Third party options are uninspiring

by Sydney Sweeney, Staff Columnist

Young voters are angry.

Student debt, police brutality, mass shootings and the 2016 presidential election have shaken confidence in the future. The wide-eyed optimism and anticipation for change motivating the least politically-involved voters during the primaries has evaporated. Disgruntled millennials may consider supporting a third-party candidate or lazily doing as young people often have — not vote.

From April 2015 to May 2016 many young liberals were happy sheep following a democratic socialist shepherd and his plan to fix America. Bernie Sanders campaigned on issues young voters care about. But delegates did not “feel the Bern” and Hillary Clinton is now the Democratic nominee.

Young Sanders supporters might hesitate to stand with Clinton and it is not surprising. Many are liberal independents with no connection to the Democratic Party. They perceive her as not being progressive enough.

For new kids on the polling block, the chance to rebel against elephants and donkeys might seem a viable alternative. Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson are attracting disillusioned voters of various ideologies.

Stein’s eco-socialist mission to create “deep system change” might please young liberals. The Green Party’s platform, rooted in environmentalism, also includes support for a $15 minimum wage, jobs, improved Medicare and social justice. Her New Green Deal is an ambitious plan to create millions of jobs by transitioning the U.S. to 100 percent clean energy by 2030.

Stein dreams big, but her lack of political experience is laughable. Her only experience was six years as a town meeting representative in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Former Republican governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson is the nominee of the Libertarian Party, but contrary to the beliefs of many, ‘libertarian’ is not synonymous with ‘liberal.’ Sanders supporters who liked his policies — stimulus packages, higher taxes for the wealthy and not privatizing social security — should not vote for Johnson. Libertarians support small government and laissez-faire capitalism.

Voters who value fiscal conservatism might like Johnson’s plan to fight unsustainable national debt without tax increases and to veto legislation that results in deficit spending. And though Johnson is fiscally conservative, he is socially liberal. The Libertarian Party supports women’s and LGBT rights, criminal justice reform and the legalization of marijuana.

Regardless of the candidate, the value of a third-party vote is questionable. Since the mid-19th century, every U.S. president has belonged to either the Democratic or Republican Party.

Some third-party candidates, like Teddy Roosevelt, enjoyed moderate success. Roosevelt represented the Progressive Party and came in second in the 1912 presidential election.
Ralph Nader’s insurgent campaign might have spoiled the 2000 presidential election for Al Gore. Although these third-party candidates may not have won presidencies, their voters have helped shape American history.

Given the historical relevance of third-party candidates, and the malignant candidacy of Donald Trump, this election is uniquely frightening. A third-party split on the left is not worth the risk of a Trump presidency. Both candidates poll unfavorably, but Clinton’s worst is far better than Trump’s best.