Why Voting Green Isn’t a Wasted Ballot

Green Party USA Logo

Green Party USA Logo

As you know if you are even a casual reader of this blog, I am committed to Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency as long as he remains in the race. If and when he drops out, I plan to work for, support and vote for whoever the Green Party nominates; I presume that will be Dr. Jill Stein, who was the 2012 nominee of the party, but whoever garners the nomination will get my vote in the event Sanders doesn’t make it.

I have elsewhere explained my reasons for making this choice. These include, in brief:

  1. I do not like or trust Hillary Clinton. She is a defense hawk at a time when world peace needs to be near the top of the agenda. Her late conversion to opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline tells me all I need to know about her sensibilities on global climate change. None of her ideas are fresh.
  2. While I am loath to vote for a candidate from either major party (more below), Sanders is only a Democrat in name for the purposes of this campaign. His policy positions go well beyond the present and recent Democratic Party platforms and align somewhat closely (though not as closely as I’d like) with the Greens, whose platform meets with 90% approval.
  3. The Green Party is the only global political party worth the title. In a world where problems transcend national and cultural borders, that approach to politics must be the future if the planet is to survive, let alone thrive.

Many of my friends, when they find out my voting plans, are aghast. “A vote for a third party candidate is a vote for the Republican!” they say incredulously. “Why would you want to waste your vote like that plus taking a chance you’ll help elect a Cruz or a Trump?”

Fellow political blogger John Uebersax has done an excellent job of explaining the rationale behind a decision to vote for a third-party candidate. I encourage you to take time to read at least the summary of his thinking that occupies the first part of that post. Briefly, here are my primary points.

  1. The two major political parties are Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum in their broadest policy positions. With Sanders out of the equation, the Democrats differ from the Republicans basically only in degree on the major issue of the day: global climate change, the economy, income inequality. The differences seem huge because of the way they are painted by media dedicated to upholding the Establishment power structures on which they feed. While it is certainly the case that the Democrats have a better record on civil and human rights, those issues are not existential in the same way global climate change, e.g., is.
  2. Voting for the lesser of two evils still results in an evil outcome. (I don’t really believe in evil, but I use the terminology because it is commonly understood.)
  3. While it may be true that in 2016 voting a third party ticket isn’t going to result in a win, it can hasten the day — which I expect will come within 20-30 years — when the United States becomes a multi-party nation in which all parties are dedicated to governing rather than destroying.
  4. If ever there was a year when voting outside the two major parties was likely to make sense, it’s 2016. Whether the GOP nominates Trump (which I suspect they will) or Cruz (a worse alternative in my view), Hillary will bury them. Not only will the Democrats hold the White House, they’ll probably regain control of the Senate and significantly weaken the Republican majority in the House. Down ticket races will also go heavily Democratic as conservatives are tarnished by the outrageous positions and behaviors of the GOP slate. The chances that a couple of million people voting for what they’d really like to see instead of what they’ll settle for will throw the election one way or another is patently absurd. In a close election year, that view might not hold water but it certainly does in 2016.
  5. If the Greens and/or other third parties gain sufficient numbers of voters, the mainstream parties will be forced to shift their policy positions in order to increase their competitiveness. The net result will be a government that comes closer to modeling my views instead of one where the differences on the issues that matter most to me are all but negligible.
  6. By voting Green, I may contribute to the party receiving enough support in 2016 that it will qualify for ballot access in all 50 states and matching FEC funds in 2020, both important steps to the establishment of a viable third party.

I’m not unrealistic. I know the Green candidate won’t win in 2016. I have predicted that the GOP will nominate Trump, which will fracture them badly and open the doors wide for a massive victory by HRC in November as well as significant gains in Congress. But in much the way that Bernie has caused Clinton to shift to the left and to discuss important issues she’d rather not focus on, a significant showing by the Greens in 2016 can begin to shift the major parties in directions that I will find more palatable and more likely to avoid the catastrophic future that awaits my beautiful children and grandchildren if either of the mainstream parties’ platforms hold sway for another 4-8 years.

Isn’t it better — more moral, more in integrity — to vote for what you really want rather than waste a vote on someone with whom you will never be truly satisfied as your leader?

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