Check out Emma R.'s (WA) piece on why 3rd party candidate support isn't all it's cracked up to be. Check out our Myths + Comebacks section for more reasons why you should be #HillNotJill and (coming soon) #Hil-larryNotGary! -Bella D.
Hi! This is your local Angered Citizen, Emma R., speaking. I cannot vote in November because somebody (my parents) decided that I must be born in February and miss the cutoff. So, while some of you are queueing up at the ballot boxes, I will be at home, eating copious amounts of chocolate and praying. And because I cannot vote, I am going to try to influence all of you. Not to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, even though those who know me know my political leanings, but to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. If that does not make sense yet, read on. It soon will.
Much to the chagrin of George Washington’s ghost, we have a party system in America, and right now, there are two parties: Democratic and Republican. What about the Green Party, you ask? Or the Libertarians? Yeah, well, tough luck. In this election, and probably the next one too (unless the Republican party fractures), those parties are virtually nonexistent. I’m here to tell you that voting for a third party candidate is a waste of your vote and just overall a bad thing to do.
Until there is a significant third party presence in local and national politics, a third party candidate will not win the presidential election.
This is the most important point to understand. If you watched Libertarian Town Hall, you will know that Gary Johnson says he can get enough votes to win the election. But that is not how American democracy works. Sure, if we were in Ancient Athens (direct democracy), maybe. But we live in ‘Murica, and ‘Murica is an indirect democracy. Popular vote is not all it takes to win an election—just ask Al Gore (more on that later). Each state, besides Nebraska and Maine, is basically winner takes all. Let us say that in a presidential race between Martin O’Malley and Bobby Jindal (just suspend your disbelief for a moment), the majority of Washington voters check the “Martin O’Malley” box. At least eleven of our electors will vote for Martin O’Malley, thanks to a law that Former Governor Chris Gregoire signed in the aftermath of Bush v. Gore (again, more on that later). The Electoral College is not without its opponents, but the main reason it has stayed a part of our democratic system for so long is that is gives fairer representation to smaller states, whose interests would otherwise be drowned out by the sheer population of states like Texas or California. Now, that brings us to partisan voting in the Electoral College. Each candidate in a presidential race has their own electors that represent their party. In Washington, we technically have twenty-four electoral candidates—twelve Republican and twelve Democratic. This is true for every state; Utah has six electors but twelve electoral candidates, Minnesota has ten electors but twenty electoral candidates—so on and so forth. In our hypothetical scenario, when Martin O’Malley wins the popular vote, our twelve Democratic electoral candidates become electors and travel down to Olympia to cast their vote for Martin O’Malley. We operate within a two party system, so we do not have any Green or Libertarian electors. Why? Because Jill Stein (the Green Party candidate) is polling at three percent. Harambe, may his soul rest in peace, is polling at five percent. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, is polling at six percent. Listen to me: Harambe, who is a gorilla and also dead, has a better chance of winning the presidency than Jill Stein. And if we do not have any Harambe Party electors, we certainly do not have any Green Party electors.
YOU HAVE TWO OPTIONS!
If you have ever read a Tumblr post about how your vote doesn’t count because of the establishment or the bourgeoisie, READ ON! Because your vote does count—that is, if you vote Democratic or Republican. Look, I don’t care if you vote for Trump. I mean, I do, I really do, but that is not what this article is about. If you have ever been disenchanted with American democracy, you need to know that your vote counts, and that not voting because you do not think it does literally proves your point. Remember Brexit? Yeah, only around 36% of the British population even showed up to the polls! This is why voting is important. And if you want your vote to count in this election, you have to vote for a Democratic or Republican candidate. Please read the above if you are confused about how the presidential election works, but I cannot stress enough that you have only two choices in this election. But Emma, what about voting your conscience, you ask? To that, I say that the only way to vote your conscience is to vote smart, and voting smart means not voting for Gary Johnson, no matter how much you may agree with his policies. Being Libertarian is okay! Please, be as Libertarian as your beautiful anti-big-government pro-individual-freedom heart will allow! This is not about ideology; it’s about working the American party system. In the past, there have been more than two legitimate options for president. Take my favorite election (besides 1968, #pigasus), the election of 1912. Four legitimate candidates: Roosevelt (Bull Moose), Taft (Republican), Wilson (Democrat), and Debs (Socialist). Wilson won, but guess why? No really, guess. OKAY, I’ll tell you. Teddy Roosevelt, like the diva he was, split the Republican Party by creating a new one, the Bull Moose Party, therefore dividing the votes between himself and Taft. This isn’t to say that Wilson wasn’t an extremely qualified candidate, but if Roosevelt hadn’t done that, the history of America might be looking very different right now. And now, a history lesson that none of us remember because we were all two years old at the most.
Your dad is still bitter about Al Gore not being president.
The year is 2000. I was but a small babe at my mother’s breast, so I obviously have no memory of this, but perhaps you have heard of this controversy before. Welcome to the only year in history that the Green Party was relevant. Sorry Jill Stein, but it’s true. The candidates were incumbent Texas governor George W. Bush with running mate Dick Cheney and Vice President Al Gore alongside Senator Joe Lieberman. Republican, Democrat. Simple, right? Not quite. Enter Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate. Sound familiar? Keep reading. Nader campaigned on the idea that Gore and Bush were basically the same corporate evil wearing different masks—“Tweedledee and Tweedledum”, he used to call them, which, coincidentally (or not) is the same platform that third party candidates are running on today. Regardless of the truthfulness of his claim, it is widely believed that Nader “spoiled” the election that would have otherwise been cinched by Gore. This is due to the Florida recount. On Election Day, within ten minutes of the polls closing, all major news outlets announced that Gore had won Florida, but the votes had not yet been fully counted. When they were finished counting, it was revealed that Bush had carried Florida by about 100,000 votes, and that was enough for him to win the entire election. You know who got about 100,000 votes in Florida that would have otherwise gone to Gore? None other than our boy, Ralph Nader. One recount and two Supreme Court decisions later, Bush was still the winner. Bush became our president, and you should know the rest. Even though Nader only got 2.7% of the vote (less than Jill Stein and Harambe), that 2.7%, in Florida, was make-or-break for the election. Do you want this to happen again this year? Jill Stein supporters, do you really want a fruitless campaign for the Green Party to split the vote just enough for Trump to win? Gary Johnson supporters, do you really want to see the tiny-handed man lose to Hillary by a hair’s breadth of a margin? Exactly. Don’t vote third party.
And a special note to Bernie or Bust people: it’s over. Please stop. We get it. I love Bernie too. But you know what I love more than Bernie? The American democratic system. Which doesn’t really allow for write-ins. So please, get off it, and vote for Hillary Clinton if you want a Democratic president.
America, this is serious. This isn’t some humdrum election. This is Trump and Clinton we are talking about here. And if you dislike both Hillz and Don, just think about this beautiful country. Then think about Harambe. Then think about how he’s polling in between the two third party candidates. Then think about America again. You know what to do. See you at the polls. Or not, because, you know, I can’t vote.
Originally published in the Lakeside School Tatler