Those who dare to support a third party presidential candidate, like Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein or Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, have the liberal establishment in a frenzy. They are especially upset with the number of millennials willing to cast a “protest vote” on November 8, and as a result, they insist young voters take their vote seriously.
But the reality is young people who say they will vote Stein or Johnson are not protesting. They are supporting more democracy in presidential politics, and the millions of citizens planning to make a protest vote on Election Day are the millions, who intend to vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump because they are afraid of what might happen if Trump is elected. These protest voters cannot even make the case for supporting Clinton without emphasizing why Trump should not be president.
Last week, new polls reflected the problem Clinton continues to have with millennial voters. A Quinnipiac poll showed 29 percent of millennials would vote for Johnson. Fifteen percent would vote for Stein. Her lead over Trump was 24 points in August, but in this poll it plummeted to a five point lead.
Dips in polls like the Quinnipiac poll are a “big problem for Clinton,” according to NBC News, “because Democrats need a lot of votes from the younger part of the electorate to offset losses they normally get with older voters.”
Whether that is accurate or not, it is conventional wisdom in the election. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders both addressed the latest poll numbers in appearances on CNN and MSNBC respectively. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and former Secretary of Labor and commentator Robert Reich essentially pleaded with voters to stop playing games by supporting Stein or Johnson. New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters suggested millennials “don’t remember Ralph Nader” and the effect a third party candidate can have on a general election.
This all occurred days after Samantha Bee, host of “Full Frontal,” joked that third party candidates are there to “give Hillary haters a chance to remain morally pure while also putting Donald Trump in the White House.” Bee even refused to show viewers Stein’s picture, and for a part of the bit, she wouldn’t use her name and treated her like she was Lady Voldemort for giving voters an alternative to Clinton.
However, this attitude is not much better than the attitude of Trump’s deplorable supporters, who like to say Mexicans, Muslims, or black people are responsible for the decline of society.
Third party voters, and the candidates whom they support, have little to no power and struggle to build power in a system setup to marginalize them at every juncture. Their candidacies are stifled by a cartel-like organization that controls access to presidential debates and keeps them out for the benefit of Democrats and Republicans. So, if they are a factor, it reflects the horrid nature of Clinton and Trump’s presidential candidacies and the degree to which both have managed to alienate an increasing number of people in the electorate.
Krugman, who has the conscience of a liberal (so you better listen to him), writes, “I’d like to make a plea to young Americans: your vote matters, so please take it seriously.” He asks, “Why are minor candidates seemingly drawing so much support this year? Very little of it, I suspect, reflects support for their policy positions.” But Krugman does not include any perspectives or views from young Americans to back up his lazy presumption.
“Don’t vote for a minor-party candidate to make a statement. Nobody cares,” Krugman adds. Yet, Krugman put together a whole entire column directed at people voting for “minor-party candidates” because he thinks they are just doing this to “make a statement.” Contrary to his own stated belief, he and others obviously do care quite a bit.
Krugman promotes liberal mythology around Nader costing Gore the election. “Remember, George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, but somehow ended up in the White House anyway in part thanks to the Nader vote — and nonetheless proceeded to govern as if he had won a landslide. Can you really imagine a triumphant Mr. Trump showing restraint out of respect for all those libertarian votes?”
The column concludes, “Your vote matters, and you should act accordingly — which means thinking seriously about what you want to see happen to America.” Krugman has no rebuttal for Stein supporters. He includes no evidence to support the idea that young voters are supporting candidates, who are unlikely to win, because it’s what the cool millennial adults are doing and the rest of the country be damned.
Reich’s message to third party voters chides people for equating Clinton with Trump. It begs them to be “realistic” and “practical.” It acknowledges the frustration with the Democratic Party and what operatives within the political party did to Bernie Sanders but insists there are consequences if voters refuse to support Clinton.
The Democratic National Committee brazenly rigged the primary and conspired against Sanders. Superdelegates pledged allegiance to Clinton before the primary started with the caucuses in Iowa. Only a limited number of debates were scheduled so voters had the least amount of exposure to Sanders. The DNC falsely accused Sanders of “stealing” voter file data. The Hillary Victory Fund funneled millions of dollars through state parties to the DNC. A climate of intimidation was fostered to discourage Democrats, especially women, from supporting Sanders over Clinton.
In early April, Clinton declared, “I feel sorry for the young people who believe” the lies Sanders is telling them about money accepted from executives and lobbyists tied to the fossil fuel industry. Young people “don’t do their own research.” Her comment was in response to a young Greenpeace activist, whose question actually was based on facts.
The same month, Bill Clinton said, “If all the young people who claim to be disillusioned now had voted in 2010, we wouldn’t have lost the Congress, and we’d probably have our incomes back.” He essentially blamed millennials for many of the economic problems, which inspired them to support Sanders over Clinton.
These are just a couple of examples of the smugness Clinton showed toward millennials earlier in the election.
Reich, who supported Sanders, thinks voters should forgive the Democratic Party for its anti-democratic acts during the primary. Without costs for these actions, Democrats will repeat what they did the next time there is a primary. Instead of being captives of Democrats, isn’t it time to show some self-respect and support an alternative, who will not be condescending and smug toward everything that you stand for?
Democrats had an opportunity to nominate a candidate who could handily defeat Trump. They could have easily avoided this predicament. They knew a high number of citizens see Clinton as untrustworthy and her favorability numbers are low. But rather than support a campaign that could lift up poor and working class Americans, it was more important for Democratic Party elites to preserve the status quo and ensure Clinton completed her lifelong project of winning the presidency.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sanders addressed those who are considering a “protest vote.”
“Think about what the country looks like and whether you’re comfortable with four years of a Trump presidency. And I would suggest let us elect Hillary Clinton as president and the day after let us mobilize millions of people around the progressive agenda, which by the way we passed, as you know, in the Democratic platform,” Sanders stated.
The platform is one of the most progressive platforms in the history of the Democratic Party, but that platform was a result of Sanders supporters, who refused to back down when Clinton Democrats tried to outmaneuver and suppress their efforts. Progressives will not mobilize for the Sanders agenda after Election Day with the full support of Clinton. Plus, this is essentially what voters were told in 2008, when Barack Obama ran against John McCain. Hope and change grew into bitter disappointment and gave birth to the uprising that propelled Sanders.
There is another thing ignored by the liberal establishment upset at millennials who support third-party candidates.
Stein said in an interview with POLITICO’s Glenn Thrush, “Under Donald Trump, you know, we’ve seen the foundation of the Republican Party move into the Democratic Party so Donald Trump, I think, will have a lot of trouble moving things through Congress. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, won’t.” It would be easier for her to “get us into more wars” and pass more legislation to expand natural gas fracking because she will have bipartisan support.
Since the Democratic national convention, Clinton has worked to mobilize well-known Republicans to promote her candidacy. Does anyone really think they will help her win the presidency without Clinton promising that she won’t support a progressive agenda they ideologically oppose?
The Democratic Party is a neoliberal party, and Clinton is their neoliberal candidate. Building alternatives within the political system is one of the only ways to break their stranglehold over progressive politics. And a sizable chunk of millennials and other citizens are taking this reality seriously not because they want to make a statement but because they embrace democracy. They demand an end to the insanity of the two-party system that has given the world two of the worst candidates in the history of American politics.