BUSH: Amash candidacy makes me think about zebras
FROM THE EDITOR

BUSH: Amash candidacy makes me think about zebras

You can love Justin Amash or hate him, but you can no longer take him seriously.

Amash left the Republican party because of disagreements with President Donald Trump. I understand that. Amash even voted to impeach Trump.

He has stated in the past that President Trump needs to be defeated. Wednesday, he announced he is seeking the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party.

Amash says he is running to win the White House.

He won't. I don't think he could. A third-party candidate hasn't even won an electoral vote since George Wallace in 1968 - even though John Hospers received an electoral vote from a faithless elector from Virginia in 1972.

Amash isn't even a Libertarian. When he left the party that got him elected as a Congressional Representative in Michigan with the solid support of Betsy DeVos and her family, he didn't join the Libertarian Party - he went Independent. Now, he wants to be the Libertarian candidate. He hasn't had an epiphany, at least not in his policy positions. His epiphany was that Libertarians have ballot access.

The only other possible conclusion is that Amash spent his time in quarantine watching Tiger King like everyone else in America and wanted to catch a ride on the Joe Exotic publicity machine. Side note, Joe Exotic ran for President and Governor of Oklahoma as a Libertarian for the same reasons that Amash is. If that isn't enough to disqualify him, I don't know what it will take.

Some people use the basic logic that Amash is more conservative than Joe Biden, so he will hurt Trump's re-election bid.

Maybe.

Some political scientists point to exit polls and say that Ross Perot took more votes from Bill Clinton than George H.W. Bush. Exit polls have a natural bias that comes from people wanting to say what they think they should say to an in-person interviewer.

Amash claims he wants to beat Trump, but does his candidacy help accomplish that?

Will Trump supporters leave for Amash? I doubt it. But will conservatives who don't like Trump vote for him instead of Biden? Of course. In a state like Michigan - Amash's best bet to win votes - he could pull enough votes away from Biden to keep him from winning an important swing state.

There is no empirical evidence to determine which side Amash would hurt the most. Duverger's Law is clear that winner-take-all elections favor - and can help create - a two-party system. Because of the American system of choosing electoral winners, anyone in the race other than the two main parties makes the system less efficient.

Third-party candidates can't win outside of a very specific set of circumstances, but they have a huge effect on the election because of the impact they have on the two main candidates.

There is plenty of evidence that Amash could never win. He can't even win an electoral vote. He probably won't even win the Libertarian nomination.

After all, Libertarians might want to nominate an actual Libertarian. A friend of mine - who beat Joe Exotic in Oklahoma - confirmed that Libertarians don't, in fact, like being the fall back party for unsuccessful Republicans.

"I like Amash," Chris Powell said. "But it really rankles that last summer he chose Independent and only now when he wants something is he willing to officially sign on with us."

I'm not a conspiracy theorist. Even when they make sense, I am more of an Occam's Razor guy - the simplest answer is almost always right. If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras - unless you're in a zoo. Then, maybe it's a hippo.

You should really be able to tell the difference between a zebra and a hippo. If you can't, you might think that voting for Justin Amash makes sense. Fun fact: It does not.

If you want Donald Trump to stay in the White House four more years, head down to the Trump store and buy some signs. If you want anyone but Trump to win, voting for anyone other than Biden is silly.

No matter how many candidates there are, only two will ever count. If you don't vote for Biden, you are voting for Trump. Amash could have run as a Republican, but he knew he had no chance.

Why would he have a chance as a member of a third party? The answer to that question is he obviously won't. Trying to figure out why he is really running is the kind of thing that makes me think zebra when I hear hoofbeats.

Kent Bush is the editor of the Rapid City Journal.

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