaign here in America is part of this disruptive force. We are sick and tired of a two-party system that neglects voters who want smaller government – and also a tolerant live-and-let-live attitude.
Re-alignment of the political parties has happened before, and it can happen again. If the Republican Party takes an authoritarian turn in nominating Donald Trump as their candidate, constitutional Republicans need a political home. The same goes for Democrats who can’t stomach a career politician like Hillary Clinton.
Four years ago, I was nominated by the Libertarian Party as its presidential nominee. I can tell you that things are completely different this election. Particularly in the West and New England, serious observers are noting our potential strength.
Moreover, Gov. Weld and I continue to garner media attention and interest nationwide. As more Americans to get to know us and our records, that interest grows.
When it comes time to vote for President, Americas want a leader who can unite the country beyond the factions or parties of today. They will pick their chief executive based upon (1) experience in government; (2) character; and (3) beliefs and platform.
Americans repeatedly look to governors for President. In nine of the past 10 presidential elections, a former or sitting governor has been on the presidential ballot. The former governor won in seven of those nine elections.
Look at how Gov. Weld and I led in New Mexico and in Massachusetts. Neither Hillary nor Donald have anything like that record.
Moreover, look at what independent-minded people are saying about our campaign. They are excited to vote for something, and someone, that they believe in!
And look at our platform of cutting taxes and government spending, skepticism of foreign intervention, and ensuring personal liberties. These are not pie-in-the-sky notions. We’ve done this as governors, and we can do it again.
Gov. Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee. His running mate is former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. Learn more here.