To Vote or Not To Vote for Third Parties

By
October 29, 2010

On Oct. 12, 2010, third party candidate Laura Wells — the official candidate for the Green Party — was arrested while attempting to participate in one of California’s gubernatorial debates. Rather than being granted inclusion and participation as a third party candidate, Wells was charged with “trespassing.”

The arrest of Laura Wells points to a larger problem in today’s mainstream political arena: the perpetual banishment of third parties to somewhere outside “real” politics. Most of us here at the Campanil agree that the current two-party system and its enforcement does not embody or represent the interests and needs of the country’s diverse citizenry.

Third parties are the essential ingredient in destabilizing the corrosive two-party political culture of America. The lack of options inherent in the current two party-centric system alienates citizens and voters, leaving their possible avenues of representation very narrow.

In theory, even if third parties are never elected, their presence brings different ideas and platforms to the table and is supposed to ensure that members of dominant parties remain accountable to their constituency. If their presence is prohibited — as in the case of Laura Wells — this accountabilty is diminished.

So if third party candidates are unlikely to be elected, should we vote for them anyway?

This is something many of us will be thinking about as we mark our ballots today. Given the current political climate, that vote may be considered “wasted,” yet some of us still feel compelled to vote for the candidate who closest matches our interests and needs, regardless of whether that candidate belongs to a third party.

Perhaps over time, voting for candidates who truly represent our interests may lead others to follow suit, creating a culture in which voting intelligently and authentically is more important than dejectedly choosing between brand A and brand B. After all, the inexorability of our two-candidate system is sustained by the public interest in ‘resisting the worst of the two.’

Here at The Campanil, we encourage you to consider the possibility of resisting both and choosing better.


To Vote or Not To Vote for Third Parties was published on October 29, 2010 in Editorial, Letters to the Editor, Opinions

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  • http://www.gp.org Morgen D’Arc

    Over the years, I have read hundreds of articles and comments about the third party vote being a wasted vote or a spoiler vote. Being that I do not vote for candidates of either of the Titanic parties, because their administrations are spoiling the country and wasting enormous amounts of public resources, I found this article to be one of the best. It is refreshing that it supports the value that third parties bring to this country and puts this question of third-party voting into better perspective.

    My third party of choice is the Green Party. Many of us know the two Titanic parties cannot be reformed. The Green Party in the U.S. was formed 26 years ago to address this and to provide the people of this country with another choice on the ballot that represented the concerns of many people who saw the Republican and Democratic Parties selling everyone out but the rich to make the rich so much richer and, of course, more powerful, so that there is much less chance of anything coming along, such as a third party, to diminish or threaten their power.

    Getting a third party, the Green Party, to the point of substantial wins in Congress or the White House will only become a reality when enough voters vote for Green candidates and stand up to the bullying of the major parties and their supporters telling you, as the voter, that your vote for a third party, the Green Party, is wasted or that it stinks (spoiler). As voters, you are given a vote. That vote represents everything you think of about yourself, your family, your friends, your community, your state and your country. When you give your vote as a result of bullying to candidates you don’t believe in when there are third party candidates you do believe in, that vote they bullied from you is wasted on them and it spoils your conscience. It also is a vote to keep the status quo in power. If that’s what you want, ok. But if it’s not what you want, it’s time to use your vote to reflect what you do want.

    Not only are third-party, Green Party, votes not wasted but they are more valuable than votes for the major parties. They are more valuable, because they help to grow Green Party numbers to become viable enough to win. Each new Green Party voter could be the one that makes the Green Party reach critical mass. Your vote for the Green Party could be that one that does it.

    The Green Party has been here for nearly three decades. Becoming a major party at the level of the Democrats and Republicans takes a long time. It is not an overnight deal. If you have Green Party candidates on your ballot, your vote could make a win, maybe not this time, but some time, and then you will be part of turning the tide, making history and seeing that you are capable of making change to this country, that our country does not have to follow in the footsteps of history where all powers and empires collapse. Our country is headed toward that historical trap. Is our vote wasted if we use it to prevent that?

    Voting third party, voting Green Party is making your vote more powerful for the good of this country, because you are voting for the future. Your votes will become the base on which the critical mass becomes the critical mass. How many times did you want to save money for something big? You put a little bit away. It takes a long time to get to where you want it to be to afford that something special. Along the way, people might tell you, *Aw, you’ll never get there. Spend it now. You can get this this and this.* But those things are not what you really want. You resist the temptation. You keep saving. One day you see that what you saved is beginning to get big and you see that you will reach your goal. Changing politics that have been locked in for centuries will take a lot of time, might and strength. It will only happen if we do it together and not let the big political powers bully us out of voting for a third party if we believe it will either help for the present or help for the future.

    All those votes the major parties bullied us out of before, those were the wasted votes. All those votes could have gone to build the third-party, the Green Party vote base. We can’t get to the future of new U.S. politics if they keep taking our third-party, Green Party votes away…