Tag Archives: Green Party

Election 2016: Think Three’s a Crowd? Try 2,000

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson is a “fringe candidate.” I’m not sure what definition of “fringe” Trump is using. Johnson is a former governor, elected twice as a Republican in a Democrat-leaning state. Trump’s main presidential qualification seems to be his legendary skill at trolling his opponents on Twitter.

Democratic presidential  nominee Hillary Clinton hasn’t deigned to notice likely Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Instead she’s dispatched proxies like runner-up Bernie Sanders (“We have got to defeat Donald Trump. And we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. … this is the real world that we live in”) to heap scorn on the practicality of a post-Philadelphia campaign from Clinton’s left.

OK, I admit it: History and money say the odds are with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — that one of them will be the next president of the United States. The last time a third party or independent candidate really threatened to win the White House was 1992, when Ross Perot knocked down nearly 20% of the popular vote, having at one time polled ahead of both Republican incumbent George HW Bush and the eventual winner, Democratic nominee Bill Clinton.

But it’s strange year. It feels like almost anything could happen. And while Clinton and Trump are the frontrunners, the field is, well, YUGE.

As of July 27, the Federal Elections Commission lists 1,814 candidates for president on its web site.

It’s true that some of them have dropped out, or have been eliminated in party nomination processes, or haven’t done anything EXCEPT file an FEC “statement of candidacy.” Most of them won’t appear on any state ballots, or even register themselves with election authorities as write-in options.

On the other hand, some candidates who haven’t submitted FEC statements may show up on your ballot this November. Candidates are only required to file an FEC  Form 2 once they’ve raised or spent $5,000. In some states, ballot access doesn’t cost that much.

If you’re an American voter, you have options. Republicans and Democrats will tell you that you’re “wasting your vote” if you don’t pick one of the two leading brands. I don’t think they’re right — what’s the point of voting if you’re not voting for who or what you actually support? — but even if they’re right, well, it’s your vote to waste, isn’t it?

For once I agree with Ted Cruz: If you vote, vote your conscience.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Election 2016: Wherever You Go, There You Are

English: ‘Down Goes McGinty’, This cartoon par...
English: ‘Down Goes McGinty’, This cartoon parodies a popular comic song about a foolish Irishman who undergoes a series of mishaps culminating in a fall into the sea, where he dies. McGinty here is Democratic presidential nominee of 1900, William Jennings Bryan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Six months ago, who would have bet on Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, even given juicy odds? But here we are.

Who would have predicted the last two Republican presidents, the immediate past GOP presidential nominee, and the Republican Speaker of the House declining even lukewarm endorsements for their party’s horse? Yet that’s what’s happening.

Over on the Democratic side, who expected Bernie Sanders to erase Hillary Clinton’s 50-point leads and go toe to toe with her — or for that matter to win a single primary other than perhaps his home state of Vermont’s? Well, guess what?

And then there’s Clinton herself, not just continuing to run but continuing to win. This, even as she faces possible compelled deposition relating to her use of, and an ongoing FBI criminal investigation into mishandling of classified information via, a non-secure, privately owned mail server — a server allegedly hacked by, probably among others, now-incarcerated Romanian hacker Marcel Lehel Lazar, aka “Guccifer.” A confidential source that I just invented tells me Clinton shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. I’m skeptical. But not as skeptical as I would have been a year ago.

Over in third party territory where I live, some activists are convinced that all this  #NeverTrump #FeelTheBern #WhichHillary stuff portends a breakout year for the Libertarians or the Greens. Again, I’m skeptical. Again, not as skeptical now as last Christmas.

There’s a major crackup/realignment going on in American politics, from the parties’ rank-and-file all the way up to leadership. The nation’s transpartisan ruling class is in the throes of something approaching civil war. Maybe, hopefully not,  one as dangerous as the crackup preceding the REAL Civil War.

The pundits, myself included, have been churning out novel theories to make sense of all this for as long as it’s been going on. Each theory enjoys a half-life of a week or so as it decays into the next. Those of us who arrogate to ourselves the job of explaining stuff to the rest of you are at least as lost at sea as you are. Not, as you’re no doubt noticing, that it shuts any of us up.

It’s going to be a long six months between now and the election. Maybe at the end of it we’ll have some kind of epiphany or valuable takeaway to show for it. But I wouldn’t bet on that either.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Election 2016: “One Person, One Vote” Kills Real Choice

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As you may have noticed, we’re in the middle of yet another American presidential election (our 57th). The news is full of musings about party primaries and delegate counts and possible brokered conventions, but if things proceed as usual,  as many as 130 million Americans will cast votes in November. A winner will be declared based on popular votes in the states as transmuted into a total of 538 electoral votes (if no candidate receives at least 270 such votes, the US House of Representatives chooses the next president).

Seems orderly and natural after 56 such exercises, doesn’t it? But “one person, one vote, the first candidate past the (plurality or majority) post wins” is a polarizing and not very representative way of doing things.

Many of us vote for our second choices — the “lesser evils” — because our first choices “can’t win.”

Many of us could live with either of two or more candidates, but vote for the one who “can win” rather than the one we may like best.

What if you could vote for ALL the candidates you like, instead of just one, secure in the knowledge that your vote(s) would not be “wasted” on a loser, or “spoil” the chances of one of your preferred candidates, resulting in election of the “greater evil?”

You could, if the United States adopted any of several far more rational voting methods. Of the three that come to mind — Instant Runoff, Single Transferable Vote and Approval Voting — I’m going to describe only the last one both to keep this column short and because it’s my own favorite. Here’s how Approval Voting works:

You vote for as few or as many candidates as you like. All the votes are counted. The candidate with the most votes wins. Yes, it’s really that simple.

Assume that this November (as seems likely), your ballot offers you the choice of Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton, Libertarian John McAfee or Green Jill Stein.

If you’re a progressive, you prefer Stein to Clinton, but reluctantly pull the lever instead for Clinton because you really, really, really don’t like Trump and Stein “can’t win.”

If you’re a libertarian, McAfee’s the only even remotely acceptable choice. Maybe you’ll just stay home and watch re-runs of “Modern Family” instead of bothering to vote for someone who “can’t win.”

Under approval voting, progressives could vote for Stein AND Clinton, libertarians could vote for McAfee alone … and both candidates would likely receive second or third votes from people who also vote for Trump or Clinton. Every vote — every VOTER! — would count.

I’m not sure what effect Approval Voting would have on this year’s presidential race, but over time I suspect we’d start seeing successful independent and third party candidates for seats in the state legislatures and Congress — and eventually the White House.

Better election outcomes require better voting systems. Visit the Center for Election Science (electology.org) to learn more about Approval Voting and how to help put it into action in your city, county or state.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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