Third parties; or, what to do if you don't want to vote for Hillary


I've been almost entirely silent about Presidential politics during the 2016 primary season. I've also never been more grateful for leaving Facebook at in June of last year. The ridiculous rhetoric from people I respect just boggled my mind. And I learned I actually know someone who (at least at the time, and apparently not as a joke) wanted to vote for Donald fucking Trump. Now that we're moving into the general election, though, the choices have coalesced. And I have to speak up.

I don't particularly feel like re-litigating the would-have-could-have-should-have counterfactuals of the primaries. I was sick of the Bernie v. Hillary nonsense (in my view the vast majority was utter nonsense) around the end of March. And any counterfactuals about the course of the Republican party (movement conservatism in general) need to start... oh, probably around the Goldwater candidacy before they become serious. So let's take as given that the 2016 Presidential nominees are Hillary Clinton and---fuck everything---Donald Trump.

Now, I'm not a party person. I didn't participate in the primaries because I didn't feel like registering one way or the other (plus, caucuses sounded like actual hell to me). But I do think that parties matter, because lots of people do care about political parties. In this post I'm advocating for what I want the electoral map to look like after election night in November. With any luck it will be a giant, magnesium-bright signal to various tendencies and movements within the American electorate. And above all, it will be the death knell of the giant organized grift machine that currently calls itself the "conservative movement."

I should add that I'm being pessimistic.

Let's take as given that the winner of the 2016 Presidential election will be a nominee from one of the two major parties: that is, either Clinton or Trump will win.

Trump is unacceptable. Full stop.

The right-wing is going into metastasis, overtaken by violent populist bigotry. Yes, it's full-throated racism and sexism, but not in the old patriarchal style of "we're superior, they naturally occupy a lower social stratum (that we will enforce by law)", but in the style of skinheads and hooligans who like beating the Other to a pulp just for the hell of it, just to see who can take the most scalps.

Hence, I expect that Hillary Clinton will take the majority of votes, both popular and electoral.

But I'm being pessimistic; as much as I would like an unequivocal fuck-you lack of votes going to Donald Trump, he'll most likely get at least 20-25% of the vote, and very possibly more. That's because the low-twenties is "Sasquatch territory"---that is, no matter how insane the proposition, about 20-25% of Americans will probably go with it. For example, believing that Sasquatch exists.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton probably can't get more than 60% of the vote, because of the way votes are tallied and because she has a problem with favorability during elections.

I want to see Trump get the minimal number of votes from the maximal number of people, and such an electoral rout of anyone supporting him down-ticket that the GOP-Trumpenstein monster is unequivocally shattered. That tendency, more than any other, has damaged this country on a level that borders on treasonous. At the very least it's a betrayal of some of the best values upheld as "American."

So, 20% for Trump and 51%-60% for Clinton. Where should the rest of the votes go?

This is where I try to convince the Trumpists and the "Not Her, Us" people to vote for Gary Johnson.

Gary Johnson is running, together with Bill Weld, on the Libertarian ticket. Now the Libertarian Party are, to put it mildly, mixed nuts. I know quite a few nice and sane libertarians, and then there's the crowd that booed Johnson at the LP nominating convention because he supports driver licensing and opposes letting five-year-olds do heroin (something explicitly endorsed by one of the other candidates). Sasquatch territory, as I said.

That doesn't particularly matter.


What matters is:

1) Johnson/Weld have 50-state ballot access.

2) Gary Johnson is not Donald Trump, and is a cordial man interested in discussing the issues---again, regardless of whether he has bad opinions as to which policies would best address said issues.

I've seen some hand-wringing and soul-searching about what third-party votes even mean in America. I don't think a third-party vote is worthless: it can be much more meaningful than a vote never cast. But we have to start with the current reality about third parties.

Third parties will not win a majority of votes in this election.

That said, a third party vote can be a meaningful signal. Imagine if everyone who doesn't vote for Trump or Clinton voted for Johnson, and only Johnson (not Stein, not any of the other roundoff-error candidates). Suppose it was a 60-20-20 split between Clinton, Trump and Johnson. That would force the main parties to think very hard about their priorities, about their alignment with the electorate.



Compare to all the disaffected voters "voting their conscience," or not voting at all. Then it could be more like 53-50-5-1-0.2-... Clinton-Trump-Johnson-Stein-Whoeverthefuck, with maybe 50% voter turnout. What sort of signal does that send? The pundit class are idiots in this regard: they want a horserace and they love the Magical Balance Fairy. 53-50 (ignore everyone else) looks like "business as usual" and emboldens the alt-right.

Whereas 60-20-20 is thermonuclear annihilation.

And that's what I want. Treat the Johnson/Weld ticket as a generalized "THIRD PARTY" or "NONE OF THE ABOVE." Vote Hillary if you want; I will. If you don't, vote Johnson. Don't abstain. Don't vote for Jill Stein, Deez Nutz, Vermin Supreme, Harambe or any other joke candidate. This is really about signaling, and we need to send a massive, deafening signal that alt-right hooliganry can fuck right off.

Most of my readership (I think) lives in Washington State, a very safe Democratic enclave, but also a progressive incubator. This makes the third-party-vote plan even safer; at the same time, make sure to research and vote for state and local candidates to make real impacts in your life and the lives of your neighbors. Ballots are mail-in. The post office will pay for the stamp.

Come November, I want everyone I know to have voted. And I don't want to know anyone who voted for Trump.