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For Those Thinking Voting Third Party….

October 18, 2016

Hat Tip to Doug.

From Seth’s Blog

Ross Perot, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Clinton, cost Bush that election. The people who voted for Perot got Clinton, and it’s pretty clear that the Republicans learned nothing from this, as the next winning candidate they nominated was… George Bush.

Ralph Nader, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Gore, cost Gore that election. The people who voted for Nader got Bush, and it’s pretty clear that the Democrats learned nothing from this, as the next person they nominated was… John Kerry.

[I’m calling it a ‘problem’ because I have such huge respect for people who care enough and are passionate enough to support change. The problem is that since Gus Hall, and then John Anderson and then the more recent candidates, just about all the changes that third parties have tried to bring to national politics have foundered. It just isn’t a useful way to market change in this country.]

If enough people spent enough time, day after day, dollar after dollar, we could fundamentally alter the historic two-party system we have in the US. But it’s been shown, again and again, that the easy act of letting oneself off the hook by simply voting for a third-party candidate accomplishes nothing.

The marketing of the third-party candidate is: Teach those folks a lesson, plus, you’re not on the hook for what happens. But…

No one in government is learning a lesson.

And you don’t even get who you voted for.

The irony is not lost on me. A small group of voters who care a great deal are spending psychic energy on a vote that undermines the very change they seek to make. 

It’s a self-defeating way of letting yourself off the hook, but of course, you’re actually putting yourself on the hook, just as you do if you don’t vote at all

  1. purplepenquin permalink
    October 21, 2016 9:57 AM

    Claiming that voting outside for the two major parties is akin to not voting at all is an incredibly ignorant statement to make, and shows a lack of understanding of US history and our political process. Woman suffrage, child labor laws, 40-hour work week, Social Security, and both the passage and repeal of Prohibition all came about due to many people “wasting their vote” on a third party.

  2. Solly permalink
    October 18, 2016 10:04 PM

    I was going to let this post pass, but then I thought about the old saw that “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Thanks to Comrade Lenin. No matter how many times party hacks say it, no matter how many times it appears on CP, Ralph Nader did not cost Al Gore the election in 2000. By the way, I consider it known misinformation, not a lie, and I don’t think Deke is a party hack. A boring, play it safe campaign, a “people can’t be stupid enough to vote for Bush attitude,” the tactic to run away from the successful record of an administration he was number 2 in (heh, heh, I said number 2), the wonderful judgement in choosing a kosher weiner for a running mate (who later endorsed John McCain over Barrack Obama) and the know it all sigh-ing manner of Al Gore beat Al Gore.
    I corrected the record on CP here: “A previous commenter on your blog did a pretty good job disproving the idea that Nader cost Gore the election in 2000. So when I read you repeating the same idea by Paul Fanlund (a not very good writer for the Cap Times) it smacks of Faux News repeating what they know is not true to support a weak argument. Here is the pertinent comment: “and in West Virginia, which the Dems carried in 14 out of 17 elections since 1932, except for the Ike, Nixon and Reagan landslides, Shrub won by 41,000 and Nader had 10,000 votes and wasn’t a factor. Bore would have won with those electoral votes. Or, Bore’s home state of Tennessee, which Shrub won by 80,000 votes and Nader took 19,000+. But to cherry pick one state’s results and blame it on Nader voters in Florida is kinda piss poor and disingenuous analysis. Plus the fact that Buchanan most likely took 17,500 votes from Bush, more than the margin of victory in Florida. But, the people who engineer blah candidates and then tell voters to choose Tweedle Dee or lump it like to deflect responsibility. To put a finer point on it, one of the reasons generally given for Gore losing WV, AR, TN, OH, NH and some others (as well as losing the House and Senate) was the gun control measures implemented during the Clinton terms. ”
    Now to this post, the author repeats the misinformation. But he is right on a couple of things. The major parties don’t learn. After nominating Poppy Bush, they came back with offering the American People the tax collector for the welfare state (as Newtie called him) Dole. After the Democrats lost with wooden Al Gore, they came back with wind-surfin, good to be with you at “Lambert Field” in Green Bay and I voted for the war before I voted against it man of the people the wooden John Kerry. Oh please, I can’t wait to vote for them.
    I also disagree with the author’s premise that by voting for a third party, you are wasting your vote and not getting the change you seek. Two great examples. Ross Perot’s major campaign issue was the national debt and deficit spending. He prodded both major party candidates to pledge to do something about it, and by running again in 96 kept the heat on. What happened at the end of Clinton’s term? The budget was balanced and on a trajectory to eliminate a good portion of the national debt.
    The second example is our own Bob LaFollette who ran as a Progressive in 1924. Many of his ideas were implemented in the New Deal. From the Democratic Underground: “Robert LaFollette’s ideas offered in the 1924 election would be radical even today, considered much too “socialist.” He believed large corporations had taken over the federal government, so he proposed government ownership of the railroads, public control of the country’s natural resources, and a “house-cleaning” of the executive branch of the federal government. He captured his home state of Wisconsin in the general election, making him one of the most successful third party candidates of the century. He showed that there was vote potential in the coalition of farm, labor and immigrant blocs. Appealing to a similar combination of interests, and softening the radical nature of the LaFollette Progressive agenda, Franklin Roosevelt built his New Deal coalitions, and went on to win an unprecedented four elections in a row.”
    Yes, maybe you don’t get your candidate elected immediately, but often the major parties absorb their ideas. We don’t get what the major party candidate promise either, as evidenced by the gap between the 1% and the 99 greater under Obama than before he took office and him backing down on issue after issue.

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