Leo Brian Schafer
The last time a United States presidential election was won by a candidate not representing the Democrat or Republican parties was 1848. The last time a “third-party” candidate won the popular vote of a single state was 1968. The last time a “third-party” candidate won more than 5% of the national popular vote was 1996.
The sad reality is that a third-party candidate has as much chance of getting to the oval office as a snowball has of surviving 10 minutes in hell.
All conventional reason says that casting your vote for the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the American Solidarity Party, or any other third party has as much value as standing at a cliff and shouting your vote into the abyss.
All conventional reason, that is.
In the 2016 election, spurred on by the incredible unpopularity of the major party candidates, more people than ever voted for a third party. Third parties have seen monumental gains in local and state elections, either beating one major party or winning outright in over 1,000 single elections since then.
More and more people are seeing the value in voting with your conscience, not necessarily with strategy in mind.
What reasons, then, are there to vote for a third party?
Well, what reasons are there to vote? The reasons to vote third party are the reasons to vote in general.
You vote because you believe in something. You vote because you believe in something enough to declare that you believe in it, and to actually get up out of bed on a Tuesday morning to make it happen.
Why would you waste that on a cause you don’t actually believe in?
The very notion that voting third party doesn’t matter and is a waste because your candidate can’t win is preposterous. Strong third parties, parties that people vote for, directly influence the policy decisions of major parties.
When the Liberal Democrat Party had a strong showing in the 2019 U.K. elections to the European Parliament, the U.K. Labour Party adopted many of their platform planks to appeal to LibDem defectors.
In the United States, third parties have not been able to wield this scale of influence (yet), but when socialist outsider Bernie Sanders made waves in the 2016 democratic primary election, the party had to make a strong leftward swing or risk losing that voter base.
When Republican Representative Justin Amash defected to the Libertarian party, his former party was forced to add concessions on their platform.
But every time I vote third party, I lose my vote, right? That’s what everyone keeps telling me.
Put it like this. I am an unabashed Minnesota Vikings fan. Every game, every year, no matter their record or standing in the league, I will stand by that team until the day I die.
Telling me that I “lose my vote” when I vote for a candidate that has no chance of winning is like telling me I “lose a season” every time I stand by my team when they go 2-14 and finish in the bottom of the league.
Really, unless I cheer for the eventual Super Bowl champions, unless I vote for the guy that wins the election, I lose my vote? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of voting? If you step into the voting booth and vote for someone you don’t truly believe in because you don’t want to lose your vote, you already have.
If you are dissatisfied with the current order of American politics, the best way to build up alternatives, the best way to create a party that has a chance to win that you can actually support with confidence is to vote for that party, even if they don’t have that chance right now.
2020, in many ways, is the same situation as 2016. Both major party candidates are wildly unpopular. Both major party candidates have titanic flaws, in both their character and platform, of the nature that potentially disqualifies them for office. But there are alternatives.
Now is the time to vote your conscience. To take a moral stand in a political world that does not really care for morals. To stand up and say that you are not OK with the established state of things. To vote third party.
In any case, for the love of God, please vote on Nov. 3. There’s literally no reason not to.