2016 Presidential Election: Catch 22

By Asha Christensen, 11th grade

Why supporting a Third Party Candidate may not be the worst thing

There has always been one simple rule to voting in America’s elections- vote for the person you support. This may seem straightforward and sort of redundant, but it seems to be something that American voters have lost sight of. In the 2016 elections, rather than voting for the person who should be President, we are voting against the person who shouldn’t. The United States is at a crossroads, faced with two paths that lead nowhere good.  Though any prospect of voting for a third party candidate might seem ridiculous, going against the bipartisan system of U.S. politics may be the best decision in 2016. So when faced with the dilemma inside the ballot box, remember: there is an alternative, and his name is Governor Gary Johnson.

For those of you who don’t know about America’s salvation, Gary Johnson is the best of both worlds. He’s fiscally conservative and liberal on the social issues. He is both the modern Republican and modern Democrat- infinitely more central on the issues than Trump or Clinton. Not only that, but he has experience too. From 1995-2003, Johnson served as the Governor of New Mexico. One of his main platforms is limiting the size of government, working towards true Capitalist ideals, and stopping America’s unsustainable $20 trillion sized debt problem. As a Left Wing Libertarian myself, the idea of President Johnson is easy to swallow, though I understand why others are not so easily convinced. Voting Libertarian in 2016 may sound absurd, but doing so is falling back on one of the core principles our country was based upon. This election doesn’t have to be about voting for the lesser of two evils, but voting for the person who will best fill the position of Commander in Chief.

That person may not be a Republican or Democrat, and not affiliating with either party may just be the new norm. According to a Party Affiliation Study by Pew Research Center, the percentage of people who identify as Independent outnumber the Democrats or Republicans. In 2014, 39% identified as Independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans comparatively. We are witnessing a dramatic rise in citizens without a party affiliation, as in 2004, Independent voters were at 30%, smaller than the self-proclaimed Democrats of that year.

Frankly, the argument against voting for a third party candidate has been the same for every Presidential Election. There is no way they are going to win, so your vote is effectively wasted. Some aspects of this are true: we do have an electoral college. Even if a candidate wins the popular vote, they could still lose, evident by Al Gore vs. George Bush. In U.S. Politics, it’s winner take all. In 48 out of the 50 states (plus three electors for Washington D.C.) have winner-takes-all electorate rules. For example, if this year 49% of people in the State of Texas vote Democrat, and 51% vote Republican, then all 38 electoral votes go to Trump. It’s a system that has famously deterred Independent Candidates, because the voting becomes regionalized. But the goal may not be to get 270 votes, but rather just one state. A hypothetical by J.C. Derrick explains the numbers in an article through World Magazine:

“Consider this scenario: Trump and Clinton represent the major parties in November, and most states mirror 2012 results, but Trump adds wins in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and New Hampshire. Those 64 electoral votes would put Trump at 270 and Clinton at 268. But suppose, for example, Rick Perry runs on a third-party ticket and manages to win his home state with its 38 electoral votes. He would deprive both candidates of the requisite 270-vote majority and throw the outcome to the U.S. House of Representatives, which would choose the next president from among the top three contenders.”

Now, obviously Rick Perry isn’t the man for the job, but Gary Johnson just may be. In order to allow the House of Representatives to choose the results of an election, a Third Party Candidate just needs to claim one major state. The House of Representatives is supposed to vote for the candidate with the most Electoral Votes; however, there are no laws against faithless electors in 26 states, according to the Fair Vote Organization. This is enough to completely go against the Electoral College, considering that despite the House of Representatives being primarily Republican, Trump is anti-establishment and Gary Johnson’s political ideology resonates with other Republicans. The aim is to have just enough support in one state in order to then get the entire state. Though this may sound simple, it is unprecedented and the hypothetical is a long shot; snatching just one state from both parties is near impossible for a third party candidate.

Why impossible, you may ask? People believe that if you vote for a candidate who has no chance in winning, you are wasting your vote. Due to this, there isn’t much support for a third party. Then, people see the little support and reinforce the fact that they have no chance in winning. When polls suggest that one candidate is pulling ahead from another, more people jump on the winning team; this is called the Bandwagon Effect. The problem is that voters avoid Third Party candidates like the plague: no one votes for them because no one votes for them. The circular logic of Catch 22 goes on and on. Meanwhile, a study of Third Parties in the history of American Politics, Third-Party and Independent Candidates in American Politics: by Wallace, Anderson, and Perot found that the aversion to voting Third Party in three example elections (1968, 1980 and 1992) was largely psychological. Third Parties aren’t expected to win, so no one votes for them, causing them not to win; the only way to break circular logic is situational enlightenment. According to the Fiscal Times, if there is any opportunity for a third party to gain ground, it is in the 2016 Presidential Election of only bad choices. And with Johnson not having the 15% popular vote (8.6%) to join in the General Debate, my hopes are resting on the possibility that enough people will wander into the ballot boxes on November 8th, and will be enlightened with the options they’d never thought possible. Just maybe, a miracle will happen: enough people will vote Gary Johnson to overcome the Electoral College that is stacked against Third Parties, thereby freeing America from the potentially catastrophic 2016-2020 Presidential Term.

So before Election Day, remember that there is another option. A Libertarian win in the polls is only impossible because we believe it is. Take a minute to peek into Gary Johnson’s stance on the issues, and do not let fear of wasting your vote deter you from making the only right decision in this horror show of an election. In the words of Johnson himself, “I heard from many that they didn’t want to waste their vote, [but] wasting your vote is voting for someone that you don’t believe in”.

In no way, shape or form do the opinions expressed in this article reflect the opinions of Imagine International Academy of North Texas or the Rising Dragon News publication. Student writers are encouraged to use the ‘Opinion’ section of our publication as a platform to speak their voices and publish their work

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