Don’t Waste Your Vote on a Third-Party Candidate


Gary Johnson is a third-party candidate running on the Libertarian ticket in the 2016 presidential election. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By John Christen

Gary Johnson is a third-party candidate running on the Libertarian ticket in the 2016 presidential election. (Courtesy of Flickr)
Gary Johnson is a third-party candidate running on the Libertarian ticket in the 2016 presidential election. (Courtesy of Flickr)

The 2016 presidential race is ugly. On the right, Donald Trump slouches upon a tacky golden throne, a man who has been accused of sexual assault several times this month. Across the aisle on the left sits Hillary Clinton, a woman who put our country’s security at risk by using a private email server during her time as secretary of state.

Although one of these candidates is the most qualified presidential candidate to ever run and the other is a tax-evading misogynist, there are still millions of frustrated Americans who are unsure which of these two candidates will receive their vote on Nov. 8, if they will even enter the voting booth at all. However, what these Americans do not realize is that voting for a third-party candidate is essentially the same as not voting whatsoever.

The natural inclinations of voters equally dissatisfied with both sides of the ticket are either to not vote at all or vote for a third-party candidate. Enter the Libertarian candidate Gary “What is Aleppo?” Johnson and the Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
In Gary Johnson’s New York Times op-ed appropriately titled “Take a Deep Breath Voters. There is a Third Way,” he simultaneously emphasizes and downplays the traditional “fiscally conservative” and “socially liberal” foundation of the Libertarian party to attract more voters. According to Johnson, the five most important things about his presidency would be a “real balanced budget” to check the growth of the federal government spending waste, a focus on protecting “the Constitution and civil liberties,” with special attention paid to the societal benefits of immigration and his pro-choice abortion stance, a “free trade to all nations” and “attack only when attacked” foreign policy attitude.

Libertarianism has always been a welcome compromise for socially progressive Republican moderates or fiscally conservative Democrats. Moreover, Gary Johnson’s positive campaign is a bright light in the treacherous cave that is the 2016 election.
Then there is Green Party Candidate Jill Stein. According to its critics, the Green Party’s consistent message has been “Earth before country.” On her campaign’s website, the first bullet point of Stein’s platform reads: “Initiate a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history.”

I do not disagree with Stein here as the climate change threat is imminent. Nevertheless, it is impossible to mobilize a competitive number of American voters with a platform like this, especially since a CNN poll in January 2015 found that “57 percent of Americans did not expect global warming to affect their way of life.” This statistic is discouraging, but it is an ideological reality of this election.

The third party candidates are the alternative to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and they are gaining a minority amount of support. According to a Gallup survey, they have polled as high as 15 percent collectively, but this statistic along with the positive things about both third-party candidates’ campaigns are irrelevant.

Voting for a third-party candidate is throwing away your vote because it produces the same result as not voting at all. Essentially, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each receive half your vote. A third-party vote in a presidential election is meaningless aside from your own moral satisfaction.

In our two-party political system, third-party candidates simply cannot win, due to our electoral-vote elections in which all but two states award all of their electoral votes to the candidate that amasses the largest plurality of voters on Election Day. By voting for a third-party candidate, you are betting that your candidate will receive a larger percentage of votes than either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The political polarity of most states will not allow this to happen.

Low voter turnout and large major-party supporter bases allow for the dominance of the Democratic and Republican parties. Until our two-party political system changes, you need to swallow your pride, forget your protest vote and vote for one of the two major-party candidates who you think can lead this country. Otherwise, you are part of the problem.

John Christen, FCRH ’19, is undeclared in his major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.