Spinning off from another thread... @Joe Bryant asked me to start a new thread on whether a vote for a third party is a wasted vote. I'm sure I'll get roasted on this one but I'm happy to give it a shot.
I don’t believe voting third party is a wasted vote and here’s why I think it's not...
At its core, I believe a vote is a representation of the issues and policies that are important to that voter and should not be influenced by the votes of someone else. Voting for someone who doesn't represent those interests only ensures that my interests will not be met, and increases the likelihood that they will not be met in the future.
For example, in 2016 (and now) my primary issues were:
Ending the wars
Medicare for all
Improving the environment
Getting money out of politics
Neither HRC or Trump checked ANY of these boxes (HRC even less so than Trump on many issues, ironically) but the Green Party platform checked literally all of them.
So the question here would be - would I be better off voting for someone who didn't represent me, or use my vote to leverage the issues in a very small way? In this case I voted for the issues and cast my vote for Jill Stein.
While I acknowledge that HRC would have probably been a better president than Trump, almost none of what I hoped to get accomplished would get done. Additionally, had she actually won the 2020 election platform certainly wouldn't be where it this election cycle.
With all that said, let's discuss some of the benefits to the voters and parties for voting third party...
Benefits To The Parties
Recognition as an official national party (when they reach 5% nationally)
Federal funding for that party in the 2020 election (when they reach 5% nationally)
Secures access on state ballots (percentage threshold varies by state)
Strengthens party name recognition for future elections (which is helpful for down ballot elections)
Benefits To The Voters
Opportunity to vote for positions not represented by either major party
A higher than normal third party vote exerts influence on the discussion of issues on a national level and forces D/R to consider them
Get out of the "nowhere else to go" trap that has pushed the national parties further away from voter's interests
Arguments against 3rd party voting (and my rebuttal)
- They Have No Chance To Win
In 2018 57% of Americans said a third party is needed and 60% felt the two party system is not working for the people (source) but yet nobody votes third party because "they have no chance". It's a bit like the Yogi Berra line "nobody goes there because it's too busy" line, except it's "Nobody can vote for them until enough people vote for them" 🤦♂️
Simply put: If everyone who wanted a strong third party voted third party, we'd have a strong third party.
I don't disagree that it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to win NOW, but it has to start somewhere. This is why the funding and name recognition are so important, as these two factors improve so will the results. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
- The Spoiler Effect
Mathematically I can understand why this argument exists. As we all know and Stein's vote totals surpassed the amount of votes HRC lost by in MI, WI and PA (and of course a similar story for Nader in 2000). It's easy to assume that third parties "stole" votes from HRC.
That said, when you dig into the exit polling, the vast majority of third party voters would have either stayed home (61%) or voted for Trump (14%). The remaining amount would not have been enough to win. Additionally, in Michigan nearly twice as many people under voted (left president line blank but voted for everything else) than voted for Stein. Of course none of this means the spoiler effect doesn't exist, but clearly the majority of these voters were not interested in voting for either candidate.
My argument here would be that it's on the candidate to give them reason to vote for them and that the voters do not owe anyone a vote.
- We're a Two Party System
We're not a two party system, we're a two party dominated system. If we were exclusively a two party system then third parties would not exist and it would be literally impossible to cast a ballot for them.
- The Lesser Of Two Evils
The lesser of two evil still gets you an "evil" and the more often it happens the worse we get. What's to stop the GOP from running someone worse than Trump next time? What's to stop the Democrats from moving further right to fill that void if they do? It's a vicious cycle.
- Time To Be A Grown Up And Vote For A Real Party
Heard this one dozens of times. Don't be this person... you're better than that.
I know some of you feel strongly about this one... what are your thoughts?