Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 9, 2016 - Another presidential candidate enters the fray, and other stories

Another presidential candidate enters the race
His name is Evan McMullin, and the announcement is apparently sincere. His background is in the CIA, and he was a leading aid for Congressional Republicans. And that's it. So you can be forgiven for never having heard of him before.

Given his background, it appears he'll be trying to target the Republicans who are too committed to being pro-war to support Trump or Johnson, but still despise Hillary Clinton too much to vote for her. This is threading the needle at its finest. And it stands little to no chance of being victorious--because he cannot even gain ballot access in many states at this point.

But then, the purpose here is not to win. Rather, the purpose appears to be fulfilling the dream of the #NeverTrump movement. It remains to be seen how many voters will be persuaded to vote for a candidate that is essentially just a vote for none of the above.

Third party lawsuit to join presidential debates partially dismissed
Presidential candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson filed a lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates in order to be included in the debates. Last week, that lawsuit was dismissed.

While many may be unhappy about it, it seems to clearly be the right decision. Indeed, in an ironic twist, the judge in the case appeared to have a slightly better grasp of libertarian views than the libertarian candidate does.

You see, per CNN, the lawsuit offered two key arguments: antitrust violations, and First Amendment violations.

On the first count, the lawsuit alleged that the CPD's exclusion of certain candidates violated antitrust laws intended to prevent alleged abuses of monopolies. The problem is that many libertarians (myself included) don't think antitrust laws should exist. Gary Johnson probably doesn't share this view, but there's still something unsettling about the libertarian candidate trying to use government coercion (via lawsuit) for political advantage. It seems justice was better served by failure in this case.

Meanwhile, the second charge was that the CPD was violating the candidate's First Amendment rights to free speech--by not giving them a larger platform to speak. This sounds silly just to write out, but the judge mustered a more substantive disagreement. The CPD is a private nonprofit entity, and the First Amendment only prevents discrimination by government actors. This is precisely how libertarians understand the First Amendment, so it's a little strange the argument was advanced at all.

Ultimately, all of this is the appropriate outcome. The alternative is a world where the major news networks are coerced to give airtime to candidates against their will. I may not like the candidates that CNN, MSNBC, and Fox insist on emphasizing, but it should still be up to their discretion.

Trump offers a good but dangerous economic plan
Trump introduced a new economic plan Monday. It ends up being a mix of tax cuts and deregulation along with Trump's signature protectionist stances.

The details are thoroughly unimportant, since it's unlikely the plan will be passed as is anyway. But it does matter how it's being received--as the latest iteration of supply-side or free market economic thinking. This isn't really a valid description, but it is likely to stick.

For people, unlike Trump, who really do believe in free market principles, this is an ominous sign. Because it means if an economic crash happens on his watch, the "free market" will again be blamed.

For more on this story--and a rant on the New York Times's coverage thereof--check out our full analysis here.

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