A third-party vote is NOT a throwaway vote

The following post actually started out as a Facebook comment reply, but was deemed to verbose to allow me to submit it. Below is my attempt to convert my sentiments into blog format.

As we head into the final weeks of Election 2016, voters are confronted with the two most unlikable nominees in at least 100 years, if not ever. The situation has some considering voting third-party come November. While third-party votes do take place every election cycle, they are often disregarded among the general populace and media, and especially by the two main party candidates. However, with things as they stand now, third-party candidates are getting enough attention that even the current President is urging people not to vote third-party, and his party’s campaign is bringing out a former nominee to try to convince these same people that he lost because of them. And, in contrast to Obama’s suggestion that a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Trump, I’ve had Trump supporters tell me that a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Hillary.

I would like to take the time to politely say that that’s all hogwash.

A vote is only ever a “throwaway” vote if you cast it for someone for whom you do not actually support. Your vote is your own and nobody else’s. You do not owe it to any party as a means of preventing the other party from succeeding. In fact, this merely enforces the two-party system virtually in perpetuity. Literally, “the lesser of two evils” is how we got into the current situation; each party, individually, nominated its least popular candidate for the general election, banking on the sole notion that party loyalty/unity would overcome the objectionable candidate of that party.

Now, more than ever before, would be the time to show that they don’t own your vote by default. Hold them accountable by actually casting your vote for someone you can be proud of, regardless of a perceived potential outcome.

Scare Tactics

Allow me to veer into a tangent that I promise relates back to the overall topic at hand, for reasons I will explain momentarily: one thing each major party of course does in elections is use fear tactics to scare you into voting for them instead of their opposition. I have witnessed countless Democratic campaigns that will use what I call boogeyman tactics regarding social issues. Are Democrats more liberal on social issues than Republicans? Absolutely. 100%, without question. But Democrats tend to go so over the top, they paint this picture that a Republican would undo all progress made during the past decade. They often make it seem that a Republican will nominate Supreme Court justices that will reverse Roe v. Wade, somehow deny gay rights, or strike down Obamacare outright. None of these things are likely to actually take place regardless of the outcome (and yet they are used even at the state level elections).

In my lifetime — between Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W Bush — Roe v Wade still stands, held up in 1992 in Casey v Planned Parenthood, where THREE of the justices in the majority were appointed by Republicans. This year’s revisit of the same topic? A Republican-appointed justice again in the majority. Obamacare’s legal challenge in 2012? Upheld by Justice Roberts, who was appointed by GW Bush. Even gay marriage was made legal with a Republican-appointed justice in the majority. So these scare tactics largely do not actually come to fruition.

Republicans also use scare tactics, but I usually see it in terms of economics (ie Democrats spending/taxing more than Republicans would like) or international affairs, with them often being called “warhawks,” but I’ve also heard that same term apply to Hillary if elected, too.

Why do I mention this? Because I believe it plays a role in the fear, concern, or worry that, if you do not vote for one of the top two candidates, you would potentially be responsible for a the other candidate’s presidency, and there are things about their potential administration that concern you.

 

Addressing the Concerns

The Liberal/Progressive Case for Third-Party Voting

So let’s address each then! If you are liberal/progressive/Democrat/etc, it is likely that your concern is that, by voting third-party, your one vote may be responsible for the election of Donald Trump. Before I explore this concern, I’d like to state two things: 1) at the time of this writing, FiveThirtyEight has Hillary at an 86.4% chance of winning the election at the time of this writing, so it is very, very likely that she will win, regardless of your vote. Secondly, I’d like to of course stipulate that I am not defending Trump here in what I am about to say, but merely hoping to allay some of your concerns that have possibly been mulled about in your head as a result of this election season.

Has Trump said a veritable litany of stupid and abhorrent things in this campaign? Absolutely. I presume there will be a “highlight reel” of sorts as the focal point of the Clinton campaign. But what’s interesting and pissed off a lot of conservatives is that Trump was saying the opposite things just a year (if not months) before he decided to run as a Republican. You can take any single issue for which Trump has said his (current) position and find audio or video of him saying the exact opposite. I bring this up because, despite the boogeyman tactics that will be employed against him — for all the actual conservatism that we saw in Reagan/Bush/GW Bush, and for how little it did to prohibit progressive causes as outlined above, such boogeyman tactics should fall short in consideration of Trump, as he is far more likely to be moderate (or even liberal) in office than the proprietors of boogeyman tactics would have you believe he would act. In fact, this is part of the criticism of conservatives that have not embraced him (myself included).

Another point to note is that, when Trump most often sounds professional and not-an-asshole, he is reading from a script. I didn’t watch the Republican National Convention, but I read his speech, and it wasn’t bad from a professional standpoint. Granted, he may have Trump’d his delivery of it for all I know, but the bottom line I got from reading it is that someone wrote it for him. You can tell, because there’s plenty of times where he is off-script or caught unawares and says something that makes you roll your eyes (and probably his campaign team). But, when he is managed, it’s better. I mention this because, if he is elected President, he will be surrounded by advisers. I very much doubt he will make a single decision without running it by people because, a man of his ego, he’s going to want to have an actual legacy if he actually wins.

He’s also always talked in his business world about proposing something far greater than you intend to acquire so that, when you bargain and inevitably end up with less, it’s actually what you really wanted. This is Trump’s play in his rhetoric. He doesn’t actually expect to build a wall or ban Muslims and so forth. Sure, that rhetoric brings in the hardcore to his side but, if elected, his actual desires are far lower than that; it’s part of how he deals. Again, I’m not excusing his policy rhetoric. I’m merely saying it’s highly unlikely to actually take place. We’ve already heard him back off of things when pressed on it.

Again, it’s highly unlikely he will win anyway, so you should not have much worry that your vote going to a non-Hillary candidate means Trump takes office because of it. In addition to the 86.4% chance of Hillary winning this election, it’s also worth noting that Clinton leads among women by (an unprecedented) 33 points!

Additionally, if you are a liberal/progressive, and particularly one who supported Bernie Sanders, how could you vote for Hillary (other than as a “because she’s not Trump” rebuttal)? She has lived a lifetime of scandal, going back decades. She had to deal with two of them during this campaign so far alone! And, in the midst of the scandal — in which the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz were shown to be in collusion with Hillary, working to help her secure the nomination — how did Hillary react to the information about this leaking out? She hired Debbie to her campaign! I can’t understand why any Bernie fan would vote for her in light of this affair; Bernie literally ran against her entire means of governance which she would employ. Just a few short months ago, Bernie Sanders said, “Let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton, I don’t believe that she is qualified” to be President!

Furthermore, I don’t see why anyone would suspect there to be a change in procedure from her once elected. If she’s been able to get away with this much stuff so far — including outright having the election rigged for her (as WikiLeaks show), then why would she change course from corruption if — in spite of all this — she’s put in office? Furthermore, why would the Democratic party change course in the future when they have proof positive they need only do what they want to steer an election?

 

The Conservative Case for Third-Party Voting

On the other hand, the same reasons I write above to not vote for Hillary from a liberal/progressive point of view are why I likewise won’t just turn my head, hold my nose, and vote for Trump, either. I don’t feel he deserves a victory after how he’s run his campaign. I hate the notion that he represents Republicanism and/or conservatism when he actually is a parody and caricature of it. I loathe the perception that he somehow comes from Tea Party roots and represents them, because he doesn’t (and I know, as I was there during its inception). Finally — and this is an important part that I think also relates to the Democratic situation as well — if he wins, then all of that becomes verified. Trump = Republican/conservative/Tea Party movement. And he’s stuck there for the next election cycle as well since he’d be the incumbent come 2020. The Democrats get to pick who they want to run (spoiler alert: it’s going to be Elizabeth Warren) and America will vote Trump out undoubtedly in that election as a referendum. This is part of why I am #NeverTrump

Now, let’s flip the script. Hillary wins. She embodies corruption (this could be said of her at this very juncture, to be fair). She legitimizes what the DNC has done (to Bernie and the electoral process of the past year) as fair game for future elections — likely on both sides; if Republicans see such actions don’t dissuade the American voters, why would they not likewise partake (it’s already been suggested)? And she’s the incumbent come 2020, in which a Republican can come along and make the case against her, especially after she’s had the initial “first female president” accolade already anyway.

Bottom line is, from my point of view as a conservative, it’s better to have an opposition to rally around than to have someone in place that you don’t like, don’t feel represents what the movement should be, and doesn’t help advance it — but hey at least the letter in parentheses after their name matches!

All the scaremongering about Trump, a reality TV star and New York Democrat most of his life who has none of the political connections to actually do anything as president and will get blocked by Congress at every turn, compared to Hillary, who is connected enough within the establishment to pay back her corporate donors with policies that screw the common man while espousing through her party that Donald Trump is Hitler who hates Muslims/gays/blacks/women/trans/Mexicans/etc. The identity politics gets real tiring when the real issue of political corruption is swept under the rug and outright ignored.

 

Third-Party Voting: Now is the time

Again, I write none of the above as a defense of Trump or to convince one to vote for him, but merely to assuage the notion — however erroneous it is in practice despite feeling right in your head — that a vote for a third-party candidate instead of Hillary means Trump wins (or vice versa) and that your actions caused that. No, your actions led to your vote; if the Democratic Party could not earn your vote, that’s on them, not you; you don’t owe them it for the sake of “lesser of two evils.”

Now, if you support Hillary, so be it; vote for her. If you do not, look into other options of candidates that deserve your support. If not now, when? If they cannot count on your support in the face of the two most unpopular candidates in modern history, when would they ever? For what reason should anyone ever run third-party if you would look them in the face and say, “I support you, but not enough to vote for you over someone I don’t actually support.” Avalanches aren’t one big snowball; they are many, many of them. If enough of them unite, even one at a time, change can happen. To ever get somewhere, people are going to have to stop writing them off and start giving them a chance. Yes, it’s unlikely a third-party candidate will win this election. I don’t think most people dispute that. But it moves the needle and makes the option more palatable for the future and thus more viable as well. If you actually want to break the two-party stranglehold on American politics, there needs to be an increase in third-party voting, accruing over time, for them to gain traction and make a difference. I daresay that this has been coming for a while now, and we see third party on the cusp as we speak, with Gary Johnson and Jill Stein nearly making the debates, and Independent candidate Evan McMullin polling well in Utah while simultaneously earning endorsements from new media personalities.

The fact of the matter is the President is usually a figurehead — where the real action happens is in Congress. The President can say he’d like Congress to do something — and often times they begin the action towards that goal — but the system of checks and balances is such that a majority is needed for legislation to take place. Trump can say he’s going to build a wall, but he can’t do that if Congress doesn’t fund it (they won’t). Bernie can say “free college!” but that would require legislation to actually take place, and it likely would not.
In the end it’s likely that Hillary or Trump will come out the victor. The only question is what role you choose to play in it – do you want to contribute to her likely win (despite not actually supporting her), or do you want your vote to actually have personal meaning to it, rather than actually throw it away by contributing to the protraction of this system that has brought us to the crossroads at which we now find ourselves?


The following post actually started out as a Facebook comment reply, but was deemed to verbose to allow me to submit it. Below is my attempt to convert my sentiments into blog format.

As we head into the final weeks of Election 2016, voters are confronted with the two most unlikable nominees in at least 100 years, if not ever. The situation has some considering voting third-party come November. While third-party votes do take place every election cycle, they are often disregarded among the general populace and media, and especially by the two main party candidates. However, with things as they stand now, third-party candidates are getting enough attention that even the current President is urging people not to vote third-party, and his party’s campaign is bringing out a former nominee to try to convince these same people that he lost because of them. And, in contrast to Obama’s suggestion that a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Trump, I’ve had Trump supporters tell me that a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Hillary.

I would like to take the time to politely say that that’s all hogwash.

A vote is only ever a “throwaway” vote if you cast it for someone for whom you do not actually support. Your vote is your own and nobody else’s. You do not owe it to any party as a means of preventing the other party from succeeding. In fact, this merely enforces the two-party system virtually in perpetuity. Literally, “the lesser of two evils” is how we got into the current situation; each party, individually, nominated its least popular candidate for the general election, banking on the sole notion that party loyalty/unity would overcome the objectionable candidate of that party.

Now, more than ever before, would be the time to show that they don’t own your vote by default. Hold them accountable by actually casting your vote for someone you can be proud of, regardless of a perceived potential outcome.

Scare Tactics

Allow me to veer into a tangent that I promise relates back to the overall topic at hand, for reasons I will explain momentarily: one thing each major party of course does in elections is use fear tactics to scare you into voting for them instead of their opposition. I have witnessed countless Democratic campaigns that will use what I call boogeyman tactics regarding social issues. Are Democrats more liberal on social issues than Republicans? Absolutely. 100%, without question. But Democrats tend to go so over the top, they paint this picture that a Republican would undo all progress made during the past decade. They often make it seem that a Republican will nominate Supreme Court justices that will reverse Roe v. Wade, somehow deny gay rights, or strike down Obamacare outright. None of these things are likely to actually take place regardless of the outcome (and yet they are used even at the state level elections).

In my lifetime — between Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W Bush — Roe v Wade still stands, held up in 1992 in Casey v Planned Parenthood, where THREE of the justices in the majority were appointed by Republicans. This year’s revisit of the same topic? A Republican-appointed justice again in the majority. Obamacare’s legal challenge in 2012? Upheld by Justice Roberts, who was appointed by GW Bush. Even gay marriage was made legal with a Republican-appointed justice in the majority. So these scare tactics largely do not actually come to fruition.

Republicans also use scare tactics, but I usually see it in terms of economics (ie Democrats spending/taxing more than Republicans would like) or international affairs, with them often being called “warhawks,” but I’ve also heard that same term apply to Hillary if elected, too.

Why do I mention this? Because I believe it plays a role in the fear, concern, or worry that, if you do not vote for one of the top two candidates, you would potentially be responsible for a the other candidate’s presidency, and there are things about their potential administration that concern you.

 

Addressing the Concerns

The Liberal/Progressive Case for Third-Party Voting

So let’s address each then! If you are liberal/progressive/Democrat/etc, it is likely that your concern is that, by voting third-party, your one vote may be responsible for the election of Donald Trump. Before I explore this concern, I’d like to state two things: 1) at the time of this writing, FiveThirtyEight has Hillary at an 86.4% chance of winning the election at the time of this writing, so it is very, very likely that she will win, regardless of your vote. Secondly, I’d like to of course stipulate that I am not defending Trump here in what I am about to say, but merely hoping to allay some of your concerns that have possibly been mulled about in your head as a result of this election season.

Has Trump said a veritable litany of stupid and abhorrent things in this campaign? Absolutely. I presume there will be a “highlight reel” of sorts as the focal point of the Clinton campaign. But what’s interesting and pissed off a lot of conservatives is that Trump was saying the opposite things just a year (if not months) before he decided to run as a Republican. You can take any single issue for which Trump has said his (current) position and find audio or video of him saying the exact opposite. I bring this up because, despite the boogeyman tactics that will be employed against him — for all the actual conservatism that we saw in Reagan/Bush/GW Bush, and for how little it did to prohibit progressive causes as outlined above, such boogeyman tactics should fall short in consideration of Trump, as he is far more likely to be moderate (or even liberal) in office than the proprietors of boogeyman tactics would have you believe he would act. In fact, this is part of the criticism of conservatives that have not embraced him (myself included).

Another point to note is that, when Trump most often sounds professional and not-an-asshole, he is reading from a script. I didn’t watch the Republican National Convention, but I read his speech, and it wasn’t bad from a professional standpoint. Granted, he may have Trump’d his delivery of it for all I know, but the bottom line I got from reading it is that someone wrote it for him. You can tell, because there’s plenty of times where he is off-script or caught unawares and says something that makes you roll your eyes (and probably his campaign team). But, when he is managed, it’s better. I mention this because, if he is elected President, he will be surrounded by advisers. I very much doubt he will make a single decision without running it by people because, a man of his ego, he’s going to want to have an actual legacy if he actually wins.

He’s also always talked in his business world about proposing something far greater than you intend to acquire so that, when you bargain and inevitably end up with less, it’s actually what you really wanted. This is Trump’s play in his rhetoric. He doesn’t actually expect to build a wall or ban Muslims and so forth. Sure, that rhetoric brings in the hardcore to his side but, if elected, his actual desires are far lower than that; it’s part of how he deals. Again, I’m not excusing his policy rhetoric. I’m merely saying it’s highly unlikely to actually take place. We’ve already heard him back off of things when pressed on it.

Again, it’s highly unlikely he will win anyway, so you should not have much worry that your vote going to a non-Hillary candidate means Trump takes office because of it. In addition to the 86.4% chance of Hillary winning this election, it’s also worth noting that Clinton leads among women by (an unprecedented) 33 points!

Additionally, if you are a liberal/progressive, and particularly one who supported Bernie Sanders, how could you vote for Hillary (other than as a “because she’s not Trump” rebuttal)? She has lived a lifetime of scandal, going back decades. She had to deal with two of them during this campaign so far alone! And, in the midst of the scandal — in which the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz were shown to be in collusion with Hillary, working to help her secure the nomination — how did Hillary react to the information about this leaking out? She hired Debbie to her campaign! I can’t understand why any Bernie fan would vote for her in light of this affair; Bernie literally ran against her entire means of governance which she would employ. Just a few short months ago, Bernie Sanders said, “Let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton, I don’t believe that she is qualified” to be President!

Furthermore, I don’t see why anyone would suspect there to be a change in procedure from her once elected. If she’s been able to get away with this much stuff so far — including outright having the election rigged for her (as WikiLeaks show), then why would she change course from corruption if — in spite of all this — she’s put in office? Furthermore, why would the Democratic party change course in the future when they have proof positive they need only do what they want to steer an election?

 

The Conservative Case for Third-Party Voting

On the other hand, the same reasons I write above to not vote for Hillary from a liberal/progressive point of view are why I likewise won’t just turn my head, hold my nose, and vote for Trump, either. I don’t feel he deserves a victory after how he’s run his campaign. I hate the notion that he represents Republicanism and/or conservatism when he actually is a parody and caricature of it. I loathe the perception that he somehow comes from Tea Party roots and represents them, because he doesn’t (and I know, as I was there during its inception). Finally — and this is an important part that I think also relates to the Democratic situation as well — if he wins, then all of that becomes verified. Trump = Republican/conservative/Tea Party movement. And he’s stuck there for the next election cycle as well since he’d be the incumbent come 2020. The Democrats get to pick who they want to run (spoiler alert: it’s going to be Elizabeth Warren) and America will vote Trump out undoubtedly in that election as a referendum. This is part of why I am #NeverTrump

Now, let’s flip the script. Hillary wins. She embodies corruption (this could be said of her at this very juncture, to be fair). She legitimizes what the DNC has done (to Bernie and the electoral process of the past year) as fair game for future elections — likely on both sides; if Republicans see such actions don’t dissuade the American voters, why would they not likewise partake (it’s already been suggested)? And she’s the incumbent come 2020, in which a Republican can come along and make the case against her, especially after she’s had the initial “first female president” accolade already anyway.

Bottom line is, from my point of view as a conservative, it’s better to have an opposition to rally around than to have someone in place that you don’t like, don’t feel represents what the movement should be, and doesn’t help advance it — but hey at least the letter in parentheses after their name matches!

All the scaremongering about Trump, a reality TV star and New York Democrat most of his life who has none of the political connections to actually do anything as president and will get blocked by Congress at every turn, compared to Hillary, who is connected enough within the establishment to pay back her corporate donors with policies that screw the common man while espousing through her party that Donald Trump is Hitler who hates Muslims/gays/blacks/women/trans/Mexicans/etc. The identity politics gets real tiring when the real issue of political corruption is swept under the rug and outright ignored.

 

Third-Party Voting: Now is the time

Again, I write none of the above as a defense of Trump or to convince one to vote for him, but merely to assuage the notion — however erroneous it is in practice despite feeling right in your head — that a vote for a third-party candidate instead of Hillary means Trump wins (or vice versa) and that your actions caused that. No, your actions led to your vote; if the Democratic Party could not earn your vote, that’s on them, not you; you don’t owe them it for the sake of “lesser of two evils.”

Now, if you support Hillary, so be it; vote for her. If you do not, look into other options of candidates that deserve your support. If not now, when? If they cannot count on your support in the face of the two most unpopular candidates in modern history, when would they ever? For what reason should anyone ever run third-party if you would look them in the face and say, “I support you, but not enough to vote for you over someone I don’t actually support.” Avalanches aren’t one big snowball; they are many, many of them. If enough of them unite, even one at a time, change can happen. To ever get somewhere, people are going to have to stop writing them off and start giving them a chance. Yes, it’s unlikely a third-party candidate will win this election. I don’t think most people dispute that. But it moves the needle and makes the option more palatable for the future and thus more viable as well. If you actually want to break the two-party stranglehold on American politics, there needs to be an increase in third-party voting, accruing over time, for them to gain traction and make a difference. I daresay that this has been coming for a while now, and we see third party on the cusp as we speak, with Gary Johnson and Jill Stein nearly making the debates, and Independent candidate Evan McMullin polling well in Utah while simultaneously earning endorsements from new media personalities.

The fact of the matter is the President is usually a figurehead — where the real action happens is in Congress. The President can say he’d like Congress to do something — and often times they begin the action towards that goal — but the system of checks and balances is such that a majority is needed for legislation to take place. Trump can say he’s going to build a wall, but he can’t do that if Congress doesn’t fund it (they won’t). Bernie can say “free college!” but that would require legislation to actually take place, and it likely would not.
In the end it’s likely that Hillary or Trump will come out the victor. The only question is what role you choose to play in it – do you want to contribute to her likely win (despite not actually supporting her), or do you want your vote to actually have personal meaning to it, rather than actually throw it away by contributing to the protraction of this system that has brought us to the crossroads at which we now find ourselves?


About the author

Jason L. Hubsch

Jason L. Hubsch

I love music, video games, comic books, pro wrestling, politics, and God -- and not necessarily in that order! If you like any of these, chances are we'll get along.

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