T Nation

Voting for Third Parties

I don’t get people who vote for third parties, knowing full well there is no hope that their vote will matter.

What would be the point of spending your entire life voting for third party candidates who never receive more than 4% of the popular vote? Why not join the major party that most mirrors your views and work to shape it to suit your vision? I admit that would take more effort than just pretending you’re making a difference by voting for someone 90% of the country has never heard of, but at least you’d be doing something that wasn’t purely symbolic.

Third parties are a tough thing. I think this year is a good example. I think both Kerry and Bush have major flaws and I think a lot of people out there would rather not vote for either one.

But, like you said, a third party vote is, in all honesty, a useless vote. I really wish there was a dominant third party that could actually challenge either of the major parties.

At the same time, I can understand those that vote third party, There is nothing wrong with standing for what you believe and voting how you feel; even if you know the chances are slim(very, very slim) that your candidate will even get close to majority vote.

The country is filled with a lot of casual voters. We all know them; the people that vote to say they voted but don’t really know much about the issues. I think a lot a casual voters are either “party voters” or “family voters.” Party voters will always vote for their major party of choice. Family voters go along with their friends and family. Most of these voters are probably unaware of anyone even running.

It’s kind of a shame, it almost force the country into the two-party system we have. America deserves better than two weak choices and a bunch of also-rans.

The electoral college is set up to discourage a multi-party system.

If Nader had won just one state, namely Florida, there would not have been a candidate gain enough electoral votes to win.

We’ll never have anything but a two-party system unless we decide to go with a parliamentary system.

The winner-take-all system and the electoral college (per Rainjack’s good post) keep it that way.

It’s also a great moderating influence on the candidates and parties - in order to win a general election, you have to move to the center or pick a candidate who represents this position. The Democrats and Republicans aren’t nearly as different as opposing parties in parliamentary systems.

Another big reason wacko fringe parties can’t get anywhere in the American system - and thank goodness. A system of pure genius.

I don’t want to become the angry liberal one of the other posts mention, but I disagree…I think our system is one of the weakest simply because it forces the voter to compromise so drastically when deciding on a candidate. Republicans tend to be both fiscally and socially conservative; Democrats tend to be the exact opposite. My father, for instance, is a liberal from a social standpoint, but conservative when it comes to fiscal policies. He is then therefore forced to choose between the two, and that is a flaw.

The third party vote is important, I feel, in that it demonstrates just how disillusioned and angry certain voters are. In elections considered as clutch for both parties as this one is, a third party candidate will get no votes and no attention, and ultimately, the voters will choose to vote for the existing party that mirrors their philosophy as closely as possible and attempt to work within those confines, as someone mentioned earlier.

I don’t want to vote for Kerry, but I’d rather stab myself in the eye will a dull stick rather than vote for Bush. Some choice.

Just my two cents (and I ain’t angry)…

A third party candidate can, however play a spoiler in elections

In 1980 - John Anderson captured a large % of votes for a third party. The election was a runaway - but had the distance between Carter and Reagan been closer, it would have made a difference.

In 1992, H. Ross Perot made sure that Bush41 was a single term president.

Nader, although he probably received fewer votes than the aforementioned candidates, made a critical difference in the outcome of 2000.

I agree with thunder - a 2 party system, more importantly an electoral college, protects against the possibility of a dictator rising to power,and preserves the value of the votes cast in fly-over country.

Our friend Hillary Clinton is proposing the abolishment of the electoral college. Let’s hope that never happens.

I would reckon the Dems and Republicans would take notice if all those voting for the lesser of two evils or were not voting at all, actually voted third party.

It would also definately affect the election.

For you conservatives out there sick of George W’s garbage check out www.michaelperoutka.com

Dustin

Peroutka in 04

A vote for Peroutka is a vote for Kerry. Don’t delude yourself.

It would really be like a half a vote for kerry right?

I say I should run for president, and everyone on t-mag can be my campaign managers. Waddya say everyone? :wink:

I am the most qualified since I am currently a prince. Being president would probably be pretty easy.

Vegita ~ Prince of all Sayajins

Correction on the website. It should be www.peroutka2004.com.

Doogie,

I can’t bring myself to vote for Bush. The “guest worker program” with Mexico, which basically gave millions of border jumpers amnesty was the last straw for me.

I’m so fed up with both Democrats and Republicans I could care less who wins. I voting who I think would do best.

Besides, how much worse can Kerry be than Bush. I seriously don’t know if we as country would be worse off with Kerry at the helm.

The only time Republicans act like themselves is when there is a Democrat in office. Otherwise, they just sit there with fake smiles and nod their heads as if G.W. is doing swell. It makes me sick, quite frankly.

Dusty

Peroutka in 04

I think third parties are a good thing in that they serve to broaden the scope of a very narrowly defined political spectrum. They definitely should be given more media face time. It would further open the debate about what the role of government should be in our lives. With the current system, it seems that voters are essentially told, within a certain range of “right” to “left,” what the boundaries are, with little hope of changing them. There seems to be little real difference between the two parties anymore. I’ll discuss Bush, since I voted for him. That crazy “right wing extremist” claims to be fighting a war on terror, while at the same time he leaves the borders wide open and entertains allowing illegal immigrants, who are responsible for a great deal of the crime in this country, to have drivers’ licenses and free money, and allows Vicente Fox to dictate our policy regarding the Mexican border. He recently proposed mental health screening for all US citizens. Can anyone say Stalinist Russia? I wonder just who will be defined as “mentally ill” and what will be done with them. He claims to be a champion of the Constitution while signing into law the greatest assault on free speech in history. I believe he shows by his actions that is beholden to the idea of global government and is not committed to US sovereignty. Neither is Kerry, of course. As the parties increasingly become one giant blob of socialism, there is a growing need for alternative voices on all sides. Ralph Nader in the debates? Hell, yes! I won’t vote for him of course, but he really does deserve the chance to make his case. Same with Pat Buchanan or whoever else. I have to ask myself just what are these establishment hacks and their media myrmidons afraid of? I think if the Libertarian and constitution parties were allowed their say to the degree the Demicans and Republicrats are the political landscape would be altered for the better. I also think the “right” and “left” might find a lot more common ground than they currently do. Rainjack, I’m not so sure the electoral college completely eliminates the possibility of another party in the race, since it’s just a matter of who wins the states that total the most electoral votes, right? Can you please clarify?

Jon,

“…it forces the voter to compromise…”

Precisely the point, Jon. Compromise is intended, so radical ideologues can’t aggregate too much power. The idea is debate, go back and forth, moderate, and compromise.

It’s not an accident in US politics.

I pondered this question myself when I first thought about voting for a third party during the last presidential election. After researching the various views on this issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that voting for a third party is NOT a wasted vote, and in fact the only time a vote is wasted is when no vote is cast at all. I voted for a third party last time, and will again during the upcoming election. My reasons for this are several:

  1. Neither the Democrat nor the Republican platforms are even remotely close to my political viewpoints. Since my one vote can’t possibly affect the outcome of the election, why would I vote for the “lesser or two evils” when I can vote for someone who represents a party much much closer to my own particular views? At least my opinion is then formally recorded through the voting process.

2)Giving my support to a third party gives that third party a little more credibility by way of votes received. More credibility means more people, especially those voting for “the lesser of two evils” or not at all, will take notice of the third party the next time around, and vote for them, again incrementally increasing the party’s credibility and continuing the cycle for the next election. The point is not to get the candidate elected during the current election (which would be nice), but to incrementally and cyclically increase the credibility of the third party until reaching a point in the future whereby the third party is indeed viable and does stand a legimate chance of winning an election. If you think this doesn’t work, then ponder for a moment why the Democrats are making such a big fuss over Ralph Nader.

  1. The two big parties love the “wasted vote” argument because it is in fact a self-fulfilling prophecy. If everyone believes that their vote will be wasted on a third party, then no one would ever vote for a third party, and hence there would never be any challenges to the two big parties. However, if everyone in the country who is:

a) Planning on voting on one party simply because they hate the other party more, or

b) Not voting at all because the hate both parties equally.

would vote for a third party, it would greatly legitimize third parties, which takes us back to point #2.

Here’s a good article with a more in depth analysis of the “Wasted Vote” Myth:

http://aggressive-voice.com/zz404.html

I urge anyone planning to vote for “the lesser of two evils” or not at all to research the third party options and vote for one. Lets face it, the current system is seriously broken, and its time to give another party a shot at running the country.

Actually, the electoral college allowed Bush43 into the White House, despite the popular vote (with his suspension of several civil rights, he is as close to a dictator as we’re likely to see). The college was based on the idea that the populace was incapable of making an informed decision (not an unfair assumption in the 18th century). [One might argue that nearly 50% of the votes being cast for Bush supports the idea that the populace is incapable of making of good decison, but that is another argument.] It’s no longer fair to make that assumption, no matter how much you might disagree with your neighbor.

If we are to become a true democracy, the College must be abolished in favor of one person, one vote. This is the first step toward a multi-party system, where other views become viable. Otherwise, we will merely see the continuation of the two parties merging into one corporate-owned mega-party.

whlcrow,

“If we are to become a true democracy…”

We’re not trying to become a democracy - we’re a republic. And we should stay that way.

“It’s no longer fair to make that assumption”

It is absolutely fair to make that assumption - the American system was built to defend against the tyranny of the majority just as much as against the tyranny of the tyrant.

The government you suggest - government by the herd mentality - will produce a government of the quality of pop culture. No thanks.

“…with his suspension of several civil rights, he is as close to a dictator as we’re likely to see)…”

Utter garabge, and unsubstantiated nonsense. If you are referring to the Patriot Act, be prepared to defend your claims and produce actual grievances.

Bush is no dictator, not even close. Go live under a dictator and you’ll stop taking your freedoms for granted - and you’ll stop whining about illusions of an American dictatorship.

The American system does a great job of pushing tin-foil headed ideologues to the fringe. Such moderation is essential to preserving a republic - there’s a reason there’s judicial review, a bicameral legislature, and an executive that is the only position voted on by the entire populace at once.

The system works exaclty as designed, imo. That the parties are generally lapdogs for special interest money is more a function of our lack of adhering to our responsibilty in government - the civic audit, whcih requires education, virtue, and effort.

A nation of reality TV watchers and worshippers of MTV generally don’t pull that trifecta. Such is the danger of affluence.

[quote]wlhcrow wrote:
The college was based on the idea that the populace was incapable of making an informed decision (not an unfair assumption in the 18th century).[/quote]

Actually that isn’t quite true. The electoral college was implemented to prevent densely populated areas from dominating elections. For example, if there were no electoral college, New York, LA, Chicago, Seattle, and other large cities would dominate the elections, thus virtually guaranteeing a leftist in office at all times (whether or not someone thinks that’s a good thing). And as far as being informed, I think people were far better informed about government and its established role in everyday life in the early years of this country than people are now, because they were taught to understand it clearly. For example, the Federalist Papers used to be common educational material in American schools. Nowadays, they are “too hard” to comprehend and are only studied at the finest law schools.

thunderbolt23,

excellent post.

Bandgeek,

That’s a great point. The Federalist Papers were circulated in newspapers trying to make a case for a federal constitution.

If they were circulated in newspapers today, the general public would either be confounded by them or ignore them because of a short attention span.

To assume that we in the present day are of an automatically higher education is faulty. We certainly have higher access to information, but do we have more knowledge?

The only thing I want to add to this post, which is off-topic and I apologize, is that unfortunately, they aren’t generally studied at the “finest” law schools, which are often devoted to teaching what the professors think the Constitution should say, rather than what the founders intended it to say.

I vote 3rd party because I vote my conscious. What I don’t get are the people who say they want to vote 3rd party but become afraid and then vote for the lesser of two evils. Well you still get evil and the difference is NEGLIGIBLE! The 2 major parties love the “lesser of two evils” arguemnt because it keeps you voting for them. It let’s them hold onto what they really want, which is power and money. So whattaya say people! Vote your conscious and be sucka-free in 04’.