November 4, 2016

GUEST ROOM | Why a Vote for Gary Johnson Is a Strategic Vote

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Forget Clinton and Trump, vote strategically.

A vote for Gary Johnson isn’t just a protest vote against the two least liked presidential candidates in history. It’s a strategic vote for the next election and the future of our country.

This election cycle is a mess. We have a billionaire playboy with a trash mouth who doesn’t know why we just can’t “nuke” people and a former secretary of state who is one of the least liked and most corrupt politicians in history. If you’re anything like me, you’ve played a big part in making the hashtags #NeverTrump and #HillaryForPrison start trending on Twitter.

I can’t bring myself to vote for either of them. But, fortunately, I have a choice. Contrary to popular belief, a vote for former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is not a wasted vote. In fact, it’s a strategic vote.

In the 2012 election, Johnson was also the Libertarian candidate. He managed to receive 1,275,923 votes, just under one percent of the popular vote.  In this election, he is doing much better. As of a month ago, Johnson was polling at 13 percent of the popular vote. A Washington Post survey showed Johnson polling at double digits in 42 states and at 15 percent or higher in 15. Another poll even showed him at 17 percent in New York, the home state of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Keep in mind, Gary Johnson has garnered this much support despite the fact that his campaign budget is a fraction of Clinton’s and Trump’s. On top of that, he has received little to no media coverage, evident by his exclusion from all three presidential debates.

We’ve all heard it, “Don’t waste your vote by voting for a third party.” Trump supporters say that a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Clinton. Yet, my liberal friends love to tell me that a vote for Gary Johnson will ultimately help Trump. Which one is it?

Yes, it’s true that the winner of this election, as has been the case for every election we can remember, will either be a Democrat or Republican. We have a bipartisan system and people are annoyingly loyal to their political party. Thus, when the two major parties nominate candidates who are unlikeable and/or unfit for office, we are left with a tough decision. A decision, as many people would say, to choose the lesser of two evils.

This in itself is a sign that our bipartisan system is flawed. Perhaps we should take the advice from the famous theologian Charles Spurgeon when he said “From a communist to a cultist, choosing the lesser of evils is still evil, and never should we do evil that good may come.”

I will be voting for Gary Johnson, the most qualified candidate in the election, because I refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils and in doing so, my vote is a strategic vote for the 2020 election.

Let’s just say that Johnson ends up getting 10 percent of the popular vote on November 8. It’s possible. If that happens, the Libertarian Party will have improved its support by 1000 percent from 2012 to 2016. Let me repeat that, ONE THOUSAND PERCENT. If the Libertarian Party support improves in 2020 at even a third of the rate that it did in 2016, we would be looking at a third party candidate polling at over 30 percent, which is certainly enough to be a serious competitor in a three party election.

The Libertarian Party has four years to increase its popularity and campaign funds. Not only is it possible that a third party candidate can compete in the 2020 presidential election, but it’s even likely.

If the winner of this election turns out to be as awful as everyone thinks he or she is, the demand for a legitimate alternative will only grow. When the 2020 election comes around and everyone still hates the establishment and our broken bipartisan system in Washington, there will be Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party ready to make another run for the White House. This time, he’ll have the momentum from 2016, including enough votes to be included in the debates, to actually throw a wrench in things. So, when someone tells you that a vote for Gary Johnson is a wasted vote, tell them that they are wrong. It’s a strategic vote, a vote that will lead us to a future where we have more options and won’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils.

Jacob Waltman is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Comments may be sent to associate-editor@cornellsun.com. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.

15 thoughts on “GUEST ROOM | Why a Vote for Gary Johnson Is a Strategic Vote

  1. I quit reading when I came upon the delusional claim that Johnson is polling in double digits in 42 states and 13 percent nationally. I’ve been following fivethirtyeight throughout the campaign and haven’t seen any evidence that Johnson has more than 5 percent across a wide variety of polls. There is a strong case that our system would benefit from a viable third party but considering the existential threat to democracy that Donald Trump represents, this is not the year to make that happen. I’m with her.

    • 1. He was using the most recent polls we have for those states. They are, admittedly, a bit old.

      2. The significant decrease in Johnson’s polling percentage isn’t because he has lost support. It’s because they change the way they poll from actual support to “likely voters” as the election nears, and “likely voters” means anything they want it to mean, but it especially discounts young people and independents who are Johnson’s strongest supporters.

      3. Hillary is every bit of a threat to our democracy as Trump is, if not more. People like to talk about politics as if it’s socialism vs capitalism or the left vs the right, but it’s really the people vs the establishment. The establishment is responsible for endless wars, systemic racism, insane levels of imprisonment and disenfranchising the majority of voters by failing to reform our election system. Is all of that worse than a misogynistic, racist asshole? Hard to say, but they are both clearly so terrible that voting for either of them is just throwing away your vote.

      4. According to establishment mouthpieces such as yourself, every year is not the year to make it happen. Every single time, it’s OMG, the Republican is the worst candidate ever, so you just HAVE to vote Democrat or vice versa. Every. Single. Time. Sorry, little boy, but you’ve cried wolf far too often for anyone to take you seriously anymore.

      • Cool! I’m an “establishment mouthpiece”! No one has ever called me that before. I guess I’ll take the establishment a little while longer rather than descending into the dystopian abyss that a Trump presidency represents.

        • Has anyone called you a “tool” before. It is not as fancy a name as “establishment mouthpiece” but it has the same meaning and better describes your relationship with all involved. I hope they pay you well.

    • Even if Gary Johnson gets only 5 percent of the popular vote, it will still be 500 percent higher than in 2012. Furthermore, 5 percent of the popular vote will shatter all previous records for a Libertarian Party presidential candidate. It will also enable the party to achieve long-sought-after federal recognition as a “Major Party” which entitles the Libertarian Party to receiving $10 million or more in federal election matching funds in 2020, plus automatic ballot access in all 50 states for the next four years. Five percent may not seem like a big deal to you, but to any third party, including the Libertarian Party, it is a game changer.

  2. Mr. Waltman is entirely correct about wasted vote syndrome. The truth is that a vote for a third party is likely to sound louder than any other vote cast for one of the two entrenched parties. Just consider the math of voting for a moment away from party bosses and pundits. You get one vote and it is only a positive vote. The contention that a vote for X is really a vote against Y does not make any sense. It might IF your single vote was going to decide the election, but that has never happened and never will. If you vote for the lesser of two evils, your vote will be washed out and meaningless.

    If you vote for the Libertarian or the Green candidate, however, not only will you not blow the election, but your vote will speak to the whole establishment about which way society should evolve. The two underdogs also have far more to gain from your vote. In most states receiving just 2 or 3% of the vote means ballot access in following elections. Right now the Republicans and Democrats get a free pass on getting on the ballots. But Gary Johnson and Jill Stein to get on the ballot had to spend a whole lot of money and volunteer time in each and every state. This year they each spent about $10 million to just get themselves into the race. Next election, because of your vote, they may be able to instead spend those resources on getting their messages out – which would likely be one of the healthiest things our political system might have happen to it since the Republicans graduated from 3rd party status and freed men from slavery.

    You can make a huge impact this year with your vote and it is a rare opportunity that you should not miss. But to make a difference you are going to have to summon up enough courage to ignore the bullies who would castigate you for your views and manipulate you into voting for someone you dislike. The plain truth is that the only wasted vote is the one not made with your heart, and your instincts are better than they want you to think.

  3. More emphasis should be placed on the people who never cast a vote. Deriding people for voting 3rd party is a negative venture. Why not be positive and attempt to get those non-voters into the arena. I believe also they would be more malleable to whatever agenda you’re pushing.

    • Because non-voters would disproportionately vote 3rd party. They would rather have people not vote than to vote 3rd party. Those people are already doing what the establishment wants.

    • Popular third-party candidates generally have 25% of their voters saying they would have otherwise voted Democratic, 25% would have otherwise voted Republicans, and 50% would not have voted at all. Nader pulled a little more from Gore and Perot pulled a little more from Bush, but it seems it’s still always ±5% from this 25-25-50 split. Using 2012 numbers, 600,000 voters entered the process and voted for Johnson, who otherwise would not have exercised their right to vote at all. If he hits 5% this year, that’s maybe 3 million. 3 million voters may entice the other two parties to pick up on issues important to libertarian voters. Maybe Hillary would drop her dream to regulate sex and violence out of video games and rap lyrics. Maybe Trump would realize it’s wrong to abrogate a citizen’s right to bear arms and being placed on a government watchlist without due process. Or either party could steal the pot legalization issue for themselves – which now enjoys 60% support among all voters.

      Perot showed how malleable the GOP could be following their loss to Clinton. They adopted a lot of the fiscal responsibility Perot talked about in the 1992 debates, and applied it to their 1994 Contract with America, where they swept a majority back into Congress. On the other hand, Nader’s challenge to corporate influence over government showed how arrogant and inflexible the Democrats can be when it’s a question of them bringing corporate money into the political process – they always find new ways to haul it in.

  4. Want to really shake things up? Use the Electoral College to your advantage in two easy steps:

    If you are a resident of a state who’s polling indicates that it is a ‘Safe Democrat’ state, but you normally vote Republican, vote for Gary Johnson.
    If you are a resident of a state who’s polling indicates that it is a ‘Safe Republican’ state, but you normally vote Democrat, vote for Jill Stein.

    Neither action will have any effect on the outcome of the election. But that’s okay, your vote didn’t count anyway. But if everyone plays along, both the Libertarian and Green Party will reach the threshold for future federal funding, and the establishment’s collective heads will explode. You will send a message, loud and clear, that the Party is Over.

  5. Given the choice of Hillary, (a lifelong politician of questionable ethics and part of the problem) and “the Donald” ( the most uniquely UNqualified candidate in history) or a successful two term governor, (Gary Johnson), I don’t see how anyone couldn’t vote Libertarian this year… smaller government, personal freedom, military restraint, and social inclusion, these all sound like good things to me. Make a difference this year, vote Johnson / Weld !

    • William Weld on the Rachel Maddow show – “”I see a big difference between the R candidate and the D candidate and I’ve been at some pains to say that I fear for the country if Mr. Trump should be elected. It’s a candidacy without any parallel that I can recall. It’s content-free and very much given to stirring up envy and resentment and even hatred. And I think it would be a threat to the conduct of our foreign policy and our position in the world at large.”

      Weld also said he believes Trump is “psychologically” unstable, a bully and incapable of “competently managing the office of the presidency.”

  6. On Domestic Issues –
    Johnson and Weld are the only candidates experienced in working across party lines as re-elected Republican governors in Democratic majority states of NM and MA, respectively. They’ve outlined reforms to balance the $19 Trillion dollar budget deficit and eliminate wasteful spending, tax reforms to encourage business and trade, and protect our civil liberties. Libertarian’s Johnson and Weld don’t want government into our pockets, religion, or bedroom.

    On Foreign Policy –
    Trump’s foreign policy consists of nurturing his man crush for Putin, building walls, and nuclear weapons.
    Clinton’s years of experience suggests that she’s most qualified, however, she lacks the common sense to realize that the infighting between Middle Eastern Tribes and countries has gone on since the 7th century, yes 1,300 years! Clinton’s dogged determination will continue to put our nation’s security in danger, impact our economy and most importantly, needlessly put our military in harm’s way.
    Johnson supports my views for military supremacy but understands the real cost of war, especially innocent military and civilian lives. His foreign policy is based on our and our allies’ defense, not regime change.

    I’m voting Johnson / Weld – They’re not perfect. No one is but they’re far and away the most qualified to work to end the partisan gridlock in Washington and they’re honest!

  7. Gary Johnson won 17 states last night thanks to you and others across the country that voted. There were 21 states that the Libertarian Party was trying to gain ballot access in; states that previously had kept us off or made us spend millions of dollars to get onto where the Democrats and Republicans had a free ride. In addition there were 4 other states that did better than 5% which was our national vote threshold for major party status. Gary Johnson took our party 60% there and momentum is on our side.

    Thank you for your post.

    See a map of the WINS that the Libertarians gained in the Presidential election here:

    http://results-app.lovesjohnson.com/

  8. I just came across your post. I was just arguing a point similar to yours this morning about voting for a third party was not a wasted vote. The Republican and Democrat parties saw the percentage on Independent voter registrations. As a result of that, they could either alienate those voters further or modify their platforms towards the middle to rope in Independent votes. Independent voters have far more power than they know. Their vote has the power to sway elections because they are an unpredictable voting power who are willing to cut political ties or change loyalty at will.

    I knew Johnson/Weld weren’t going to win. America isn’t ready yet. They’re still afraid of change and will settle for the status quo over the unknown. I think people didn’t vote third party because they knew one wouldn’t win so they held their nose and picked an R or a D. Those people failed to understand how much power they had and what voting third party would have meant moving forward. People are not really taught politics in school anymore; at least not at the level required to understand multi-party politics, cause and effect, or the impact of the swing vote. They are also not taught about how bills are pushed or who pushes them like big businesses and lobbies. The average person is politically ignorant and most people are too dang lazy to put forth the effort to understand it. It’s a self-taught endeavor and in the age of video games and instant gratification; reading dry policies, bills, tax codes, and political history, is not on the list of exciting things to learn.

    My hope was that by voting my conscience in the future, a third party would have the chance to argue at the debates and bring something fair and truly moderate to the table. I don’t believe in voting for the lesser to two evils because you’d still be voting for the devil. Voting in that manner is a defensive stance, rather than an offensive one. I’m not going to relinquish my power by voting in that manner. I’d just assume not vote if there’s nobody to believe in, but I did believe that Johnson/Weld could have done a decent job, even though foreign policy was a bit weak. All candidates are weak or vulnerable in something. That’s why administrations surround themselves with people who are subject matter experts.

    I don’t regret my vote at all. My son will be old enough to vote next election. It’ll be up to him to do his own research and find out who he aligns with the most.

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