Let me begin by acknowledging that I have quite a few friends who have either voted for a third party candidate for President in the past, or are planning to do so this time around. They are very good people, with great ability to espouse why they have done so or are doing so. And their reasons are not without some measure of validity. That said, I believe the reasons not to do so far outweigh the reasons to do so.
The foundational reasons people give for voting for a third party candidate for president almost always boil down to one thing; they believe that “nothing will ever change if we keep voting for the same two parties.” Another variant of that view is “We are simply voting for the lesser of two evils again and again.”
Please allow me to deal with that last variant first, and to do so in what should be (but usually is not) a very obvious truth: if we add a third party candidate to the mix, we are then simply voting for the lesser of three evils rather than the lesser of two evils. And, as long as Jesus Himself is not actually literally on the ballot, it will be that way whether we are choosing from two parties, three parties, or ten thousand parties. For instance, the Constitution Party candidate is almost always espoused as the “righteous” third option, but a quick look at their platform shows many things that are not only far from righteous, but even far from sensible!
As to the first variant, though, the idea that “nothing will ever change if we keep voting for the same two parties,” I think that we can safely blow that idea out of the water using just two rather well-known words: Donald Trump. For good or bad, can anyone with a straight face even begin to say the words “nothing has changed” in the last four years? This has, very factually, been the biggest “change in the status quo” in our lifetimes. Who could have ever imagined, after a century or more of one polished, presidential sounding, left-or-right-wing-going-the-same- direction-anyway types of Presidents after another, that we would have someone so different as Donald Trump? Who could have ever imagined that we would have a President who either did, or at least actually attempted to do exactly what he promised he would do during the campaign? No, this presidency has been many things, but “status quo” has not been one of those things. And if you need any proof of that, simply look at the apoplectic, bile-spewing, over-the-top threats, insults, and attacks against him by both the Democrats and most “Republicans!”
But let’s suppose for a moment that one does determine to vote for a third party candidate. What exactly, other than helping oneself to feel morally superior, has one accomplished? It is currently an impossibility for a third party candidate to win that office. Therefore, anyone voting for a third party candidate for President not only is still voting for the “lesser of evils,” but he or she is also, in so doing, not actually accomplishing anything substantive. You see, the third parties all have one major flaw; they have never bothered to build from the ground up before reaching for the stars. Mankind walked, then rode animals, then invented the wheel, then put the wheel on carts, then made those carts motorized, then invented a rickety “heavier than air flying machine” (Thank you, Wilbur and Orville) then invented the jet engine, then broke through the atmosphere, then landed on the moon.
The third parties have all spent their time trying to “land on the moon” politically without ever taking the early steps that lead to that point. Rather than building a base, running candidates on local elections until they start winning those, then going for state elections, then trying for the Senate and the House, they simply disappear for three and a half years at a time, then show up once every four years to say “Be principled! Vote for our guy for President!”
In short, they have done absolutely nothing to actually earn that vote. If they cannot do the hard work necessary to even win local elections, why should they be trusted with the nuclear football and world-wide diplomacy?
Sometimes cliches are cliches because they are true. And the old cliche “you are throwing away your vote” is true when it comes to a third party candidate for President. City council? Go for it. County commissioner? There is a chance, so be my guest. But President?
Pastor Bo Wagner can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.