The Republican blowback from Donald Trump's ascension to presumed GOP presidential nominee continued Thursday as Sen. Ben Sasse asked a third-party candidate to emerge because both Trump and Hillary Clinton are "terrible options."
"With Clinton and Trump, the fix is in. Heads, they win; tails, you lose. Why are we confined to these two terrible options? This is America. If both choices stink, we reject them and go bigger," Sasse, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, wrote in an emotional post on Facebook.
In what he called "An Open Letter to Majority America, the Nebraska Republican, writes:
"If you are one of those rare souls who genuinely believe Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are honorable people — if they are the role models you want for your kids — then this letter is not for you.
"Instead, this letter is for the majority of Americans who wonder why the nation that put a man on the moon can't find a healthy leader who can take us forward together."
Sasse says since Trump's Indiana victory, which led to both Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropping out of the race, his voicemail is "overflowing with party bosses and politicos telling me that 'although Trump is terrible,' we 'have to' support him, 'because the only choice is Trump or Hillary."'
"WHY is that the only choice?" he asks.
Sasse says he visited his local Wal-Mart store on Wednesday and listened the conversations of customers talking about the state of the presidential race.
Among the concerns, he said, is that "Washington isn't fooling anyone. Neither political party works. They bicker like children about tiny things, and yet they can't even identify the biggest issues we face. They're like a couple arguing about what color to paint the living room, and meanwhile, their house is on fire."
"As a result, normal Americans don't like either party. If you ask Americans if they identify as Democrat or Republican, almost half of the nation interrupts to say: "Neither," Sasse writes.
Additionally, "young people despise the two parties even more than the general electorate. And why shouldn't they? The main thing that unites most Democrats is being anti-Republican; the main thing that unites most Republicans is being anti-Democrat.
"No one knows what either party is for — but almost everyone knows neither party has any solutions for our problems. 'Unproductive' doesn't begin to summarize how messed up this is."
Sasse says Washington has not "passed along the meaning of America to the next generation."
"If we don't get them to re-engage — thinking about how we defend a free society in the face of global jihadis, or how we balance our budgets after baby boomers have dishonestly over-promised for decades, or how we protect First Amendment values in the face of the safe-space movement — then all will indeed have been lost," Saase writes.
"One of the bright spots with the rising generation, though, is that they really would like to rethink the often knee-jerk partisanship of their parents and grandparents. We should encourage this rethinking."
Sasse believes the Republican and Democratic parties are in "enough of a mess that I believe they will come apart.
"It might not happen fully in 2016 — and I'll continue fighting to revive the GOP with ideas — but when people's needs aren't being met, they ultimately find other solutions."
Sasse then went after Trump and Clinton, calling them "two most unpopular candidates ever."
"Hillary by a little, and Trump by miles (including now 3 out of 4 women — who vote more and influence more votes than men). There are dumpster fires in my town more popular than these two 'leaders,'" he says.
"Remember: our Founders didn't want entrenched political parties. So why should we accept this terrible choice?"
Sasse recommends the nation draft "an honest leader" who will "focus on 70 percent solutions for the next four years? You know . . . an adult?"
"Such a leader should be able to campaign 24/7 for the next six months. Therefore he/she likely can't be an engaged parent with little kids," he says.
"Although I'm one of the most conservative members of the Senate, I'm not interested in an ideological purity test, because even a genuine consensus candidate would almost certainly be more conservative than either of the two dishonest liberals now leading the two national parties."
Sasse said Americans should imagine a candidate, who:
- Hadn't spent his/her life in politics either buying politicians or being bought
- Didn't want to stitch together a coalition based on anger but wanted to take a whole nation forward
- Pledged to serve for only one term, as a care-taker problem-solver for this messy moment
- Knew that Washington isn't competent to micromanage the lives of free people, but instead wanted to SERVE by focusing on 3 or 4 big national problems
Needing to be zeroed in on, Sasse says, are "a national security strategy for the age of cyber and jihad; honest budgeting/entitlement reform so that we stop stealing from future generations; empowering states and local governments to improve K-12 education."
Sasse says he took his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.
"In brief, that means I'm for limited government. And there is no reason to believe that either of these two national front-runners believe in limiting anything about DC's power," he writes.
"I believe that most Americans can still be for limited government again — if they were given a winsome candidate who wanted Washington to focus on a small number of really important, urgent things — in a way that tried to bring people together instead of driving us apart.
"I think there is room — an appetite — for such a candidate. What am I missing? More importantly, what are the people at the Fremont Wal-Mart missing? Because I don't think they are wrong."
He says Americans, like his neighbors at Wal-Mart, deserve better.
"They deserve a Congress that tackles the biggest policy problems facing the nation," Sasse writes.
"And they deserve a president who knows that his or her job is not to 'reign,' but to serve as commander-in-chief and to 'faithfully execute' the laws — not to claim imperial powers to rewrite them with his pen and phone."
Reaction to Sasse's pitch was mixed — and non-partisan.
One responder on Facebook, Lacey McPhail, wrote that she experienced "that awkward moment when you agree 99 percent with Sen. Ben Sasse whom you hated just 2 years ago ... I am a very liberal Democrat and I agree and totally support you, Ben. You know when things are not right and speak out even if it gets you hate from DC."
Another, Corie Stephens, wrote, "Thank you. As an early Tea Party organizer, I believe you're fulfilling the true legacy of our movement. Don't sell out."
But Facebook poster Daniel Bostic responded: "Really Senator?? Tell us more about how bad it all is! My only question is . . . WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? We HAD good candidates up against Trump and yet all you did was sit on the sidelines and complain about him while the rest of us were out there actually working to try and stop Donald."
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