Suppose we had a law that said there could be only one write-in candidate in addition to the two party candidates who would run for President in November and that the only requirement to vote for the write-in candidate was just to write his or her name in the space provided on the ballot.
I presume the press would figure out that they should cover, rather than boycott, that single write-in candidate especially if that candidate was obviously qualified to serve as President. This would particularly be the case if the majority of the voters weren’t happy about the two candidates chosen by the parties.
This is effectively the case we’re in. But the press, led by the Washington Post and New York Times is engaged in just such a boycott.
In this election we have two third parties, the Libertarians and the Green Party, whose extreme views aren’t resonating with the public. And we have one self-declared “Not Trump” Republican candidate, Evan McMullin, who entered too late to make the ballot or even register as a write-in candidate in many of the major states in the country.
And we have one — just one — write-in candidate (see www.kotlikoff2016.com) who is legally able to win this election. The reason is that only registered write-in candidates have their votes counted and I’m the only nationally registered write-in candidate. Stated differently, I’m the only write-in candidate who has registered clear across the country. (By the way, I’m on the ballot in Louisiana and Colorado, which just means my name will be printed by a machine in advance of election day rather than written by a person on election day).
Some of the press — about 30 top national and international media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, have covered my candidacy. But many other leading outlets, like the Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, the New Yorker, and Vanity Fair, have chosen to boycott my candidacy.
As an example, I contacted the Washington Post’s political reporter, David Weigel, and asked him to write about my candidacy. His one line reply was my candidacy “doesn’t rise to the level of the Washington Post.” Frankly, I’m not sure David Weigel rises to the level of the Washington Post.
Let me explain why the Press’ reaction to write-in candidates represents a rigging of our election process and why it’s antithetical to fixing our democracy and getting money out of politics, let alone electing someone who will actually fix the country.
First, the write-in option is the only way we are ever going to break the two parties’ stranglehold over our democracy. The two parties have made it extremely difficult and incredibly expensive (at least $50 million) to form a formal third party and get on the ballot. In contrast, becoming a registered write-in candidate can be accomplished with a volunteer campaign staff and a limited amount of money. I know this because I’ve done it over the past five months.
Second, only 14 percent of the voters have selected Clinton and Trump (the 14 percent who chose Clinton aren’t those that chose Trump). Consequently, we are being force fed two candidates that most of us haven’t chosen.
Third, voting for a write-in registered candidate requires only writing nine words on our ballots in the spaces provides. Does David Weigel believe the American pubic is incapable of writing, in our case, these nine words — Laurence Kotlikoff for President and Edward Leamer for Vice President. (Ed, one of our country’s top economists, is at UCLA.) So it’s actually amazingly easy to elect registered write-in candidates as President and Vice President. Does Weigel think the public can’t write or that it can’t spell or that it is too stupid to remember two names?
Fourth, the Press is not just reporting the news. It’s making the news. If reporters like David Weigel and columnists like Tom Friedman, David Brooks, Nicholas Kristof, and Maureen Dowd, were doing their jobs and explaining on a routine basis to the public that there is a highly qualified alternative to Trump and Clinton and it just takes writing his name to elect him, I would, I believe, now be at the top of the polls.
Hence, when Weigel tells me that my candidacy is not “news worthy” he’s ignoring the Press’ influence on that measure. Now were I neither registered nationwide nor someone with no qualifications to be President, I’d certainly agree with Weigel’s view that I’m just another Mickey Mouse who deserves no consideration. But in my case, I’m a professor of economics at Boston University, one of our nation’s leading research universities, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the 25 world’s most influential economists, according to The Economist Magazine, a NY Times Best Selling author as well as someone who has worked on the whole range of public policy issues, indeed written entire books on fixing public policy problems.
I’ve also lived overseas, worked at our Council of Economic Advisors, worked for the Bank of England, worked for the Federal Reserve, worked with the Office of Management and Budget, consulted for the IMF and the World Bank, worked directly with the Presidents of Chile and Bolivia, testified to Congress on numerous occasions, met with U.S. Treasury secretaries, and consulted with finance ministers, economic ministers, prime ministers, the head of our Federal Reserve, and heads of numerous foreign centrals banks.
I’m laying out my background to make the case that David Weigel and the rest of the press that is ignoring or dismissing my candidacy is doing a major disservice not just to me and the public. They are also undermining all future write-in candidates who are better qualified to serve as President than the candidates served up by what is generally the extreme tails of the two parties.
Fifth, if I were someone with a lot of money, but no clear qualifications for being President, i.e., someone like Herman Cain who ran in 2012, David Weigel, George Will, Kathleen Parker, and other members of the Fourth Estate would be paying plenty of attention. They are, in effect, making money — lots of money — the criterion for running for President. Yet they are also bemoaning money in politics.
You can’t have it both ways. Eldridge Clever, the civil rights activist, said, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” The press today is part of the problem. Indeed, at this point, with five weeks left in the election, the press is not just part of the problem. The press is the problem.
And, again, the problem is not just this year. In the long term, unless the Frank Bruni’s, the Gail Collin’s, the Roger Cohen’s and all of our nation’s other political writers start doing their jobs when it comes to registered write-in candidates, namely identifying when there are one or more qualified and registered write-in candidates and reporting on their positions and qualifications, we will end up with what we’re now getting — no-nothing and do-nothing candidates. In this case, politics as usual will never change and our country will continue its relentless descent to third-world status.