Let’s dispel with this fiction that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein know what they’re doing. They have no idea what they’re doing.
The “main story” of Sunday’s Last Week Tonight concerned the aforementioned third-party candidates who, national TV gaffes aside, are commanding a sizable amount of the vote in the upcoming U.S. election—thanks to the terribly low likability ratings of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—even though they haven’t been properly vetted.
So, host John Oliver did just that.
“Americans are so disillusioned by the major-party candidates it seems many would prefer to vote for Kevin Kline’s character from the movie Dave or the ghost of Martin Luther King, Jr.—assuming he only said the three quotes that white people like,” joked Oliver.He added, “This disenchantment may explain the high interest in America’s third parties, because when your two main options are depressing, any third choice seems good. If you’re in a KFC/Taco Bell and you see a bunch of pigeons eating something in the parking lot, you might well think, ‘Hang on—what have they got over there?’’ [Editor’s Note: Taco Bell is delicious.]
Which brings us to the “best-known of the lesser-known” candidates: Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. In a poll last month, over a third of young voters ages 18-29 said they’re considering voting for a third-party candidate. And sure, while Ralph Nader’s Florida votes probably tipped the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush, as Oliver said, “Just dismissing third-party candidates as spoilers shuts down debate,” which is bad for democracy.First came Jill Stein, who’s polling at around 2 percent nationally and whose “flagship proposal”—her Trump wall, so to speak—is to cancel the $1.3 trillion in student debt. She “plans” to do this through quantitative easing, which she’s described as a “magic trick” that will allow for up to $4 trillion in “free money.”“No it isn’t, though!” exclaimed Oliver. “It is a very complicated monetary policy tool, and while it might not be important for most people to understand it, you certainly have to. And I don’t think you do.”In case you missed it, Stein claimed in a Reddit Ask Me Anything that, “The president then has the authority to cancel the student debt using quantitative easing,” but as Oliver noted, “That is absolutely wrong! The president does not have that authority, only the Federal Reserve does—and it does not take marching orders from the White House because that would be extremely dangerous. You don’t want to give presidents the power to just create new money whenever they want it.”And when it comes to Stein, “for a candidate who seems to be running on principle, it can be hard to pin her down on what those principles are.”Stein declared the Brexit referendum vote a “victory” online before stating the opposite. She also sought to correct her past anti-vaccine stance by tweeting, “There’s no evidence that autism is caused by vaccines,” before changing her message to, “I’m not aware of evidence linking autism with vaccines.” This “strategic vagueness,” as Oliver put it, even applied to a question she fielded during the Green Party town-hall from a 9/11 truther. Instead of rejecting the man’s insane theory that it was a controlled demolition, Stein replied, “It’s time to get the full story!”
“You can’t just hear a conspiracy theory, fan the flames, and walk away,” said Oliver. Oh, and she was also in a truly godawful alternative music group called Somebody’s Sister.
As for Gary Johnson: “He has been polling around 6 percent nationally—which is pretty remarkable, given that his race has been largely notable for moments like not knowing what Aleppo is, not being able to name a world leader he admires, and whatever it is he’s doing here,” said Oliver, before cutting to the notorious clip of Johnson speaking with his tongue in his mouth to an MSNBC reporter.
Of course, if you dig a little deeper on Johnson’s actual policy positions, you’ll learn that he not only opposes minimum wage and combating climate change, but also wants to eliminate the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development—all of which do a heck of a lot of work for lower-class Americans, in particular—while offering no substitutes.
Oh, and he also wishes to eliminate the federal income tax and the IRS, and then impose a federal consumption tax of 28 percent on everything. Tax-policy analysts have already debunked this plan as completely ludicrous—and one that would not only weigh heavily on lower- and middle-class American families, but also likely increase income inequality.
“The more you look at Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, the more you realize the lack of coverage they complain about so much might have genuinely benefitted them,” said Oliver, “because their key proposals crumble under the slightest amount of scrutiny.”