Yesterday the Republican and Democratic candidates had their first presidential debate. While I didn’t watch the debate I’m assuming it was a publicly broadcasted circle jerk where both candidates refused to say anything truly critical of the other while pretending some iota of difference exists between them (I feel this assumption is safe based on previous presidential debates and both candidates’ voting records). This is the problem with presidential debates, they’re predictable and boring. Many people are being quick to point out that these debates could be made much more interesting if third party candidates were allowed to participate. Unfortunately those candidates aren’t allowed to participate in the debates unless they reach 15% in a series of polls (and if they do manage to get close the Commission of Presidential Debates will surely raise the required percentage).
One of the more notable movements regarding third party candidates are Gary Johnson’s supporters. They’ve been demanding Johnson be allowed to participate in the debates, going so far as to support the lawsuit brought against the commission by Johnson’s campaign. Johnson’s supporters believe that participation in these debates will allow Johnson to win the presidential election (or, at least, help the Libertarian Party achieve victory in a future election). This raises an interesting question, what would happen if Johnson won the election?
In our system of checks and balances Johnson’s victory would be entirely symbolic. Yes we would have a third party president but we would still have a Congress controlled by the Republicans and Democrats. As it currently stands the system of checks and balances doesn’t check or balance anything. Congress isn’t motivated to control the president and the president isn’t motivated to control Congress. The Supreme Court, which is composed of judges appointed by members of the two major parties, has been more than happy to further the statist agenda through its rulings. Our state is one big happy family. Each of the branches helps out the others because they’re controlled by the same people.
Johnson’s victory would throw a monkey wrench into the current state circle jerk. While that in of itself sounds hilarious it would effectively change nothing. Once the circle jerk is broken you can guarantee that the legislative and judicial branches of the state will use every check and balance at their disposal to control Johnson. Congress will suddenly question executive orders, challenge Supreme Court nominations, and probably go so far as to actually declare wars to prevent Johnson from brining the troops home (then they would probably move to impeach him if he still ordered the troops to return, claiming he is derelict in his duties as command-in-chief). You can also guarantee that Congress will call for impeachment hearings the second Johnson sliped up in any way.
Although people are often quick to point out the checks and balances supposedly designed into our federal government as a tool against tyranny they seem to be oblivious of the fact that such tools aren’t effective if they’re all controlled by the same statists. Checks and balances only work if each involved entity actually desires to control the other involved entities. If the legislative branch wants to control the executive branch they can but if they don’t want to the executive branch remains free to do whatever it please. The Republicans and Democrats have developed an understanding with one another. Neither party will throw up any actual resistance against the other so long as the favor is returned. The second a third party gets into a position of power both major parties will work together to check and balance that outsider into ineffectiveness.