This election, as much as others in the past, has been about lies, minority targeting, and emotional blackmail. I won’t say that these factors were more in play in this election than in previous elections, because I don’t believe that they were, however I think that it’s remarkable how much all of those negative aspects have been streamlined for our delivery and consumption. I think that the media is flapping loose in a gale, around without any sort of check or moral responsibility to tie it down and that is definitely a talk that we’re all going to have to have at a later date, preferably sometime within the next four years.
But what has been surprising to me is the animosity and brow-beating that both sides of the political spectrum have been giving to one of America’s least supported minorities–the third party voter. They have faced animosity on both fronts and twice have I heard people say within my earshot that “a vote for a third party is basically a vote for Trump/Clinton, so if you want them to win, go ahead and vote third party.” This simply is not true. It really is as simple as this: a vote for a third party is a vote for that third party. The math is simple: if everyone votes for a third party, then that third party gets in–not one of the other two. Any other point of view is emotional blackmail.
Here’s another reason why a more-than-two-party system makes sense. It has been said many times in the past months that America is becoming more and more polar, that the extremes have never been as extreme. And so, with a country that is having much wider opinions on how the country should be run–why should we not have more political parties to represent those views? If a person is feeling completely alienated by the extremity of their own party, then why not join a party that is more in the center? Conversely, if someone feels that their own party is not far-reaching enough, why should they feel obligated to stay in that party? Several times I have been in conversations with people who have been urging others to vote their party, not their conscience, and this is truly opposite to the very purpose of democracy. If we don’t vote our consciences for what is best for the country, that what other consideration is there upon which to make a decision?
When I was living in the UK I generally supported the Labour Party. However, in the last UK election I felt that my party was not the party that it used to be, that too many compromises and concessions had been made to appear populist and that they had strayed too far from what I wanted them to be. After a little research I found another party whose economic and social policies I felt more aligned with my own and so I voted for them on election day. I say this to make it clear: this was not a protest vote–I genuinely wanted the Green Party to win, even though I knew they had little chance of doing so. Come the election result, the Green Party made no sweeping victory, but they did receive more votes that year than any other year to date, by a factor of five. In the 2010 election they achieved 1% of the vote, in the 2015 they achieved 5%. The Labour Party on the other hand did not win the election and their leadership basically folded, prompting a period of reflection and revaluation, and from that a party leader was selected who really excited a lot of party members, myself included. I feel like I have never identified with a party political candidate as I have with Jeremy Corbyn, and in future elections, if he is on the ballot then I am back with that party. So I feel that my third party vote in that instance was certainly not wasted. So just because your candidate does not win, your voice is still being heard.
There are many lies about third party voting, and people will emotionally blackmail you not to do it–they will say that you will not count, that you won’t be heard, and that you will be the reason that the democratic system breaks down. But if you are convicted not to vote for one of the two main parties, then by no means should you feel obligated to do so. Voting for who you want to run the country is the very definition of democracy, giving in to pressure to vote for someone that you don’t want to run the country is opening the door to fascism.
I have not been a third party voter in this election, but I believe that a third party voter should be valued and listened to, and not treated as a terrorist or anarchist who is looking to sabotage or break the electoral system, but someone who is inherent to it.