Johnson, Mcmullin, and Castle all presumably took votes from Trump. But what would those voters have done if those candidates were not available? We can’t know. (If you think we can, ask yourself how the polls were so far off.) In some places, the third party candidates did not matter. (I.e., even adding their votes to those for Clinton would not have given her a win. E.g., GA, OH!) Of course, in other places (FL, UT), they *might* have. But they might not have. (Would UT conservatives voted for Clinton if McMullin was not on the ballot?)
Today is a sad day for America and the world. There are lessons to be learned from this (in no particular order):
1. Third party voters have to be careful.
2. The duopoly has to be reformed so that we get better major party candidates.
3. A less powerful government is less scary in the wrong hands than a more powerful government. Maybe you like the power big government has when your party is in the White House (or the White House and Congress), but what about when the other party is? One hope now: Congress reigns in presidential powers. But a Republican Legislature can probably do a lot with a Republican White House.
4. Racism, sexism, anti-otherism is alive and well in the US. Pretending they are not pushes them underground, where they fester and boil up. People say they won’t vote for a sexist or a racist if they fear public ridicule, but in the private voting booth, they go ahead and vote with those festering views. We need a cultural shift that makes honest conversation about difficult topics more prevalent. People like those that write for this blog and those in The Heterodox Academy can help here. More generally, those of us who honestly believe all people are of equal moral worth must stand firm against bigotry.
5. Markets tend to do a better job of seeing through BS then polls. There is a reason markets, both at home and across the world, are in the toilet. Lack of stability is a bad bad bad thing. And we just elected instability. Hopefully, things will calm down. Perhaps Pence will be the de facto President.
I suppose I assumed (begrudgingly) we’d have a Clinton Presidency and hoped the Libertarian Party would have at least 5% of the vote and thereby be invigorated for the future. That would mean that for the next couple of years, libertarians could have worked to find a candidate for 2020 that could be a contender. Someone with (most of) Johnson’s views (bleeding heart libertarianism) but without his awkwardness. That’s still a consideration, but all of the structural factors that worked against Johnson remain as they were before this election.
The Democratic Party elite must do some deep thinking and figure out (a) how not to piss off large portions of the American population and (b) what candidate(s) both represent the basic views of the party but are also better at attracting voters. One optimistic friend on the left thinks 4 years of a Trump presidency can get a Warren presidency. I’d caution against that sort of thinking.
The Republican Party elite will hopefully also do some deep thinking. They lost their party this year. Perhaps they can get it back. I would guess that working with Pence is the best hope for that. If they don’t succeed, the realignment of American politics is straightforward: the Democrats represent the establishment elite and the Republicans represent populism.
A final note: one positive about Trump, in my view, is that he actually responds to those he dialogues with. The presidential debates in particular, but really much of political discourse in the US for the last few decades, have not been genuine dialogues. They have been more about sound bites and talking points. One candidate says P and her opponent says not-P and neither says anything about why the other thinks as they do, or is wrong. We need genuine and honest dialogue. We need to actually listen to what others say and try to see things from their point of view. Only then can we really analyze their views and hope to have them really analyze ours. And only with that sort of open, honest, genuine dialogue can we hope to do better.