The Third Party Anti-Solution

JULIA SERRA | OPINION EDITOR

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My facebook feed is constantly reminding me that I’m “choosing between the lesser of two evils.” The political world is a spiraling myriad of blue and red, left and right deplorables and social justice warriors. It’s a purpley mess undermined with disappointment and fear. The strength of the moral conscious is almost too strong to cast a flag of support in either direction. The two-party system has truly screwed us over. But, in the eyes of many, two bright lights have shone in all this chaos. Green Party representative Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson are strikingly normal. There’s something incredibly refreshing about watching Gary Johnson ride his bike. When John Oliver brought Stein’s folk band into the limelight, it was a pleasingly wholesome scandal in comparison to the the Trump tapes that had been released not  long before. More than anything else however, third-party campaigns have been focusing on the moral appeal to voting for a candidate you can stand  by. The appeal is to principle; but, in light of the supreme threat of a Trump presidency, is principle really a valid reason to vote for a candidate that has little to no chance of overthrowing Trump?

I would like to add a short disclaimer. I’m tired of telling people not to vote for Donald Trump. The reasons to cast your ballot other ways are as blatant as his tan is fake. If you haven’t decided against him yet, I’m pretty sure I can’t change your mind. I’m having an incredibly difficult time understanding your mindset, and I’m not sure I’m capable of appealing to your sense of reason. This article is written with the assumption that Hillary Clinton, despite her flaws, is a strongly preferable presidential candidate. If you disagree, take your wrath elsewhere. This article probably isn’t for you.

But is the idea of maintaining the principle of being happy with your ballot enough to make you vote for a third party? Here’s the thing: voting for what you really truly believe is a wonderful principle. I want to walk into the polls and feel excited about my decision. I want believe that my vote represents beliefs. But we are living in a world where principle is weak in the light of reality. Donald Trump has been outwardly sexist, racist and discriminatory towards people with disabilities. His immigration policies alone threaten the livelihoods of thousands of families. Time and time again he displays a temperament which a rational voter could not trust with the nuclear codes. Voting on principle is less noble when livelihood is at stake. If you are voting third-party because you want to vote for someone you believe in, understand that you are assuming you have the privilege of remaining unaffected by Donald Trump and his cruelties. The worst-case scenario for a Clinton presidency is four years of a bad president. America has had bad presidents before; I have faith that we could survive another. If Trump becomes president, a recovery is not so simple. Think of all of the ugliness that has come out of the woodwork since he started his campaign. He has justified a movement of hate. Now imagine this continuing and escalating for four more years. Is that really worth casting a third-party vote? Is that really the price you’re willing to pay for a chance to check a box on a ballot stating your true beliefs?

I’m not against the idea of a third party, but it’s almost impossible for these parties to jump into a presidency. In order to have a real chance at political power, third parties have to establish their presence throughout American politics. As it stands, they are a detour from what should be a voter’s top priority: keeping Donald Trump out of office. A realistic voter understands that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have a very small chance at being elected president. Collectively, Johnson and Stein are polling at 11% of the vote. If you are voting third party, you are voting merely on principle, and while in a less dangerous election I could respect that, your principle comes at the risk of other Americans’ general livelihood. You simply cannot afford to throw your vote away with a third-party candidate.

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