I’m a big supporter of the Green Party; I’ve attended Green Party meetings and voted for Green Party candidates, even in Presidential elections. I’ve always believed that you should vote your conscience if you ever want anything to change.
However, we have a winner-take-all system of elections. We don’t have a parliamentary system that would allow 4% of Congress to be Green if 4% of us voted for the Green Party. Instead, if 4% of us vote Green, the government could be taken over by Donald Trump and a band of alt-right extremists.
We should have a parliamentary system. We should have instant run-off elections, where voters are free to vote for a third party knowing that if it doesn’t get a majority, their 2nd choice candidate will receive their vote. We should also get rid of the electoral college. These are all reforms that third parties should fight for. But they have to do it from local and state offices and sometimes, although extremely difficult, US congressional offices.
The system has to be reformed, but it can’t be reformed if we are putting our energies and votes into the Presidential race where we may end up feeling good about our individual vote while living in an increasingly repressive country where the reforms we seek slip further and further away.
Until we have a proportional democracy, where we could build a stronger presence in Congress year after year, it makes no sense to vote for a third party for President. Because let’s face it, there’s a big difference between a Clinton presidency, that may be mediocre and supportive of the status quo, and the chaos of a Trump presidency.
One could make the argument that by helping to throw the election to Trump, we would force the Democrats to pay more attention to the issues important to, say the Green party in order for them to win those voters back. But, regardless of whether the Democrats actually took that lesson to heart, I just don’t agree with the morality of punishing the Democrats by punishing the entire world with a Trump regime.
I have to admit that my decision has been made easier this time around because I find the third party candidates much less compelling, and even less able to articulate their party’s platforms, than in previous years. But even if someone with a consistent message I agreed with, such as Ralph Nader were running, I don’t think that I could take the risk this time. It’s just too scary. Every election, we are told that this is the most important election in our lifetimes by the candidates, in order to drum up enthusiasm. But this time, it’s true.
And now for something completely different (click):