The Folly of Voting for a 3rd Party Candidate
There is a good deal of noise these days about voting for a 3rd party candidate in the upcoming election. In most cases the impetus is not to favor a particular candidate, but to protest the inner machinations of the Democratic National Committee. This is a spectacularly bad idea for a great number of reasons.
First of all, the DNC is a private organization, not an elected body. The only way to reform such a body is from the inside. I have little experience with working in a particular party, but I do have significant experience with the inner workings of a labor union, in my case the local teachers’ association. When I first got involved I noticed it was pretty easy to gain personal power in a labor union. All you had to do was volunteer to spend a lot of unpaid hours doing difficult work that most people would rather ignore. Becoming a building rep almost always meant an election with no opponent. From there it was on to the Executive Committee – pretty much the same story. After only 6 months of that, I was approached by several elders I respected who urged me to run for President of the union. Actually, “President” is supposed to be capitalized only when it refers to the US President, but this little rule is usually ignored.
I ran for President the first time against a man who seemed to be very angry and not that focused on what he would do. I won with 97% of the vote. The second year I ran un-opposed and received 93% of the vote – 7 less than when I had an opponent! Hmmmm…
As President, I needed to recruit a great many people to take on tasks that were difficult and time consuming, and unpaid. There were some people who took on a job because they liked the title – “Chair of the whatever committee,” etc. Some of them enjoyed the personal challenge. I had one math teacher whose hobby, so to speak, was to spend countless hours poring over the exhaustive district budget to find large amounts stashed in accounts with deceptively simple names. He knew more about where the money was than almost all of the district staff. I even learned, from him, how to hide sums in the union budget!
The most difficult task was to agree to serve on the negotiations team, which meant about 6 months of often frustrating work that culminated in a new contract, a strike, or a strike followed by a new contact. For all of the heartache and strain you would get – a nice dinner paid for by the union.
In my experience, the very best people for this were those in the throes of a divorce. People in such a circumstance want desperately to get away from personal life concerns, and teaching during the day and negotiations duties several evenings a week took care of all that for 6 months. Beyond that, these people did not seem to want any credit for any of this, and would usually prefer that their names be mentioned rarely, if at all. The result of this was that I got a lot of credit for things I did not do.
To reform the DNC (or RNC if that is your preference) you would need to find people willing to put in the hours and the effort, for several years, to get the change in leadership focus desired. Not an easy task, but it is doable.
Voting for “Anyone but Hillary” for example, will have no effect at all on the DNC. If she wins, DNC will take that as an affirmation. If she loses due to liberal voters “making a statement,” there will be concerns much larger than the internal morality of the DNC.
The rationale I have seen for this is that in some cases Hillary Clinton is seen as a lock to win a particular state, so there is no harm in casting your vote to the winds. This is faulty logic, at best. Based on polls? Poll estimates are routinely incorrect, and sometimes to an extreme degree. Harry Truman once went to be early, as “everyone” (including him) knew he would lose the election to Dewey. He was quite surprised the next morning when people began to refer to him as “Mr. President.” Relying on poll numbers is historically not a viable method of analysis.
Besides, the point is to win. During my decades in education I coached about 30 teams in at least 6 different sports. As a coach I had a winning record in all of them. That was the point, but of course there were other considerations. For a few years I was gifted a very talented group of junior high girls. What I preached to them, ad nauseum, was “More than ten, less than twenty.” I could not see any point in running up the score, and by substituting in and out I could pretty much control the score of both teams. On a junior high team at that time the rules required 15 players, and each was to be in the game for two minutes. I had a student assistant whose sole job was to keep track of this. The difference between the top 5 and the bottom 5 at that age is enormous. I eventually resigned as coach the year I discovered that ALL of the other coaches were cheating on this.
But a Presidential election is not a basketball game. You cannot predict what the voters are going to do. Polls are essentially “scouting reports,” and they are far less accurate than the 5 minutes I would spend watching the other team prepare for the game.
The Seattle Seahawks do not fumble on purpose, just to give their vaunted defense some extra work. They do not take their best players out of the game to protest the meal they were served in the hotel. They do not run up the score, but only pull back when the game is well and truly out of reach for the opponent. The election takes place in one day, and it is not possible to tell when it has been won, despite the increasingly sophisticated computer programs predicting winners. Remember the computer engineer’s maxim – GIGO. “Garbage In = Garbage Out.” The predictions of the pollsters are only as good as the materials used to create them.
But there is an even more dire need to you to vote for Hillary Clinton, no matter your usual political bent. This election is not really about policy or projected legislative action. Trump has not espoused anything like a coherent platform of proposed policy.
This is an election about basics such as human rights, respect for others, respect for the truth, and eschewing hatred. A Trump victory, even if he achieved nothing as President, would drastically alter American life for years, even if you are one of those rare people who has not attracted his scorn. Perhaps you are not a woman, a minority, a member of the LGBT community, a veteran, a police person, or a fireman. I am not any of these myself. Apologies to those I have left out – he insults a new group almost every day, after all.
To maintain civility in our nation, it is not just imperative that Trump lose, but that loses by a landslide never before seen. I think 80% – 20% would be good.
This is also important if you are a Republican, or would like to be. The Republican Party of my parent’s time is long gone, and I think it began to fall apart during the Nixon era. Now you have an unholy alliance of groups that pretty much share one thing – hatred. Some hate government, some hate various groups of people, some hate the idea that someone somewhere is having fun, but they are united in their anger.
I would like to be a Republican as my parents were. I am not comfortable with government dictating to women what they decisions they can make about their own bodies, or what sexuality people can identify with, or what private people can do inside their own homes. And so forth. To create a party that is in favor of small government, you would need to get inside and do the work from the ground up; using the same program I began this piece with.
I want the Republican Party to lose this election by such a large margin that they will turn away from the course they have been on for several years. I want the sexists and the racists to go back to muttering to themselves, I want the evangelicals to get out of politics and back to church, and I want to see the policy of burn the government to the ground as espoused by the Tea Party rebuked.
This is an enormous task, but easier than all others mentioned here. It merely takes a Clinton vote from anyone who identifies with terms such as logic and compassion and patriotism.
All such votes are needed, and all will count.
Copyright 2016 David Preston