In an effort to benefit from a better-known candidate’s embarrassment, independent conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin took a shot at Gary Johnson after the Libertarian candidate had a senior — or maybe stoner — moment in an interview when he didn’t recognize the key Syrian city of Aleppo.
“He has no knowledge of foreign policy. He spends his time advocating for legalized prostitution and for a drug culture here in America, rather than dealing with problems that are really big, like our economy and national security and government reform,” he said while appearing on CNN on Friday afternoon. “Gary Johnson just is not a serious candidate.”
Maybe not, but Johnson is the representative of an actual political party that’s been around for more than four decades, with a highly articulated ideology and millions of sympathizers beyond its immediate ranks. It’s on the ballot in all 50 states.
McMullin is on the ballot, so far, in nine states. He represents himself and a scattered group of #NeverTrumpers who, like Trotskyists during the Stalin Era, dispute their party’s takeover by sinister forces. Like Trotskyists, they are a querulous tribe prone to tedious hair-splitting and factional warfare.
Johnson has been the governor of a small but most definitely recognizable state, New Mexico. McMullin’s been a CIA agent and a congressional staffer.
As for their goals, even if you accept McMullin’s caricature of the Johnson platform and ignore vibrant Libertarian policy ideas like privatizing the sidewalks, a reasonably significant number of Americans undoubtedly care about being able to work as or patronize prostitutes and/or smoke dope. McMullin’s chief goal is to throw the presidential election into the House of Representatives by winning somewhere between one and six electoral votes and hoping Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump manage a tie. You tell me which cause is more “serious.”