I’m not big into politics but I pay attention enough to have a basic understanding of what’s going on, it’s what responsible citizens do. Aside from that, I also remember enough high school government and U.S. history to understand politics at its most fundamental level–strategy.
Fortunately there’s more than one way to skin a cat and to understand politics. I’ve watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy enough times, seen the unthinkable in 300, watched Ghost scheme in Power for two seasons, and lost my shit watching Game of Thrones enough to see that be it for power, for yo coins, or for land–politics is all about strategy.
Strategy is often the difference maker in a “the pen is mightier than the sword” sort of way. Strategy makes it possible for an army of 300 men to defeat an army of thousands. Strategy provides a glimmer of hope when there is none. Strategy helped Tommy Egan usurp Milan (who it is worth mentioning also employed a brilliant strategy to control Ghost).
Okay so why does this matter? What does this have to do with Her?
Well, your, our votes, should be cast like well plotted strategies. Sometimes we’re presented with choices that have no real favorable options, insert Decision 2016: Donald or Hillary.
A lot of people talking about voting third party. I get it. #neither2016, I feel the same way. More and more citizens are pointing out that the very question of Donald OR Hilary, as if no other options exist, is a major part of the problem with American Politics. The reality is, there are more than 2 presidential candidates. There are more than two political parties. The reality is also that the public is being out strategized by politicians. But more on that later.
As uninspired as I feel about Hillary and as vehemently against Trump as I am—voting third party, while technically an option, isn’t really an option that makes sense strategically. Until American politics acknowledges and treats other parties as viable candidates, you might as well not vote if you insist on voting that way.
Because everyone, including the Green Party candidates, knows that either Donald Trump OR Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. These two candidates know that, and they campaign with this in mind. No matter how you vote, or if you vote, one of them is winning. So why would anyone, knowing that, vote for someone you know cannot win? That is a wasted vote. A poor strategy.
Make no mistake, Donald Trump’s camp KNOWS there are plenty of people who would NEVER vote for him regardless of what he says, does, or who endorses him. They know some people won’t vote for Trump regardless of how much they dislike Hillary. And he doesn’t care about those of us who will never give him a chance. Quite frankly he doesn’t need to.
Knowing that, he isn’t speaking to any of us. He’s campaigning to his supporters, undecided, and apathetic voters. He doesn’t need you to vote for him, he needs you NOT to vote for Hillary.
For anyone thinking Trump is so much of a joke that the Democrats have nothing to worry about, think again. Democrats are scared. Hillary has not been able to excite her base the way that President Obama did in 2008. Remember that he convinced a record number of millennials and people of color in particular to vote when they normally don’t. Hillary is struggling to connect with millennials and she needs our vote to win. If millennials and apathetic voters stay home or vote third-party, it narrows the margin that Trump needs to be competitive. This is very likely. And Donald Trump is banking on us to stay home. It is also probably why he spends so much time talking about why we shouldn’t vote for her as opposed to why we should vote for him.
So again, knowing this, why would anyone in good conscious vote third-party? Why are the candidates running?
There are actually some noteworthy reasons although I personally disagree with the execution.
It is no secret that running for president costs a lot of money. The federal campaign finance laws stipulate that political parties must have at least 5% of the votes from the previous election in order to receive government campaign funds. The Green Party has yet to achieve this which forces them to fund their own campaigns, and affects other areas such as visibility. This is likely one of the major goals of current Green Party candidates considering actually winning the 2016 presidential election is highly unlikely. If they can gain enough support to reach 5% of the popular vote on election day, they can in theory make a better run on a larger scale in 2020.
Again, largely due to the funding rules, third party candidates typically must fund their own campaigns making things like commercials and other marketing material difficult to produce, especially at the scale of either of the major two-party candidates. This renders them invisible. Ever notice how even the presidential/vice-presidential debates only have the Democratic and Republican candidates? Well that is because in order to qualify for the debates, candidates must have at least 15% of the vote. Prior to the qualifying checks for the first debate, Jill Stein had just under 4% and Gary Johnson just over 8.5%. Third-party candidates have been escorted away and even arrested for trying to participate without qualifying in the past.
Especially for candidates who are not already well known, I am sure you can imagine how stifling this is. For much of the public, these debates are they way they (hopefully) get to know more about the candidates’ platforms and see them go head to head on hot button issues.
How can third-party candidates make their positions known broadly if we can’t see them and by in large they are boxed out from the process? I know you’re probably thinking they have websites, but how many people do you know who take it upon themselves to independently research all of the candidates?
It’s a viscous cycle.
Destroy the Establishment
In addition to simply disliking the present candidates, many who are planning to vote third-party are simply fed up with the systems in place that perpetuate this idea that we only have two choices. The funding restrictions, the lack of media coverage, ballot restrictions, the electoral college, the conflicts of interest (ex: the Commission on Presidential Debates is a non profit org controlled by the two major parties)–all ways the ‘establishment’ makes it virtually impossible for voters to have their full range of choices.
Remember I mentioned that the public is being out strategized by politicians? These are some of the ways.
Remember that with the way the Electoral College is structured, there is an electoral vote and a popular vote (think: how Al Gore lost to baby Bush). The electoral vote decides the presidency. In many states it is a winner-takes-all system, meaning that the candidate with the highest percentage of votes gets AWL of that states’ electoral votes towards the 270 goal. This is yet another barrier for third party candidates.
If you’re like me and are completely opposed to the idea of President Trump, third-party votes make it more possible for him (the greater evil) to win a state’s electoral votes by ‘stealing’ (for lack of a better term) votes from Hillary Clinton (the lesser evil). Obviously the ‘stealing’ of votes is presumptive at best and I do wholeheartedly believe that third-party candidates should be seen as much more than “spoilers.” This is just to illustrate again what we already know, one of them is going to win, which one would you rather it be, you HAVE to choose, and will your vote help or hinder that result?
To Sum it All Up
I know in this post I’ve probably made a really good case for third party-candidates, but even though she’s got my vote, #ImNotWithHer. I’m not asking or expecting anyone to believe in Hillary, hell I’m not even convinced that I do. In fact, I believe strongly in a lot of what these third-party candidates are saying, and I agree that this system only breeds half-assed politicians who will say anything to win. It fosters a landscape where politicians don’t have to earn votes. It feeds a never ending cycle of greed and back handed deals (mostly by the rich) to maintain control.
I get it.
But in addition to knowing that, I also know that voting third-party won’t accomplish much, they need a new strategy. It’s been over 30 years and it hasn’t worked yet. In four years they’ll be experiencing the same funding issues (again) and still battling invisibility in the political landscape. For the third-party to be on the main stage, the battle will be won through a grass roots effort. Bottom up. They can fund raise in the years between presidential elections. Build familiarity. Without consistency they’ll remain background noise while the theme song plays. The local act you’ve never heard of opening for the main act. You get my point.
I know that despite my apathy for both candidates, one is clearly worse than the other. I have to be strategic in November, even if the reality of it sucks. You should too. I’d rather been dealing with the same issues in 4-8 years while focusing on getting the right candidate than indirectly signing up to follow Donald Trump backwards to “make America great again,”by voting for someone who cannot win.
Unfortunately politics is often a question of who is the better choice when all the choices suck. You still have to choose. Not choosing is still choosing. And in this case voting third party is like intentionally making stray marks on a Scantron test.
Whatever you decide, think twice about who you’re with.