Opinion: third party voting, political statement or grave mistake?

by Cougar News Contributor 0

By Samantha Joson

It’s the night of the second debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Once again, they meet on stage to mostly discuss Clinton’s emails and Trump’s mystery tax returns and maybe, if we get lucky, policy.

“That is sexual assault. Do you understand that?” asks Anderson Cooper, referring to the leaked 2005 audio of Trump’s “locker room talk.”

“I will knock the hell out of ISIS.” I sigh as Trump falls right back into his tired excuse of “I have great respect for [insert person/group of people he blatantly disrespected]. Nobody has more respect for [insert person/group of people again] than I do.”

Hillary Clinton stands calmly, lips permanently molded into a benign smile. I wonder if, for part of her debate preparations, she had to practice constantly smiling while Trump clumsily avoids questions. I also wonder if she knows she isn’t fooling the millions of Americans who’ve made up their minds against her into thinking she’s trustworthy.

Not soon enough, the debate ends and I find that I have to force myself to relax because I had unknowingly been cringing the entire time.

As “South Park” so artfully puts it, our great nation’s two major presidential candidates have been dwindled down to “a giant douche” and “a turd sandwich.” Explaining why one of those options is definitely the lesser evil of the two calls for a whole other editorial.

This one is for those who are set on not voting for either one of them.

Yup. Third-party voters. It’s not going to work, and here’s why:

There’s this thing called Duverger’s Law. It says that the determining factor for the number of a country’s competitive parties is the way its electoral system is structured. Countries such as Israel, Uruguay, and Italy that have proportional representation have multiple parties in their system. People under these systems vote for parties – not candidates. So if, say, a party wins 10% of the people’s’ votes, then 10% of the highest candidates on their pre-made list gets the seats.

It just so happens that America’s plurality voting system (each person gets one vote; the candidate with the most votes wins the seat) combined with the single-member districts has created two dominant parties. When all it takes to win is just to get the most votes, smaller parties either die or join a bigger party.

It’s the nature of a winner-take-all system.

No American third-party presidential candidate (besides maybe Abraham Lincoln, but even then the accuracy of saying Lincoln was a third-party candidate is disputed) has ever won an election even though there is an incredibly minute – but still there – chance of one winning.

Now, I completely understand that many third-party votes this election season serve as protests to either the system, the parties, the candidates themselves, or some sort of combination of those things and normally, I wouldn’t bat an eye at anyone choosing to vote third party in any other election. I’m actually happy that they have the freedom to vote as they wish.

Except this isn’t any other election.

This is directed at anyone voting or thinking about voting third party. This is for the Republicans who disagree with who their party nominated and for the Democrats who feel the same way. This is for the Independents who never liked Clinton or Trump to begin with. I know, however, that many third-party voters were fans of Bernie Sanders, and so this is for the disgruntled, irritated Bernie supporter who stood at the tipping point of what could have been a colossal movement, who felt the air vibrate with the anticipation of a political revolution that we helped start. Trust me, I get it. I was a Bernie supporter too.

But like I said, this isn’t any other election.

Because in every other election before this, both major party candidates have been fit to be president. Hillary Clinton isn’t perfect, but by no means is Donald Trump deserving or qualified to run this country.

It’s the 21st century and a presidential candidate from one of our major political parties is a compulsive liar and blatantly sexist, xenophobic, and hateful. Someone who thinks it’s okay to just “grab [women] by the p***y” or to marginalize an entire group of people based on the minority twisting their religion to fit their insane ideals is not fit to be the most powerful person in the world. Making him president would not only devastate our government and economy and set us as a society 60 years back. It would drag America’s reputation with the world down to almost irreparable standings.

Many of his supporters say they like him because he isn’t afraid to offend anyone. It’s certainly true that Donald Trump isn’t afraid to offend anyone, but that doesn’t give him – or anyone – the right to disregard being a decent human being.

We are at a critical point in our nation’s history. Everyone who understands the dangers of a Trump presidency, regardless of political preferences, must seriously make an effort to put aside their differences and stand together against what could possibly be the worst thing to happen to America.

We, as a great nation and people, have come too far. If anyone’s going to make America great again, it’s going to be us. Not Donald Trump.

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