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.