Your Third Party Vote Does Not Matter


Photo by Jason Qu, The Science Survey

Ronin Rodkey, ’18, Editorial Columnist.

In the year 2000, George W. Bush managed to decisively win the presidency by 537 votes, a win that would eventually lead us into war in Iraq and plunge us into a recession at home, setting our country back by years of progress. Many people attribute his win to Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate, who managed to siphon off 2.7% of the popular vote from Al Gore, the Democratic Party candidate.

Such a result is more likely than ever to be mirrored in 2016: support for third-party candidates is projected to be the highest in decades, cutting into Hillary Clinton’s support over that of Donald Trump.

Baron Huang ‘18, a former Bernie Sanders supporter, says that he himself would not vote for Clinton, claiming that “she says one thing and does the opposite; just look at her e-mails for proof.”

And yet, the stakes have never been higher. Donald Trump has bragged about sexually assaulting women, used money from his “charity” to buy a $20,000 six foot tall painting of himself, and believes that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese government.

For former supporters of Bernie Sanders, and for that matter all supporters of progressive or liberal policies, Hillary Clinton would be the sensible choice.

As Maha Khan ‘17, co-president of the Bronx Science Young Democrats put it, “[Third-party voters] are being extremely selfish and illogical. [Bernie Sanders’] main goal is to ensure that the United States will never see a Trump presidency. By refusing to vote for Hillary, these [people] are betraying Bernie’s ardent requests and are putting our country in jeopardy.”

Still, a large number of voters are turning to one of two third-party options: Jill Stein, who has demanded the “full story” on 9/11; or Gary Johnson, a former CEO of a company called “Cannabis Sativa, Inc.”

Supporters of these candidates are quick to say that if these third party options had been more recognized by the media, then they would be more well-received by the public. However, it seems as if the opposite would be true.

Jill Stein is notable for her tendency to put forward ambitious policies with no feasible plan for enacting them. She has promised to switch the country to 100% renewable energy by 2030, which is nearly impossible if you consider that such a policy would have to make it past the house and the senate, where even the most progressive politicians would be opposed to such a radical plan. She is also a heavy advocate for the banning of all genetically modified foods (GMOs) until they can be “proven safe,” which is illogical because they have been proven safe. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, in an analysis of over 900 studies, concluded that GMOs are not unsafe.

Gary Johnson, while marginally better, is a weak choice for president if you have ever supported Bernie Sanders or similar progressives. Foremost, wealth inequality would be heavily exasperated under a Johnson presidency.

In regards to economic issues, Johnson is the most extreme of the candidates. He supports an entirely hands-off, laissez faires approach to economics. This may sound good to some, but in practice it would result in corporate tyranny, preventing economic mobility and keeping wages low.

Johnson also heavily supports privatized healthcare, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Citizens United, the elimination of government influence across the board, and the elimination of the minimum wage, just to name a few issues where he runs nearly antithetical to politicians like Bernie Sanders.

In spite of all this, Johnson and Stein supporters still argue that their candidates are worth voting for in order to make a statement. They want to do whatever they can to show organizations like the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that the time for politics as usual is over, and they won’t vote for another “establishment” candidate.

This sort of argument is nonsensical considering how anti-establishment this election season has been.

Though he did not win the nomination, Bernie Sanders got much farther in the primaries than anyone thought he would. He gained tremendous popularity and support in just a few months, clearly demonstrating the rejection of establishment politics to the left.

More than any other presidential candidate this season, Donald Trump has truly demonstrated a rejection of establishment politics within Republican voters. His “huge” amount of supporters show that the American people are angered and want real change. Though he lacks the support of a large group of his own party, he continues to be a feasible candidate for the presidency.

The shift away from establishment politics will not happen in one election cycle, but over many election cycles and many years to come, and it becomes more evident day by day that this shift is speeding up. Our main priority this election cycle, thus, should not be to voice our support for this inevitable movement via a protest vote.