Now that we’re so close to the Democratic and Republican conventions, all anyone can talk about is what Bernie will do and how much of a circus the GOP version of events is going to be. But every time that I hear about this, I can’t help but think one thing: we’ve already had two conventions to pick presidential nominees.
Libertarians picked Gary Johnson and the Green Party picked Jill Stein.
Of course, that was barely reported, a singular blip on the radar of mainstream media. Indeed, the media is doing everything it possibly can to perpetuate the two party system that we’ve all come to loathe. Johnson and Stein get next to no screen time or print dedicated to them. But something is different this year, something which just might cause those other “fringe” parties to finally enter the national spotlight.
Voter ire and dissatisfaction are at all time highs. Clinton and Trump have unfavorable ratings that are through the roof. We say every election is a choice between the lesser of two evils, but this time it seems it’s literally that depending upon who you ask. If only there were more than two choices! Ah, but there are! And I think people are finally starting to realize just how badly the two party system screws them over and just how untrue the two party narrative is.
Gary Johnson polls at around 11%. Jill Stein is polling somewhere around 5%. That might not seem like a lot, but 16% of the electorate is nothing to sneeze at. Certainly, elections have been swung by far less people. And I imagine that the more time passes, the more people Trump will drive into Johnson’s camp. And once the final nail is in the coffin of Bernie’s campaign, I suspect a lot of his followers would jump to Stein’s ship rather than vote for Hillary (something like 55% of Sanders supporters say they won’t vote for Clinton). Hell, could you imagine what would happen to Stein’s campaign if Bernie endorsed her instead of Hillary? (He won’t do it, but he probably would if he didn’t think it would help Trump become president)
One exciting thing about Johnson’s poll numbers is that he’s very close to that 15% threshold needed to included in the general election debates. If that happened, even more people would realize they aren’t stuck between a Democrat and a Republican. Of course that 15% threshold is absolute bullshit, and just goes to show how rigged the entire system is. In my opinion, if you’re going to be on the ballot, you should be allowed to debate. It’s fair, it’s simple. And to my knowledge, both Stein and Johnson are are on track to be on the ballot in all 50 states.
And really, a diversity of ideas and choices is a hallmark of America. We can’t stop talking about how our greatest strength, our secret weapon, is our diversity. But apparently that doesn’t extend to politics. This country deserves a robust discussion about where we’re headed, and there needs to be seats at the table for EVERYONE, not just the two parties with the most money. Because when you slice down into it, the number of people who actually support Democrats or Republicans specifically is small–about 25% for each party. Over half the country is up for grabs, not defined by either party. Free agents in a sense, who could support whoever they want or form whatever political parties they want. At the very least, one could say that Democrats and Republicans do not represent that majority of Americans (myself included)–so there must be other seats at the table.
In the past, people have said that voting for the third party is wasting your vote. Everyone remembers the crap Nader got, right? But more and more, that seems like a cheap threat, a sleazy ploy by the two parties to keep you from voting for someone else. This election is a perfect storm or discontent and epiphany. It seems abundantly clear that the major parties don’t represent America anymore. People see Democrats and Republicans as two sides of the same corporate, oligarchic coin.
In short, people are starting to come to conclusion that it’s really a vote for the two party status quo that’s a waste. If voting for a Democrat or Republican has a negligible difference, people have nothing to lose by voting for Stein or Johnson. The more people who realize that, the more of a chance we have of actually electing someone to office who’s willing to truly try something different.