Too little, too late for third-party candidate Gary Johnson

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This election points to the rift that exists in our nation. It is a competition of extremes. Trump and Clinton’s name-calling and bickering proves this. Hillary Clinton has had more than a handful of scandals in her political career. Donald Trump has run many businesses into the ground and seems to be a racist. These candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties have been dominating the media. But another candidate has started to enter a major public platform. Gary Johnson, a Libertarian candidate, is starting to become a familiar name in this year’s election. He may be a candidate where both parties can meet on important issues that are being discussed over these recent months. It appears that he shares stances and ideals on many issues from both parties.

Johnson entering the race adds to the quagmire that is the presidential election. Nonetheless, Johnson needs a major stage from which he can persuade voters. And this stage would be the presidential debates, the first of which he has been excluded from. His message, however, has not grown quickly enough to gain him a national spotlight heading off against Clinton and Trump.

Moreover, I feel it is too late for Gary Johnson. Clinton and Trump both announced their official campaign for Office in mid-June of 2015, while Johnson announced his campaign in January of 2016. Right off the bat, he was about seven months behind his potential competitors. As a third party candidate, Johnson would need one of the most influential and empowering campaigns to compete with both parties. Starting seven months after Clinton and Trump is not a step in the direction of an influential campaign. His campaign began as a grassroots movement at the beginning compared to Clinton and Trump. Te two have been spending millions of dollars in order to become more known and gain support. Clinton has raised over $500 million for her campaign; Trump amassed over $100 million. Meanwhile, Johnson has raised a measly $8 million compared to the Clinton and Trump powerhouses.

Johnson’s Aleppo gaffe did not help his campaign either. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Johnson was asked a question regarding Aleppo, a major Syrian city and the center of the country’s refugee crisis, and he did not recognize the city, believing it to be an acronym. Tis interview yielded Johnson’s campaign the most publicity thus far. His blunder was a huge hit to his following. Te Syrian refugee crisis has been one of the main topics of concern in this year’s election. His campaign is too small to withstand such a blow to his credibility.

Johnson’s movement has snowballed too late in the election season and will not gain enough support by the time Nov. 8th comes around. According to RealClearPolitics.com, Johnson is not leading in any state polls. He is not currently sitting in a position that will prove successful for him. It is almost October, just one month away from the election. Therefore, he is just taking away precious votes from Clinton and Trump in swing states.

It is possible in future elections that a third-party candidate could arise and assume office. This candidate must learn from Johnson in order to be successful. The candidate should establish a campaign early on and start spreading an influential message through all platforms to reach a diverse audience of voters. A third-party candidate should aspire to gather a following that brings their candidacy to the debates, which Johnson has failed to do thus far.

This election has been as chaotic as ever—from the hack of the Democratic National Committee that released emails showing favor of Clinton, to Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party. It will be interesting to see if any changes occur after this year’s election, or if one of the parties experiences a realignment. If the latter were to occur, it could create an opening for a third-party candidate like Johnson.

It is important for voters not to become zealously associated with a political party, regardless of the party’s message. Many of us vote Democrat or Republican because of the way our parents or friends vote. We should vote for the candidate that best matches our beliefs, but perhaps voting for a third-party candidate is not in our best interest this election.