I’ve been hearing a lot about how this isn’t the election we were hoping for. A little while back, I wrote an article about how I believe this to be true but we still have to participate. It’s our duty to do so, civic pride and all that good stuff. But the up and coming movement, now that AP and other news outlets have called the Democratic Primary for Secretary Clinton, is to find a third party candidate to back because Trump v Clinton sucks so badly. And I agree, in part. The prospects of a Trump Clinton election are pretty bleak. But, voting third party will most certainly not solve the problem.
Voting third party goes against the grain of a two party system, hence the name. There’s a reason there are only two parties. That’s where the power is. That’s where the money is, not that money and power are different. I see plenty of people on my Facebook timeline, mostly prior Bernie supporters, who are now looking to Jill Stein of the Green Party or Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party as their presidential candidate of choice. There are two main arguments I hear from these people. The first is that voting for Governor Johnson or Ms. Stein is more ideologically consistent with their own beliefs than deciding to vote for either Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump. The second is that voting for a third party in general will stand as their protest vote against the current system.
Arguing that either third party candidate is closer to your ideology is fine. It’s understandable even. With that being said, I still don’t accept it. A third party nominee will never win the presidential election in this country. A two party system is set up for two parties. No more, no less. An outside party struggles to do the simplest things a major party would have no problem getting done. So the debate here is ideology vs practicality. And maybe it makes me a bad person, but I think you have to sacrifice your ideology. The future of our country will not be determined by Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. The next four years will be molded by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. So, you can either fight that fact, which is a fight you will lose, or you can figure out which of them you’d rather have be the next President and vote accordingly.
If you argue that voting third party is your version of a silent protest, I have similar sentiments. Third parties have no power. And if you believe that Gary Johnson, who is currently polling at 12 percent, can make a difference, I encourage you to rethink that stance. Twelve percent is great for a third party candidate. And with the extremely high displeasure for the two major party candidates, it safe to assume that number will rise as we approach November. But even at a higher threshold of 20 percent, which would be right around the early 90s Ross Perot numbers, a third party candidate still has no chance of winning. Your silent protest only matters if your candidate wins. Let’s say Jill Stein gets 15 percent of the final vote. That’s something she should be proud of. But, nothing will change. She won’t win. The movement won’t pay off. The people in power will think “Oh, that’s a nice grass roots movement” and it will fade into history. Unless the candidate wins, the protest serves no purpose.
The biggest effect of this year’s third party movement won’t be who votes for the third party, but will instead be what major party is hurt the most by a “legitimate” third party. And based on who I’ve seen say they’re voting third party, and also on the candidates’ platforms themselves the Democrats stand to lose a lot more. So if you were a Bernie supporter now voting for God knows what candidate, maybe think about the consequences of your actions. Taking a good chunk of votes from Hillary Clinton will close the small gap she currently has over Donald Trump.
So make sure you balance your ideology with the consequences of sticking to it. If voting with your beliefs is so important that you’re willing to indirectly anoint Supreme Leader Trump, go for it. But, don’t complain come November because you didn’t have to foresight to see it coming.