Sunday, October 09, 2016

A Third Party in 2016?

It has been noted and repeated many times that this year's Presidential campaign is almost without analogy in American history.  The Republican candidate is hilariously, grotesquely, unfit for high public office, while the Democratic candidate, despite her credentials in public service (which are not without blemish), bids fair to continue many of the highly questionable policies of the incumbent.  She herself has a somewhat rebarbative personal style – irrelevant, I know – but it makes it hard to build up a big enthusiasm for her.

For these reasons, many people in the country are considering voting for a third-party candidate.  I am one of them.  For years, I have kidded people that I am a member of the "Green Tory" party, which is nonexistent, but which would include, if it existed, strong pro-life and pro-traditional marriage planks (traditionally associated with Republicanism), as well as strong support for environmental protection (including limiting greenhouse gas emissions), universal health care, opposing torture as a tool against terrorism, and pro-gun control (traditionally associated with the left). I distrust both Big Government and Big Business.   But since there is no Green Tory party, I have been forced, every four years, to vote for a candidate whose views I consider in part repugnant.  This is the price of being a citizen in the US.

However, this year I will be voting for a party whose platform I believe in, namely the American Solidarity Party.  The ASP is an American version of the European-Latin American Christian democracy parties, and its platform, as you can see, has a great deal to recommend it to Green Tory members.  For the first time in – well, ever – I can vote for President (the ASP ticket is Maturen-Muñoz) whole-heartedly.

But I need to defend this choice against two charges. The first charge is, "Everyone has a duty to keep Trump out of the White House, and only a vote for Clinton will ensure that." I do agree with this up to a point.  Indeed, if Maryland were a swing state, I would probably vote for Clinton for exactly that reason.  However, Maryland is solidly Democratic and my vote for Clinton is not needed.

The second charge is, "You are wasting your vote on someone who cannot win." However, the value of a third party does not rest on electoral success or failure.  Politics is concerned not only with elections (who holds power), but also with policy (what the government should do).  A third-party platform can express certain ideals of public policy and will represent a unified political and social worldview, that is an alternative to the inadequate views of the two big parties.  To the degree that the third party gains votes and, with them, a higher public profile, the more attention will be paid to these ideals and this worldview, and the more traction they stand to gain in the society at large.  This seems to me to be a goal worth working toward. 

For these reasons, I am voting for the ASP in 2016, and I recommend their platform to those looking for an alternative.  See you at the polls!

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