If you were to go tell someone at this moment that you were voting for a third-party candidate in the upcoming presidential election, most people would give you a dumb look which would be followed by a couple of different responses. Some would say that you are throwing your vote away by doing that while others would say that you just shouldn’t vote since it wouldn’t count anyway. The most audacious response is that you are taking away a vote from one of the main candidates… the democrat or republican and that’s why you are voting for that person and even why that third-party candidate is even running.
But let me ask it this way. How is it throwing your vote away by voting for the candidate you want to win? We will use our current election and candidates for examples. So we have Obama (Democrat), Romney (Republican), Johnson (Libertarian), and Stein (Green). According to a recent CNN poll that actually included the two main third-party candidates (most polls only give the two main choices), Johnson is getting 4% of the vote with Stein getting 2%. When looking at the numbers with and without the third-party candidates listed, it would seem that Johnson is getting votes off Romney and Stein is getting them off Obama. But that’s just going by the numbers and not the people behind them, and I’m not about to delve into that data on that. So don’t worry.
For our example, we have a 1 in 4 chance of picking the winner. So you have a better chance of picking the losing side. So if you are basing the claim that voting for a third-party candidate is throwing away a vote because that person can’t win, then shouldn’t your vote be automatically switching to whoever is in the lead? Otherwise, you are throwing away your vote for the candidate that is trailing. There is a flaw in that overall thinking. Besides, wouldn’t it be throwing away a vote if I was voting for Obama because I didn’t want Romney to win (or vice versa)? Maybe the person voting for the third party doesn’t want either main party candidate to win.
Third-party candidates tend to be more toward the center. I’m not saying all of them are, but the major ones tend to be. While the two main parties (Democrats and Republicans) continue to move away from each other, it’s leaving a vast void in the center where many voters are. In that void, we can plug in both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. Already, more than 1/3rd of Americans are wanting a major third party. The Democrats and Republicans seem to be more polarized and more focused on making the other side lose the next election rather than coming up with sensible solutions to the major issues. Why has this become even worse in that past few years? Because the moderates of both parties are either being voted out or they are choosing to get out because of how bad it is. At a time when we need them even more than ever, they are jumping ship. The moderates were usually the ones that kept the extremists in each party in check. They usually worked across the aisle to get things done.
We, the voters, have been brainwashed from the beginning to think that there are only two political parties worth considering. The only thing that the two main parties can agree on is that they don’t want a viable third-party to be included, and they go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen. Even now, the Romney campaign is attempting to keep Johnson off the ballot in several states. The Johnson campaign is fighting these attempts, but it is costing them money that they can’t replace as easily as the Romney campaign can. Political parties were never envisioned as part of our political sphere when our Founding Fathers set everything up, but they developed as a result of different ways of thinking (i.e. strong central government vs. states rights). Over time, these would develop into the Democratic and Republican parties. There have been others throughout our history… including the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party which ran Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. And here’s your shocker. That third-party candidate (Roosevelt), actually came in second place… beating out incumbent Republican President William Howard Taft. The Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, won the election. The Progressive Party would eventually fold back into the Republican Party within a few years though. In more recent times, Ross Perot in 1992 received 18.9% of the vote. Some say he cost George H. W. Bush reelection, but that’s assuming that all the votes that Perot received would have gone to Bush had Perot not been running, and we can’t assume that. Same as we can’t assume that Ralph Nader tipped the balance in 2000 for George W. Bush by taking away votes from Al Gore in Florida. Our mentality is set to assume that since it makes up the difference, then those votes must have gone there. How many times have you heard that a certain third-party candidate is running just so the Democrat or Republican loses? These are usually partisan voters who can’t see beyond their own candidate to realize that this is someone running to oppose both main candidates with different ideas.
For the first time this year, the Green Party is receiving matching funds. This means they are getting money from the government that the Democratic and Republican parties are already entitled to each election. If the Democratic and Republican parties were only allowed to use their matching funds and nothing else, then this would put them on a level playing field, but the two main parties won’t be doing that. To even be included in the debates, the parties must poll at least 5% in several polls. Here’s the catch, most media outlets don’t even include them in the polls to begin with. So the dumb question of the day is how are these parties supposed to achieve 5% in the polls if they aren’t even included. The CNN Poll that I listed earlier was the first one I’ve seen that has actually done so. The Democrats and Republicans have rigged the system so that you only think there are two candidates until you get into the voting booth, by which time you’ve usually made up your mind.
If we absolutely must choose between two parties, then why not pick the Libertarian or Green parties? It’s never been said which two parties we have to choose between. In most democracies, there are more than two parties. We are the rare one that only has two. Any less, we’d practically be a dictatorship. It’s time Americans realize that there are more than two parties out there and that you might be voting for the wrong one. We keep complaining about how things are done in Washington, but we keep switching back and forth between the two parties that are creating the problems. The pendulum just swings back and forth. Maybe it’s time we throw a kink into it and make it go a third way… or at least stop in the middle somewhere. I encourage all voters to make sure that they are voting for the candidate that best matches where they stand on the issues. Don’t assume that you do. Do the research. If you are just willing to continue to vote for the same two political parties (despite where you might stand on issues) because they are the only two serious contenders, then you have only yourself to blame for the continued problems and the slow pace at which we attempt to solve them.
Does it mean that a third-party candidate will win in November? Probably not, though anything is possible in politics. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen down the road. We must make a stand somewhere at some point, and with the way things are going, why not let it be now. Major third-part candidates such as the Libertarian and Green parties should be included in any national election poll, and they should be included in the debates. The American people have the right to hear what these candidates have to say. The media outlets also need to step up and start including them in interviews and political segments. It’s time the mentality regarding these third parties changes. They should be serious contenders. Throwing away a vote? That only applies if you are voting by determining the lesser of two evils. How do you know you aren’t voting for the better of two liars? Third-party voting isn’t throwing a vote, it’s making a loud and clear statement that no longer will we be subject to the duocracy that has crippled our government and our politics.
For the sake of this entry, major third-parties were any third-party that has access to at leas 270-Electoral votes.
Election 2012 (Indeclaration)