Every American voter has the right to vote as he or she chooses. But if you’re supporting a third party candidate in the presidential election, then you don’t completely understand American politics. And worse, you may be throwing the election to Donald Trump, the way Ralph Nader threw the 2000 election to George Dubya Bush.
Until we change our electoral system, the inconvenient truth is that there are only two choices for the Oval Office – the Democratic and the Republican candidates. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Both have flaws that give voters significant concerns.
Choosing between the “lesser of two evils” is not a new phenomenon. Voters have been faced with this dilemma for decades.
The American presidential election system is fundamentally unfair. The way it is currently implemented locks in the two-party system and locks out other groups. Any third party that gains enough traction to garner even a few electoral votes has the high probability that the Electoral College will reach a deadlock and throw the contest into the House of Representatives in a scheme that is even more unbalanced than the Electoral College.
Exacerbating the problem is the fact that because the government is run by the two major parties, there’s no incentive to make it more viable for any third party. So while in an ideal world, it would be beneficial to have more than two choices, it’s not going to happen – at least not in the lifetime of any current voter.
Change must come from within. The 1994 takeover of the Republican Party by the Tea Party fundamentally transformed to GOP from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Selfishness. Voters who put the likes of Trey Gowdy and Louis Gohmert into power put their short-term greed of lowering taxes ahead of the American tradition of investing in infrastructure and education for future generations. On the other side of the aisle, the transformation of the Democratic party that was started by the Bernie Sanders movement was not successful in this election cycle, but is not dead yet. If congressional candidates like Zephyr Teachout in New York and Peter Jacob in New Jersey can be victorious, they can plant the seeds for a populist shift in the Democratic party.
Those people who rail about the lack of choice in the presidential election would be better off holding their collective noses and voting for Hillary Clinton, while at the same time working hard at the grassroots level to transform the Democratic party the same way the Tea Party radicals did to the GOP.
If you’re disillusioned with American politics (and few aren’t) and decide to vote for a third party because you’re “making a statement”, it might make you feel good. But on a macro level, you know you’re throwing away your vote. And maybe ceding the Oval Office to Donald Trump. The euphoria of voting your heart instead of your mind will be ephemeral, but the damage that a Trump presidency would inflict will be generational.