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October 31, 2016

Op-Ed: A Vote for a 3rd Party Candidate Is a Vote for Trump

Not that you'd be able to tell from most of the nightly newscasts, but there are actually four candidates running for president nationally. Everyone knows Trump and Clinton, but there's also Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, neither of whom has polled more than 10 percent in any recent national poll. Now, it's true that one of the reasons Johnson and Stein are polling so poorly is that the mainstream news media hasn't paid them much attention, preferring to focus on the daily Trump meltdowns and screw-ups—hey, if it bleeds, it leads, right?—and the constant right-wing attacks on Clinton—as if her using a non-government email server or even steering donations toward her Clinton Foundation is somehow comparable in any rational way to the psychopathy of a man who wants to build a 2,000 mile wall between the U.S. and Mexico, won't rule out dropping a nuclear bomb on some country he doesn't like, and who's spent the past couple of weeks fomenting a revolution among his supporters if he doesn't win the election! (He's also not real good with women.) Of course, the other reason the media has spent so much time on Trump and Clinton is that they're both "corporate candidates": Each has a wide range of support from corporations and billionaires (and in Trump's case, the Religious Right as well) who fully expect that if their preferred candidate gets into the highest office in the land, the favors and favorable treatment for themselves and their friends will flow—and frankly, there's little doubt that that will happen (unless, of course, Trump blows us all up first). American elections could certainly benefit by having a multitude of political parties offering a multitude of candidates with a variety of different views on topics of major concern. The problem is how to get to that happy outcome, and the road to that is far from clear. In the U.K., for example, although small areas of Scotland, Ireland and Wales have elected representatives from such "minor" parties as the Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Sinn Féin, the Plaid Cymru (Wales), the Green Party of England and Wales, and a few others, elections are still dominated by the Conservative and Unionist Party, the Labor Party and the relatively new UK Independence Party, which make up the lion's share of parliamentary representatives. Meanwhile at least two dozen other minor parties have managed to elect representatives to city and state governmental bodies—and hey, who doesn't miss the Church of the Militant Elvis Party, the Fancy Dress Party and the Raving Loony Green Giant Party? But the point is, what with the United States' current two-party system, which provides a structure within which the country's ruling elite (aka "The 1%" which has/controls massive bank accounts—hell, massive banks themselves—and large corporations) can more easily manage the multitude of "representatives" they've already paid for, the chances of a third party—any third party—gaining a foothold in the election process here approaches zero. Things might be a bit better if Congress passed a law declaring that corporations are in fact not people, and don't share the same rights as actual people, but the chances of that are equally poor. Bottom line: No third-party candidate will be elected president of the United States in the foreseeable future—and certainly not this year. Hence, any vote for a third-party candidate will count against the front-running candidate (Clinton) and for the less popular challenger (let's just call him "Asshole"). But ... but ... but ... what if I want to cast a "protest vote" because I don't like either the Democrat or Republican nominee, you ask? Well, let's think about that ... and look at the platform of the candidate you're considering voting for. Let's start with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, and let's say you're a normal person who works for a living but is having trouble making ends meet, or a student/recent grad facing massive college/grad school debt, or a woman who's not so happy about getting paid less than 80 percent what a man is paid for doing the same job. Gary Johnson's response: Too bad! See, Johnson is a strong believer in "free market" (read: corporate) solutions to environmental and other problems, advocating shrinking the size of the federal government, cutting Medicare and Medicaid, eliminating the Department of Education altogether, as well as the IRS, all individual, corporate and capital gains taxes and instead imposing a "federal consumption tax" that would disproportionately affect lower-income individuals and families since they spend the vast majority of their income on food and other necessities, while the rich make their fortunes through low or untaxed stock trading and investments. He's also against labor unions and requiring kids to get vaccinated before attending public schools. Yeah, he's got socially liberal ideas on same-sex marriage, abortion, prostitution and even porn, but rest assured, people won't be able to afford any of those once he's through cutting social safety nets, privatizing Social Security and "reducing the size of the federal government." So what about the Green Party's Jill Stein? One can certainly applaud her stances on a $15 minimum wage, making colleges tuition free, single-payer healthcare, and more regulation of Wall Street, but she's a believer in "voluntary" vaccination programs for school kids (she wrongly thinks vaccines may cause autism), she supported the "Brexit" vote before she bowed to political pressure and opposed it, and despite supposedly opposing the creation of GMO foods, she's heavily invested in that industry through her shares in Vanguard Group, which owns a lot of Monsanto stock. Certainly, of the two third-party candidates, Stein is the better one, but the point is, neither one of them can win, so a vote for either is essentially a vote for the major party candidate you don't like! BTW, one last thought: any member of Congress who refuses to hold hearings on Supreme Court nominees should be impeached.

 
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