Early this morning Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to a reality television star who has never held political office. As has become commonplace across our current digital landscape, knee-jerk reactions and finger-pointing currently flood social media as millions of Americans attempt to understand how the opening sentence to this article is now real life.
Open debate and discourse is necessary in order for the public to construct full, educated opinions on events such as a Donald Trump victory. The clashing of ideas and the pressure that discourse creates has molded our country for centuries into the world leader it is today. The freedom of choice and opinion is a cornerstone the American democratic process is built upon. That is why I am interested by the anger Clinton supporters are channeling towards the individuals who decided to vote for a third party in this election.
As I scrolled through my timeline this morning I was vexed to find multiple accusations that Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and other third party supporters “voted for Trump,” “don’t care about social rights,” and “should be ashamed.” In my opinion, the opposite proves true.
The initial fallacy with these claims is the thought that third party votes belong to Hillary Clinton. That is not true – they belong to the candidate and party they were cast for. There are very obvious and valid reasons this election cycle provided that explain why so many voters refused to support either major party candidate. In regard to Hillary Clinton, it is obvious that her clear and many faults — along with some pretty poor campaign strategy, apparently — are a significant point of blame for her loss of votes and the overall election. If your argument is that third party votes belong to Clinton, then the same argument should be made for all the other groups who were jaded away from the polls (such as minority groups in battleground states).
I was interested in the amount of seemingly socially-conscious individuals who railed against the idea of a “protest vote” and cast shame on all those who voted in such a way (a flip-flop from the unwavering support these individuals showered all other protests that occurred throughout this election cycle). I would argue that my vote for Gary Johnson actually carried more weight than these individuals give credit to. There is a large percentage of young Republicans who do not agree with some of the traditional conservative social stances our party takes. Contrary to certain media pundits, we actually do care about women’s issues, LGBT rights, the War on Drugs, and race. This election made clear that the Libertarian voice was heard and could have altered the outcome of the race – it’s my hope that this may expedite change in a party that could sincerely benefit from it. I am well aware that Gary Johnson (along with both major party nominees) is unfit to become president; my vote was instead for a more progressive Republican Party that I truly believe can help this country.
Most of all, my biggest concern with the liberal online abuse towards third party votes is an inability to look inwardly for fault. The blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss should not rest on the Green or Libertarian party and its supporters. They were not the ones who actively (and publicly as discovered during the primaries) forced a flawed, controversial, and untrustworthy candidate down their supporters’ throats. They did not rally behind a flimsy follow-up to 8 years of purported change that would ultimately be defeated by the most laughable Republican nominee to grace the ballot in generations. That was the Democratic Party, and the blame rests with them alone for not winning what should have been an electoral cakewalk.
American politics is a governed union representing the melting pot of different beliefs, cultures, and ideas that make up our country. When your party and candidate are unable to rally a large enough group of American voters to their cause, then perhaps the blame shouldn’t be placed on our diverse, but collective, beliefs. Instead, perhaps you should question why we voted third party in the first place..
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