The Chicago Tribune endorsed Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson on Friday as a “principled option” beyond the typical red-blue binary.
The conservative paper’s editorial board argued that the Democratic and Republican parties have drifted so far from the United States’ political mainstream and failed to nominate suitable candidates to the top of their tickets.
The paper’s editorial is as much an indictment of Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump as it is an endorsement of former New Mexico Gov. Johnson.
“We reject the cliché that a citizen who chooses a principled third-party candidate is squandering his or her vote. Look at the number of fed-up Americans telling pollsters they clamor for alternatives to Trump and Clinton,” the board wrote.
This recommendation follows a growing trend among right-leaning or moderate newspapers — which don’t like Trump but generally cannot bring themselves to support Clinton — to urge their readers to vote for Johnson.
Clinton has by far scooped up the most newspaper endorsements, including from the New York Daily News, the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Berkshire Eagle, the Los Angeles Times, the Akron Beacon Journal, the New York Times, the Portland Press Herald, the Baltimore Sun and the Sun Sentinel.
Several normally conservative papers — including the Dallas Morning News, the Arizona Republic and the Cincinnati Enquirer — recently endorsed Clinton, even though they had backed Republican presidential candidates for decades. The Enquirer had endorsed Republicans for nearly a century.
Similarly, the editorial board for USA Today bucked its 34-year history of having never taken sides in a presidential race by coming out against Trump on Thursday — calling the billionaire businessman “unfit for the presidency.”
Like clockwork, Trump took to Twitter to compliment people who canceled their subscriptions to the Dallas Morning News and the Arizona Republic over their endorsements and gloated over the possibility of USA Today’s losing readers.
The people are really smart in cancelling subscriptions to the Dallas & Arizona papers & now USA Today will lose readers! The people get it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016
A Yahoo News review could find no major newspaper that has endorsed Trump for president in the general election. A handful of publications, including the New York Post, National Enquirer and New York Observer, backed the mogul in the GOP primary. (The Observer is owned by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is also a top campaign adviser.)
In its Johnson endorsement, the Tribune acknowledged the genuine gripes that electrify Trump supporters — economic forces beyond their control, ineffective career politicians, mocking from elitists, etc. — but insisted that electing a “bombastic and self-aggrandizing” man who lacks the character or prudence for the job is not the cure.
And though the board members admitted that Clinton is “undeniably capable” of running the country and would break down a gender barrier that should not exist, they still doubted her honesty and fear an “ever-expanding government” of federal spending and taxation that contradict their fiscally conservative values.
“With that demand for a principled president paramount, we turn to the candidate we can recommend,” the board wrote. “One party has two moderate Republicans — veteran governors who successfully led Democratic states — atop its ticket. Libertarians Gary Johnson of New Mexico and running mate William Weld of Massachusetts are agile, practical and, unlike the major-party candidates, experienced at managing governments.”
The endorsements for Johnson come at a useful time in his campaign, which has been tripped up by recent gaffes. During a television interview earlier this week, he painfully struggled to think of a foreign leader he admires. And in another TV interview earlier this month, he revealed he was ignorant of Aleppo, the city at the epicenter of the Syrian refugee crisis.