So hey, did you all know that this is a presidential election year in the U.S. of A.? It's true! Much has been made of the fact that the two R/D choices available to voters in November are both sub-optimal. Some people see this as one candidate being flawed but acceptable, and the other being irredeemable. And some people see it ... in exactly the same terms, but with the descriptors flipped for the respective candidates. All of which is pretty much par for the course for partisan American politics in the 21st century.
(For the record, I'm With Her, for three reasons: her platform is one I very much agree with; her opponent's platform is one I very much disagree with; her opponent is a giant lump of orange dickcheese masquerading as a human in physical form but failing every conceivable test of having a human soul.)
And then there are some other people who insist on trying to slip between the horns of the dilemma, and full-throatedly back a Third Party Option. It seems like 2016 in particular has brought out a lot more of these folks than usual, or maybe has brought out the usual ranks more loudly than usual. Maybe it's just that this is the first prez-cycle during which I've been connected to Facebook. Maybe it's just been long enough since Nader in 2000 that the pendulum was due to swing again, or maybe it's not so much the pure passage of time as an unavoidable side-effect of eight years of relatively successful Democratic control of the White House and the potential for four more.
And I don't discount the undeniable influence of the major party candidates themselves. They sure are unpopular! If either one were running against almost anyone else, we'd be gearing up for a historic landslide, and if neither were running, it would likely be the same old, same old ho-hum party line voting. But with both in the mix, a large number of people are generally put off and discouraged, which does present a particularly opportune-looking moment for a third party to seize.
Don't get me wrong, I said "opportune-looking" for a reason. Looks can be deceiving. A third party is not going to win the Presidency; a third party most likely won't win a single electoral vote. Nevertheless, the neither/nors are whooping it up this year, convinced they have a real shot if only the sheeple would wake up and do the right thing!
In particular, I am of course talking about the Libertarians, and I have noticed a distressing trend amongst them (by which I mean, in the Facebook feeds of people I know who are All In For Johnson): they seem to spend less time touting the virtues of their candidate than in loudly declaiming that both R/D candidates are equally bad (which is absolutely absurd on the face of it by any rational metric) or going even further and asserting that SHE is even WORSE than HE is (which, see previous aside, times a million).
And how do they back up these specious claims impugning the Democratic candidate? Basically by regurgitating every piece of Republican mud-slinging, rumor-mongering, paranoia-stoking agitprop of the past 25 years.
How to account for this? The way I see it, there are two possibilities:
ONE: For all their smug boasting and bragging about how they are all fiercely independent free-thinkers and not mindless drones like the sorry two-party-system supporters, Libertarians are actually pretty stupid. They see multiple congressional inquiries yielding up absolutely nothing not as exoneration, but as proof that "something fishy is going on with that woman". The decades-long existence of the witchhunt proves that the witchhunt absolutely needs to exist. It seems strange that someone who was not already devoutly, rabidly Republican would latch onto this as an irrefutable truth, but I can't say it beggars belief. Libertarianism is political philosophy for babies. It requires a solipsistic worldview and a fundamentally backwards belief that, after two world wars and decades of cold war and the (not so much) recent global war on terror, the U.S. can just go back to international isolationism with no consequences whatsoever. It is the belief that life will be best for everyone if everyone can do whatever they want and no one is ever forced to help anyone else in need and all disputes are settled by the invisible hand of the free market. It's kind of cute when an eighteen year old discovers and embraces Libertarianism, but one would hope that a certain combination of empathy and pragmatism would eventually win out. For someone to be thirty- or forty-something and Libertarian just strikes me as pathetic arrested development. So yeah, maybe that contingent is incapable of critical reasoning, and ripe for the brainwashing by Republican oppo "research".
TWO: Libertarians are actually super-geniuses! They are deeply cynical master manipulators playing three-dimensional chess and thinking seventeen moves ahead. They realized all along that it's mathematically impossible for a third party to get even a plurality of votes when 35 - 40% of people are hardcore Dems and 35 - 40% of people are hardcore GOP and only 20 - 30% of the votes, tops, are actively in play. They further realized that the only way to increase the free share was to knock down the Big Two; it really is a zero-sum game in that sense. And on top of all that, they realized that HIS campaign was always smoke and mirrors and would eventually implode, so they strategically focused on knocking HER down as many pegs as possible. They see right through the bullshit that the Republicans have been peddling since the 90's but they also recognize that it has a certain hypnotic power through repetition, so they took hold of it to wield at will in their effort to level the playing field. So in the end, Libertarians are just another flavor of politicians, playing the same games, devoid of principles, defining truth as "whatever benefits me most in this election", and desperately hoping no one notices. That's not even a put down, really, it just is what it is, human nature when people jockey for power.
As I said, this all occurs to me because of specific things I've seen posted on social media by specific people, people I consider friends. And I honestly don't know which explanation would make me sadder.