The morality of a third party vote

The year 2000 seemed largely inconsequential. The bubble inflated quietly, Mad Cow disease marched slowly across Europe’s fields, and the fireworks from the turn of the millenium brought blazing faith in time into the world’s eye in the same way each New Year’s show does. 2000 seemed inconsequential until the ball dropped on November 7th.

Where we are now is by no measure inconsequential. Recordings of institutionalized murder burn on our newsfeeds and in our hearts. Greed justifies the taking of essential medicine.  Frank Ocean drops Blonde after teasing us for so long. Voters must take action to guarantee their prevention of these injustices in the future and, hopefully, work to restore what was lost as a result.

Those snapshots of 2016 only give reason to why so many people no longer hold faith in time. Voting every two or four years and leaving politicians to their offices no longer brings about action that favors the electorate.  Instead, after seeing legislation that works for other entities over them, voters are attempting to balance the scales to put themselves back in power and ensure others are treated fairly. This faith in change overwhelms discussions, and as the world asks more of democracy, this shift is a necessary one. However, to create change in a responsible way, a force must be within the system. Voting for a third party is immoral.

Now, I should first make it clear why a third-party vote is tempting. First, the Republican ticket, apart from painting lies with huge brush strokes and espousing the most vicious and villainous rhetoric aimed at marginalized groups in recent political history, has set forth an economic plan that would put the American economy $10 trillion further into debt and entrench the West’s current trend toward nationalism, isolationism, and antagonism. Donald Trump and Mike Pence represent the idea of an old America that some don’t want to see return.

Furthermore, people aren’t impressed with the Democratic option. The electorate pins Hillary Clinton as a flip-flopper whose positions change like the weather—never quite clear what will happen but, especially in DC, perpetually sticky and deeply uncomfortable. Also, the mutual, unsettling distrust she holds with the populus and press fuels a tightrope walk that leads to many wobbles, such as the use of a private email server. Clinton’s primary issue, however, is that she is too hawkish, too cozy with the financial sector, or too enthusiastic a supporter of globalization for her base and her own good.

Enter Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, the nominees of the Green and Libertarian Parties and the two prominent alternatives to the two-party system. Stein, a physician-turned-politician, aims to blow on the coals of the Bernie or Bust movement, decrying the use of big money in politics and asserting the degradation of the environment as the foremost concern this election cycle.  Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico and a Republican defector, outlines plans to alter the tax code in favor of a consumption tax and to reduce U.S. military action around the world.

Both face the obstacle of making their parties household names. Johnson defames the two-party system as a “dinosaur,” and he states a multiparty democracy, brought on by the “comet” of the Libertarian Party, will solve some of our country’s woes. Stein, however, brings up the question of this election: “If we can’t put our values into our vote, then democracy is lost at sea.”

Stein wants the American electorate to deem what it finds important in life and vote in accordance with those ideas. However, putting one’s values before human lives is unethical. Voting that way states ideas are of greater significance than human life.

Let me explain. If a voter visits the ballot to support the progressive policies of a candidate that they understand can’t win, like Stein, that individual does not work against painful candidates, like Trump. That voter permits that candidate to enact their flawed and, in this election’s case, illogical and disastrous agenda, causing suffering for common people. Voting for Stein or Johnson won’t move our society in a direction that will end in our country treating every person as a full person. Idealism works against the goals it intends to promote.

Stein does raise a valid point, and one that I hope we can reach. Each voter should be able to act in a way that promotes everyone’s well being in the way they best see fit. In 2016, however, change within a political party is possible.  

Out of the market cycles of the late 1800s, growing labor unions forced politicians to listen to the working class for the first time, bringing about trust-busting at the beginning of the 20th century. Barry Goldwater rode the conservative wave into the mainstream by giving face to the idea that the country should not be run by liberal Northeasterners for those they thought should be helped. Even Sanders’s campaign seemingly realigned portions of the Democratic Party. These lessons from the United States’s history illustrate why voters must maintain a political presence beyond election years.

A month after that grueling November day when Florida realized it mismanaged its voting process, Al Gore delivered his concession speech to the country, saying, “Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States.” Slowly, 2000 became 2001. Bush began implementing a tax code that tore at the middle class despite his assurances he was helping it. He started wars irresponsibly and unnecessarily. For his closing act, he brought the housing market down—and the world economy with it—by leaving regulation by the door. Yes, I shouldn’t blame Bush solely for each of these events, but he promised American prosperity, security, and strength during his time campaigning and in office. Trump’s campaign of fearmongering, distrust, and care for a few crosses the lines of logic and equity that should worry everyone, but particularly who doesn’t fit his idea of whom the country should work for.

For those voters who want to act for the common good this November, the Democrats are the only viable option. For those voters nervous for the Democrats’ actions past November, stay engaged with your representatives and senators at every level of governance, and with the force of change and the patience of time, democracy and the innovation of Western liberalism will work to grow the policies that have led to the decimation of death and the slow dismantling of rigged economic systems. Democracy is a grand clock, and it needs each of us to replace the cogs and weights that work against time.

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