The Corner

Debate Time Next Fall: An Imagining

A lot of us — maybe not enough to win elections, but a good number of us — would like a third option on the fall ballot. An honorable conservative, someone we can vote for with appreciation.

Maybe Mitt Romney will feel a patriotic call? Maybe Ben Sasse will dramatically resign his Senate seat, bid farewell to the Nebraska GOP, which has effectively disowned him, and offer himself for president?

How about Romney-Martinez?

Anyway, I can imagine a fall debate, in which this honorable third candidate participates. He, or she, might say something like this:

The two major parties have offered you Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. That’s not good enough. That’s not good enough for America. Moreover, these two are birds of a feather.

Each has a long record of corruption. In fact, their records intertwine. Trump is Mrs. Clinton’s donor; and Mrs. Clinton is his donee. They have been part of political cronyism for decades.

Each of them lies as easily as most people breathe. We have lived with Mrs. Clinton’s lying since 1992, at least. How many tales has she told about her e-mail arrangement? She can’t even keep them straight.

There’s an old saying: “I cannot tell a lie, because I don’t have a good enough memory.”

As for Trump, he posed as his own spokesman. Then he acknowledged he did it. Then, forgetting he had acknowledged it already, he denied it. Also, how much money has he contributed to veterans? Does anyone know? And did Ted Cruz’s dad really have a role in the Kennedy assassination?

Trump is a man who thinks that Putin does not kill people — but that Pastor Cruz offed Kennedy and the Clintons killed Foster.

Neither Trump nor Hillary has a clue about limited government. Or the separation of powers. Or the Anglo-American political tradition, the very expression of liberal democracy. Trump issues threats to publications that dare criticize him. His admiration of Putin makes sense — and ought to alarm any believer in democracy.

Trump thinks that judges “sign” “bills.” Do you have school-age children? Have they ever taken civics? Could they inform the Republican nominee of the basics?

Neither the Republican nor the Democrat is willing to reform our runaway entitlements. They say that reform lacks compassion. I’ll tell you what lacks compassion: economic collapse. Have you noticed the Greek economy? That is not kindness.

Neither of them has a clue about trade. Actually, Mrs. Clinton may, in fact, know about trade, but she is too beholden to the socialist Left to tell the truth about it. Trump is just plain ignorant. Or just plain a demagogue. He would send this country back to the economic dark ages, all the while making nationalist noise.

On health care, too, the candidates are alike. Before we were saddled with ObamaCare, we were threatened with HillaryCare. She would entrench and probably worsen ObamaCare. Trump says that, if you favor conservative reform, you don’t have a “heart.” The Left has said that about us for years. Funny to hear it coming from the Republican nominee. Trump says that he’s “going to take care of everybody.” Socialists of red and black stripes have been promising that since forever.

Watch your wallet. And your health.

Neither of these candidates understands the importance of American leadership in the world. Neither one understands what makes America free and prosperous, and what is required to maintain and enhance our freedom and prosperity.

Mrs. Clinton would ratify Obama’s Iran deal. About Trump, who knows? If the mullahs flattered him, à la Putin, he could be kissing their backsides, robed or not. And Trump undoubtedly scares our allies more than he does our enemies.

In fact, Trump and I probably couldn’t agree on who our allies and enemies are.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sing the praises of Planned Parenthood — those disgusting traffickers in baby parts, who ought to be prosecuted, not praised.

I could go on. America can do better than Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump. We owe it to our forefathers and to Americans of the future.

Each of these candidates has a ferocious will to power. And, of course, ferociously loyal followings. Cults of personality, really. But our allegiance should be to the rule of law. The American Constitution. This experiment in liberal democracy, which began almost 250 years ago and whose outcome is still in doubt.

“A republic, if you can keep it,” said Franklin. Can we? Will we?

Look, I don’t know if a third candidate — an honorable conservative — could get very far. A candidate who damned the major-party nominees, and offered a third way, so to speak. The country seems in an extreme and nutty mood. But I would like to see such a candidacy tested. This has been a strange, not to say freakish, political year. Anything might happen.

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