Earning my presidential vote: intangibles and the endorsement
Back in September 2015, when I made my initial endorsement out of the Republican field, my intangibles consisted of several factors: executive experience, the candidate website (as I admitted at the time, somewhat picayune), and other issues they brought up.
Now I have a smaller field, with just five contenders who I can vote for here in Maryland: Darrell Castle/Scott Bradley of the Constitution Party, James Hedges/Bill Bayes of the Prohibition Party, Tom Hoefling/Steve Schulin of America’s Party, Gary Johnson/William Weld of the Libertarian Party, and independents Evan McMullin/Mindy Finn.
If you want to review the entirety of this series before you read on (so as to get caught up), you can find my initial criteria for selection and my key issues: education, Second Amendment, energy, social issues, trade and job creation, taxation, immigration, foreign policy, entitlements, and role of government. It’s a lot of reading and quite a bit of research – but just think of it as me doing the work for you and you will be okay.
There are five points at stake here, and one feature of this area is that it can be subtractive as well – a candidate can lose points.
Obviously there is only one candidate with executive experience, and that is former governor Gary Johnson. So he receives a point for that.
In the original rendition I awarded (or deducted) up to two points for the candidate’s website, feeling that it’s now the first place voters turn to in order to make their decision. However, I am amending this to a one-point addition or deduction for a reason I’ll explain in a moment.
Darrell Castle has a website that is a little clunky, but once you find the issues page he not only has positions laid out, but links to dozens of his podcasts he’s done over the last few years, which are categorized by topic. It reminds me a lot of Carly Fiorina’s campaign website except much of the content is audio rather than video. He adds the point to his total.
James Hedges has a more rudimentary website that I found to be not all that helpful. I had to do a little more digging to find his positions, which to the average voter means he will be passed by. They have the Prohibition Party platform but only a supplemental link to one issue out of many listed. He loses one point.
With a philosophy of a modern “front porch” campaign, I found the website of Tom Hoefling to be just okay. However, he is very active on social media as well, which is how I learned about a couple of the policy positions I couldn’t glean from the main site – I asked him directly. It can almost be annoying to follow him; then again, if you think of all the e-mail you get from a specific candidate, seeing his name pop up on notifications on an hourly basis or more isn’t too terrible. So he adds the point.
Gary Johnson has a very good website, which reflects his national standing as he has the resources to keep it updated. As you read, the issues page is very comprehensive so I didn’t have to use many other resources. He gets the point.
The same goes for Evan McMullin, although I don’t care quite as much for the website design. He has a very comprehensive issues page, which has probably made up half of the wordage of this series. One thing I didn’t add in my descriptions is that he contrasts himself to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with his policy writings. So he gets the one point, too.
Because of the nature of these candidacies, ballot access isn’t automatic as it is for the Republican/Democrat duopoly. (Since the two parties make the rules, they tend to discourage competition. It’s a symptom of what is wrong with our current political system.) So it’s worthwhile to know just how accessible these candidates are.
- Darrell Castle/Scott Bradley: on ballot in 24 states, write-in 23 states (and Washington, D.C.), pending write-in access in California. Locally they are a write-in for both Maryland and Delaware.
- James Hedges/Bill Bayes: on ballot in 3 states, write-in 10 states. Locally only Maryland voters can write Hedges in.
- Tom Hoefling/Steve Schulin: on ballot in 2 states, write-in 37 states (and Washington, D.C.), pending write-in access in California. Locally they are a write-in for both Maryland and Delaware.
- Gary Johnson/William Weld: on ballot in all states, including Maryland and Delaware.
- Evan McMullin/Mindy Finn: on ballot in 11 states, write-in 32 states (and Washington, D.C.). Locally they are a write-in for both Maryland and Delaware; however, they are filed with Nathan Johnson as VP candidate. This was done in order to qualify for access; Finn was selected later by McMullin as his intended VP. If elected, Nathan Johnson will resign as VP in favor of Finn, who is the only woman in this group.
Because all but Hedges can secure enough electoral votes to be president, they get credit for ballot access – 0.5 points for Castle, Hoefling, and McMullin, and 1 point for Johnson.
As part of this section, I also wrote up a short bio detailing the experience for each candidate.
Darrell Castle turned 68 years old on October 11. He served in Vietnam in the Marine Corps, currently a bankruptcy/personal injury lawyer. Ran on the Constitution Party ticket in 2008 as VP under Chuck Baldwin.
Jim Hedges would be the oldest President, currently 78 years old. Once a township assessor in Pennsylvania, the only elected member of the Prohibition Party at the time and first since 1959.
Tom Hoefling will be 56 years old upon inauguration. He previously ran for President on the American Independent Party ticket in 2012, securing three state ballots and eleven write-in positions, picking up over 40,000 votes. He also ran for Governor of Iowa in 2014. Wrote the America’s Party platform in 2012 and is a close political ally of onetime Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes.
Gary Johnson would be 64 years old on inauguration day. He was governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003 and ran as a Republican for President in 2012 before withdrawing and securing the Libertarian nomination, receiving 1,275,951 votes or just under 1 percent. (They were on the ballot in all states but Michigan and Oklahoma, with Michigan access as a write-in.)
Evan McMullin is 40 years old, making his first run for political office. He is a former CIA counterterrorism expert and chief policy director of the House Republican Conference.
Finally, I learned that Darrell Castle opposes an Article V convention, fearing a “runaway convention.” He fears our nation will have a lower standard of living in 25 years thanks to massive debt, a declining birthrate, and foreign entanglements. Favors GMO labeling and decriminalization of marijuana, and believes states have a right to secede, but opposes the military draft and would not draft women if there were one. Given the mixed bag of miscellaneous comments and positions, I will give him another half-point. 2 points.
In his statements, Jim Hedges admitted he was from the “liberal wing” of the Prohibition Party, which allowed him to add some of their more leftist planks. He termed it as the party’s chance to survive by attracting younger voters as it has dwindled in popularity – it’s been around for nearly 150 years, but only received 518 votes nationally in 2012. So his run is as much about keeping the flame burning than winning, and they deserve to be in the process. I will be charitable and return the point I deducted before. 0 points.
One statement from Tom Hoefling can be added to this mix: that private property is a cornerstone of American liberty. I take this to mean that he is a staunch defender of private property rights, which in this age of Kelo and Agenda 21 is a good stance to have. I’ll add two remaining points for that. 3.5 points.
Gary Johnson has a commendable position on veterans that should be considered if that is your key issue. I’ll give him one extra point here. 4 points.
The same regarding veterans can be said of Evan McMullin, so he also gets one extra point. 2.5 points.
I have now considered and awarded appropriate shares of all 100 points, so I have finally reached the end of my process. The candidates will now be assessed in reverse order.
While the Prohibition Party should have a voice in the process - and could be the conscience of the conservative side of the spectrum – the fact they nominated a member of their left wing in James Hedges meant he did not do well in my system, gathering just 36 points out of 100. The only categories they did well in were immigration and social issues; otherwise the nominee was near the bottom.
Evan McMullin reminds me of a typical Republican politician, someone who thinks the system is fine with some improvements. The problem is that I feel the system is broken and we need to start repairing the damage rather than patch it up around the seams - so he only received 39 points out of 100. His best categories were energy and foreign policy, which led to my comment that he would make a solid Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense. But in most areas McMullin wrote a lot but lagged the field.
Having said that, I am rooting for him to win Utah and break up the electoral map from red and blue. Perhaps he can set a trend.
I was a little disappointed that Gary Johnson only scored 50.5 points in this system, especially since he got off to a good start by winning both the education and Second Amendment categories. He also won in trade and job creation, but finishing near the bottom in social issues and last in immigration and foreign policy did him in. However, he is setting the Libertarian Party up for future success in many states where ballot access depends on a particular percentage of the vote. They could also qualify for federal funding, although their party philosophy may make them refuse it.
Once Johnson faded from the front of the race, I came down to two major contenders – Darrell Castle and Tom Hoefling. One of them won a total of four categories worth 36 points while the other won two categories, but they were worth 27 points. Neither ever finished last in a category, and both had only one fourth place finish.
In looking over their point totals, the difference was in just a couple issues: one was far stronger in entitlements than the other, while the reverse was true in foreign policy.
Tom Hoefling is a strident anti-abortionist, but it came down to a point where I was troubled by my understanding of how he felt about it in consideration of the rule of law. Here is the phrase in question, from the platform he wrote:
(E)very officer of the judicial, legislative and executive departments, at every level and in every branch, is required to use all lawful means to protect every innocent life within their jurisdictions; and that we will henceforth deem failure to carry out this supreme sworn duty to be cause for removal from public office via impeachment or recall, or by statutory or electoral means, notwithstanding any law passed by any legislative body within the United States, or the decision of any court, or the decree of any executive officer, at any level of governance, to the contrary. (Emphasis mine.)
Above all, America is a nation of laws, with the Constitution as supreme law of the land. I understand we are given inalienable rights, with life paramount above them, but we must also render unto Caesar what is his and all of us – even the most cold-blooded abortionist – are entitled to live under the law, not the whim of a dictator. If you want to change laws, you must change hearts first because that leads to electoral allies being placed in office. This is why Hoefling only got 3 points in the category and finished with 63 points overall.
And because Darrell Castle got 7 points in the category by understanding the limitations placed on his role by the Constitution, he ended up with 67 points overall – and my vote.
So on November 8 I will walk into my Civic Center polling place and cast my ballot, writing in Darrell Castle for President. I know he won’t win the state, but my goal is twofold: I am voting my conscience, as Ted Cruz advised me to, and perhaps I am planting the seed for an alternative to the two-party system.
I’m sure most of the people I know well will be holding their nose to some degree and voting for Donald Trump. But why reward a party and nominee that has done little to advance the cause of conservative, Constitutional government and is so unpopular in the state the last poll had the GOP nominee trailing by 30 points or more? Democrats have had a field day tying the GOP nominees to Trump, almost as if they selected the Republican nominee themselves to their advantage.
So I encourage you to join me in supporting a Constitutional ticket:
After all this writing, I’m taking tomorrow off (aside from placing Marita Noon’s column) and will return with something for Wednesday.