Nobody seems interested in launching an independent presidential bid. Condoleezza Rice, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, Oklahoma ex-Sen. Tom Coburn, mogul Mark Cuban, ex-Marine Gen. James Mattis, Indiana ex-Gov. Mitch Daniels … the list of refuseniks gets longer by the day.
Bill Kristol, the conservative pundit-activist who’s spearheading the quest for a Trump alternative (along with Trump-hating Republican strategists Mark Murphy and Rick Wilson, plus conservative leader Erick Erickson) was asked the other day whether anyone would actually step forward. Kristol replied: “I think there’s a decent chance it will happen.”
But given his infamous track record — he predicted in ’07 that Barack Obama wouldn’t win a single primary; he predicted circa ’02 that the Iraq invasion would be a piece of cake — we can be fairly confident that wrong-way Bill will strike out again.
And no wonder. Because this recruitment bid seems doomed at the starting gate — for four simple reasons:
1. The ballot access hurdles are very high.
This is the most boring reason, so let’s dispense with it first. In most states, the two major parties make it very difficult for independent interlopers to get on the ballot. (Pennsylvania is notoriously one of the worst.) Ballot laws are a lot like beach acccess restrictions; the folks who own shore property typically try to bar the newbies.
An independent candidate needs big bucks just to gather the requisite (and often prohibitive) number of signatures, and needs big bucks to pay all the lawyers who will inevitably go to court either to defend the signatures or plead for extended filing deadlines.
And speaking of deadlines, it’s already too late for an independent candidate to get on the ballot in Texas. It will soon be too late (June 9) to get on the ballot in North Carolina. And by mid-July, it will be too late for Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. There’s still time to get on the Texas ballot if a new candidate creates a new party, but he or she would need to pull that off by next Sunday. Which is hard to do when there’s still no candidate.
2. The candidate is guaranteed to lose.
Ross Perot, the most successful independent in the last 100 years (he got early 20 million votes in 1992), totally flunked the Electoral College. Didn’t win a single state. Renegade Republican Theodore Roosevelt, helming his progressive Bull Moose party, managed to win six states in 1912 – but all he did was split the Republican vote and clear the way for Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
Bll Kristol says he’s looking for “a Republican of integrity and honor” to rescue the GOP from Trump’s repugnance, but the likeliest scenario is that such a candidate would split the Republican vote in swing and purple states – like Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, and New Hampshire – and propel Hillary Clinton to victory a la Wilson in 1912. Which brings us to reason #3.
Any renegade Republican who greased the wheels for Hillary would be a party pariah forevermore.
Ben Sasse, Mitch Daniels, Condoleezza Rice, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry – none of them want to wear that label. None of them want to be tagged as the GOP’s Nader. They’d spend the rest of their lives getting Twitter-bombed. Sasse is reportedly eyeing a 2020 Republican bid; if he’d yes to Kristol, four years hence he’d be lucky to get a job organizing the balloon drop. And speaking of Twitter-bombs…
Nobody wants to incur the vicious wrath of Trumplandia.
What normal human being, especially someone with young kids (like Sasse), would want to deal with that? And I’m here to tell you that it’s truly something to behold. Trump has inspired all sorts of creatures to spew emails that, in an earlier era, would’ve been scrawled in crayon.
And Rick Wilson, the anti-Trump Republican strategist, said earlier this month that prospective candidates are indeed wary: “Trump is such an asshole, and the people who surround him and his troll army and all this other stuff, they are aggressively dickish to all other forms of human life. So that’s clearly in some people’s head spaces.”
At this rate, Trump-hating Republicans will probably resort to posting an ad on Craigslist.
Desperately seeking sucker for suicide mission. Two arms and legs required.
Meanwhile, speaking of vicious wrath:
The Bernie Bros are at it again. They’re so ticked off that their failed hero has come up short on Nevada delegates (he lost the February caucus, by the way) that they’re taking it out on Nevada Democratic chairwoman Roberta Lange. Here’s the “revolution” in action:
“It’s been vile,” said Ms. Lange, who riled Sanders supporters by refusing their requests for rule changes at the event in Las Vegas. “It’s been threatening messages, threatening my family, threatening my life, threatening my grandchild.”
Ms. Lange … has received more than 1,000 calls since Saturday night and as many as three text messages per minute. The threats, which came from men and women from across the country, were haunting and personal.
“Loved how you broke the system,” one person wrote in a text message that said he or she knew where Ms. Lange’s grandchildren went to school. “Prepare for hell. Calls won’t stop.”
Another person left a voice mail message saying he thought Ms. Lange should be “hung in public execution” for her actions.
Isn’t that special. I think the Beatles said it best:
You say you want a revolution Well, you know We all want to change the world … But when you talk about destruction Don’t you know that you can count me out