Do We Need More Candidates for the Presidency?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton with medical professionals at Cooper University Hospital’s MD Anderson Cancer Center in Camden, New Jersey, May 11, 2016. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

W.J. Astore

Readers of this blog know I’m not enamored with either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump for the presidency.  Since both candidates have high negatives, I’m sure many Americans share my sentiments.  The question is: Do we need more “major” candidates for the presidency?  (Leaving aside Libertarian, Green, and similar “fringe” party candidates.)

Many Republicans would welcome an alternative candidate to Trump, a true establishment conservative, someone like House Speaker Paul Ryan.  Of course, Ryan has recently vowed to work together with Trump, so that option is out.  Similarly, many Democrats would welcome a more progressive alternative to Clinton, a principled liberal. someone like Bernie Sanders.  But Sanders has ruled out a third party run, so we’re back at square one with Trump versus Clinton.

But what would happen if more “big name” presidential candidates threw their hat in the ring?  In that event, I think the most likely ending is the election of Donald Trump.  Trump has succeeded in mobilizing new voters and rallying them to his cause.  He is, in short, a charisma candidate.  His supporters, I sense, are less likely to bolt to new candidates. Clinton, in contrast, is the very definition of the establishment.  Her support is broader than Trump’s but also weaker, and therefore more vulnerable to third- and fourth-party challengers.

It appears we’re stuck with Trump versus Clinton this fall since no new candidate, say one with name recognition and financial means like Michael Bloomberg, who’s already said no, wants to be branded as the spoiler who ensured a Trump victory.

According to the experts, who don’t have the greatest track record in this election, the electoral map is “completely daunting” for Trump.  Perhaps so.  But it would be foolish indeed to underestimate Trump’s chances against Hillary, given his gift for political posturing and her lack of appeal to independents and other fence-straddlers.

With nearly six months still to go between now and the election in November, almost anything could happen.  The smart money remains on Clinton.   My CNN Primary calendar gives her a two-in-three chance of victory, but that means Trump has a 1-in-3 chance, and who guessed that in 2015?

The question is: Will the smart money prevail?

One thought on “Do We Need More Candidates for the Presidency?

  1. Yes. More parties, certainly. Actually we already have them. Unfortunately, without eliminating the Electoral College and introducing Instant Runoff (or Ranked Choice) voting, viable alternative parties will just result in the House of Representatives selecting the U.S. president and the Senate selecting the Vice President, as per the Twelfth Amendment, I believe.

    So, first get rid of the archaic and anti-democratic Electoral College. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” as the Chinese like to say.


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