The placeholder president

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In this year’s presidential campaign, Americans are being asked to choose between two individuals who are deeply unpopular and increasingly viewed as unfit to serve.

Donald Trump’s failings are well documented. On immigration, he admits that his $20 billion security wall with Mexico can be toppled with a long rope. On commerce, he rightfully criticizes lopsided trade agreements but makes millions off of Trump merchandise produced by cheap labor abroad. On national security, he admires the strength of North Korea’s dictator, who hacks and attacks our banks and sells missiles to Iran. Trump even applauds Saddam Hussein’s use of “a little gas” – chemical warfare – that killed over 5,000 Kurdish Iraqis. Nevermind that the surviving men, women, and children are now our main partners in destroying ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

{mosads}For many of us, Mr. Trump simply doesn’t have the judgment or temperament to be president.

Yet Hillary Clinton is equally unpalatable for other reasons.  She narrowly averted an indictment over her handling of classified information, but not before an FBI investigation labeled her as “extremely careless,” “negligent,” and perhaps not “sophisticated enough” to handle our nation’s secrets.

As a Democrat and former CIA officer, I’m pained to say that this isn’t her first lapse in judgment. Just ask the parents of the 4,491 Americans who died in Iraq, a generation of young people who were led to an early grave by Sen. Clinton’s vote authorizing war and Pres. Bush’s terrible handling of it. Equally horrifying, her vote led to the rise of Al-Qa’ida in Iraq and its subsequent cousin, ISIS.

My fellow Democrats insist that Clinton’s Iraq vote was a one-time mistake. Yet nine years later, she joked about her successful killing of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, musing that “we came, we saw, he died.” But once again, no one is laughing. Libya is now a failed state.

From spilling secrets to spilling blood, Clinton does not have the judgment to be Commander in Chief nor the trust of the America people.

So what’s a voter to do in 2016?

In short, we need a one-term “placeholder” President that forces a national timeout to reshape our politics. Here’s how it could work.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and his running mate – Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld – are Libertarian Party candidates on the ballot in all 50 states. They currently have the modest support of over 10% of Americans nationally. Once that poll number reaches 15%, both men would be included in the national debates set for the fall.

If Gov. Johnson were elected president, there would be a dramatic shakeup in the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties. We would experience a peaceful (if not cantankerous) revolution that would toss out the old guard, replacing it with a new political class focused on pragmatism and common cause for the nation. The American people must be engaged in that process if it is to succeed.

Make no mistake: this isn’t a pitch for Gov. Johnson’s view of the world or our country.  To the contrary, some of his ideas are far out of the mainstream, for both my Republican friends and fellow Democrats. That’s why we should vote for our preferred party candidates in the House and Senate to serve as a counterweight to any of Gov. Johnson’s more foolish endeavors.

To be sure, a Placeholder President is not the most elegant way to run America’s democracy. But desperate times – and horrible candidates – call for desperate measures. Choosing Gov. Johnson as a Placeholder President gives us the best chance to escape both Clinton and Trump, and restart American politics. It’s the national timeout that we need.


Bryan resides in Oregon and can be followed @BryanDeanWright.

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