There is no shortage of derisive arguments compelling you to avoid voting third party in the upcoming Presidential election, or in any election for that matter. The crux of these arguments center around the walking disasters the Democrats and Republicans have given us as candidates and the understandable fear people have over the idea of one or both of them being placed in charge of the United States and, by extension, the most powerful military arsenal in the world. But while it’s hard to argue against the notion that Clinton and Trump are worth opposing, more and more people are finding that the notion pof supporting either one of them is just as difficult to accept.
This is where so-called ‘third parties’ come in. In the United States we have two major parties (Democrats and Republicans) and two ‘major’ third parties, the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. It is vital to American Democracy that we work to elevate the Green and Libertarian Parties to the ‘major party’ tier immediately. More than almost anything, that means supporting and voting for candidates from these parties if they align with your values.
By having four major parties we can transform our country into a nation of ‘swing states.’ The current system, in which the two major parties manufacture a dialectic to completely pivot the debate around easily controllable social wedge issues, has brought us to the point where about 3 or 4 states in the entire country decide the Presidential election. And the divisive and counterproductive nature of the conservative-liberal dialectic in America has brought us to the point where we have two corporate, pro-war, pro-banker, pro-themselves parties that offer very little, if anything, to the working class and the poor in the United States, but who receive the votes of too many of these working class and poor people based on fear and allegiance to the relative identity politics that self-described ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ Americans ascribe to.
It’s easy to explain the mechanism by which expanding our political system to encompass more parties will lead to an expansion of Democracy and a strengthening of our political discourse. Take Georgia’s most recent polling numbers for the upcoming Presidential election for a poll conducted August 1st through 4th. When asked if voters prefer Trump vs Clinton, the numbers indicate Clinton leads Trump 44 to 40. When Libertarian Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party are included, the numbers are Clinton 41, Trump 38, Johnson 11, Stein 2. Georgia is not a swing state and tends to go Republican. Whether Trump’s poor showing is more a reflection of Trump or the strength of a growing Libertarian voting bloc is hard to say, but the raw numbers alone should be a warning to the GOP that it can’t just use gun control fearmongering to wrangle in Georgia conservatives and other right-wing voters in that state moving forward.
The other point is simply that the existence of more major parties expands the discourse. Both Libertarians and Greens oppose our current policies of military aggression. Greens can be accurately described as an anti-war party. When we have two parties that are deeply embedded with and ceaselessly work for the perpetuation of the military industrial complex, anti-war voices in our political system are of vital importance.
The notion that you should just hold off voting third party until ‘next time’ is not going to suddenly go away ‘next time’ and therefore there is no better time than this election to vote for third party candidates that align with your values. The future of our country just may depend on it.