Voting third party is worse than throwing your vote away

22 Sep 2016 01:59 am
Posted by: Donna

johnson gary
Don’t blow your vote on this cheeseball! Photo: Gary Johnson’s website

On the way down to do phonebanking early Wednesday evening I was half-listening to “All The Fresh American Things Considered” or whatever on NPR when they began a segment about young, disaffected voters considering voting third party. They spoke to two former Sanders primary voters, the first of whom was a 24 year old law student(!) who said he’d be voting for Green candidate Jill Stein because (paraphrasing) Hillary Clinton’s entire platform was hot neoliberal garbage from which he could not find a single position of hers he found acceptable (despite it having many similarities with Sanders’ platform and her and Sanders voting alike 93% of the time in the Senate together). Then they interviewed a young woman who said she knew Trump was awful but also felt that Hillary Clinton was “dishonest and inauthentic”. She was torn between Clinton and Gary Johnson, despite knowing that voting third party might help Trump.

We often deem these protest votes, in a system designed for two major parties, to be an act of throwing one’s vote away. But it’s worse than that, albeit admittedly not as bad as voting for Trump. The reason is that Stein and Johnson are real candidates, both of whom are running on policy preferences they apparently believe in.

As Jordan Weissmann of Slate explains, Stein’s platform is a mishmash of unworkable unicorn economic schemes laced with a heaping dose of unscientific woo.

Tucked into this long, starry-eyed list of progressive causes are a few lines that remind you of the far left’s fraught relationship with biological science. There’s a call not just to label genetically modified foods but to “put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.” Never mind that scientists have studied GMOs extensively and found no signs of danger to human health—Stein would like medical researchers to prove a negative. She would also “Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.” This is a nod to the discredited theory that some pesticides are driving the collapse of honeybee populations (which, by the way, are not actually collapsing). Again, this is somewhat standard stuff on the far left these days, but coming from a physician, it’s discouraging. It is also in keeping with the last official Green Party platform, from 2014, which supports the “teaching, funding, and practice” of “alternative therapies” such as naturopathy and homeopathy, i.e. funneling money into quack medicine. (Stein first ran for president as a green in 2012).

And Kevin Drum at Mother Jones can’t fathom why any liberal would find Johnson’s platform appealing, outside of legalized pot and a few civil liberties issues:

On the other hand, Johnson is a libertarian. Here’s a smattering of what else he believes:

He supports TPP.
He supports fracking.
He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely.
He thinks Citizens United is great.
He doesn’t want to raise the minimum wage. At all.
He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds.
He opposes net neutrality.
He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he’s open to privatization.
He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
He opposes practically all forms of gun control.
He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
He supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
He opposes any government action to address climate change.
He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
He wants to remove the Fed’s mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states.
He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.

Simply sitting out the election, or voting a pure protest vote by writing your own name or Mickey Mouse in, is throwing one’s vote away. A liberal voting for Stein or Johnson is infecting their protest vote with Ebola, especially if either or both receive enough votes to tip the Electoral College to Donald Trump. Like that unrepentant narcissistic fuckwit Ralph Nader before them, neither Stein nor Johnson will have the self-awareness or sense of shame to assume any blame for the horror a Trump presidency would unleash upon the U.S. and the world. Instead, they will convince themselves they have a mandate to double-down on their goofy, dangerous ideas and infect more elections.


  1. Comment by Tom Prezelski on September 22, 2016 5:57 am

    I don’t think it is fair to dismiss Nader as a “fuckwit” at this point. Though he was without doubt a spoiler, he has recently expressed some frustration at the Green Party’s failure to follow up from the momentum of his campaign to build something of substance. He seems to regard them as unserious as much as you do, though perhaps for different reasons.

  2. Comment by Joanie on September 23, 2016 10:00 pm

    Voting third party is like buying a lotto ticket and throwing it away. You can’t win. Voting third party guarantees that you will not influence the future of the world cause you are too young? immature? obstinate, or just plain weird to choose a candidate that has a chance of winning. Choosing a third party candidate earlier on and during Primary’s is ok. But if their popularity doesn’t rise enough to win, it is crazy and disloyal to yourself- sort of like staying single cause one person you wanted got married and refusing to even date or check out other possibilities: just a stupid, painful choice sane people wouldn’t make.

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