Election 2016: The Good, the Bad and the Trumpy

Well, the most contentious election of my lifetime is in the books. Let’s take a look at how it affected  three political parties.

The Libertarian Party

Governor Gary Johnson

Governor Gary Johnson received 4,123,115 votes nationwide, or about 3% of the total. That was less than the 5% needed to qualify for public campaign funding assistance, but it was the highest third party presidential vote total since Ross Perot in 1996.

In Iowa, Johnson got 58,796 votes (3.8%). This obviously passed the 2% threshold to secure major party status from the state of Iowa. This will present many advantages to the party. They explain in a recent press release:

“’Voters ask us why they don’t hear about Libertarian candidates until late in an election,’ said Campaigns and Elections Chair James Schneider. ‘Our candidates have been campaigning for months, but they have not been allowed to file their candidacy papers until August – and often the media and polls do not acknowledge a candidate until papers are filed.’ As a Political Party, Libertarians will now be able to file for office before primary elections [in June].”

Besides the presidential race, the party ran Chuck Aldrich for U.S. Senate and Bryan Jack Holder for U.S. Representative District 3. By my unofficial count the Libertarians had 6 candidates for Iowa Senate, 12 candidates for Iowa House and 3 candidates for county offices. There are also 6 Libertarians currently holding office in the state.

The party will continue to grow and build its organization throughout the state in preparation for its first primary election in 2018. If your willing to help, either as a candidate or volunteer, please contact james@lpia.org or keith@lpia.org. Oh, and don’t forget to change your voter registration to Libertarian.

The Democrat Party

Going into the final stretch the presidential race appeared to be Hillary Clinton’s to lose and lose it she did! Given the high unfavorability ratings of both candidates, I don’t think this can be seen so much as an endorsement of Trump as merely a repudiation of Clinton.

Polling from the final days of the campaign showed that most voters thought Trump would be terrible, but Clinton would be slightly worse. Add in the fact that Hillary and the Democrats are quickly becoming personae non gratae in much of flyover country and add months of leaked emails showing that she’s corrupt and dishonest and you’ve got a recipe for electoral defeat.

Obama won Iowa with 822,000 votes in 2012. If Hillary could have held onto those votes she would have beat Trump’s 798,000 votes. Instead, Hillary ran off 172,000 Iowa Obama voters and ended the night with 650,000 votes.

Hillary apologists have blamed third parties, FBI director James Comey, the bigoted electorate and other things for Hillary’s defeat. But think: Her name was booed during an opening prayer at her own party’s convention. People were chanting “Lock her up!” at her own party’s convention. If large  factions of her own party hate her, why on Earth should independents and cross-over voters line up to support her? If the Democrats had nominated a candidate that wasn’t universally reviled, that candidate could have mopped the floor with Donald Trump (who is largely reviled). It’s natural for the Democrats to spend some time crying in their beer. But, in the long run, unless they’re willing to really examine the shit stains in their own laundry bag they’ll probably keep losing big elections.

Before I let go of the Democrats, let me make one final point: The party really needs to get it’s mind right on Second Amendment issues. One big reason voters in rural America lean Republican is because of the Democrats’ support of gun control. This even helped the Dems lose control of the state senate in Iowa, where Iowa Firearms Coalition’s PAC set up a special fund for the sole purpose of flipping that house.

Supporting the right to keep and bear arms needn’t be a partisan issue. I recall during a Democrat primary debate, Jim Webb spoke in defense of the Second Amendment. Most of the other Democrats acted like he was from Pluto, except Bernie Sanders from Vermont who at least acknowledged that “the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states.” (Then Hillary and the DNC torpedoed his campaign.)

Of course Hillary always says she supports the Second Amendment but also supports every imaginable restriction or ban upon gun ownership, so what the hell? Gun owners don’t care that she now calls it “common sense gun safety” rather than “gun control.” Trump might call it a “romantic interlude” when he’s shoving someone down a couch; that doesn’t change what it is.

The Republican Party

It was a pretty good election for the GOP despite (or perhaps because of) low voter turnout. Trump took the Whitehouse and the party retained its control of the U.S. House and Senate. While Hillary’s numbers were down 172,000 in Iowa compared to Obama’s, Trump got 68,000 more votes in Iowa than Romney did in 2012. (Romney: 730,000 Trump: 798,000)  The GOP retained the Iowa State House and took over the State Senate. (Republican Terry Branstad still holds the governor’s mansion, which was not up for grabs this year.)

A lot of folks are freaking out over Trump’s election. I listed some of my problems with him here, namely that he’ll ride roughshod over the Constitution and continue to swell the national debt. Also he’ll be an aggressive nativist on immigration and totally anti-free trade. If you want a list of his personal faults, flip on a TV.

But there are some rays of hope for libertarians. He’s promising a lot of nice-sounding Republicany-type stuff: term limits on Congress, reducing the federal workforce, reducing federal regulation, canceling Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders, and perhaps eliminating the federal Department of Education. Ironically, Trump may be less hawkish than his opponent from the supposedly dovish Democrat Party. Lastly, I have fewer visions of my gun being pried from my cold, dead hands under a Trump administration

I’m not too optimistic, but we’ll see what happens. Trump is the president; I don’t have to like it, but I do have to deal it. Whatever happens it promises to be interesting and entertaining. Buckle up and try to enjoy the ride, folks.

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