Want a viable 3rd party? Voting for one won’t get us there. Here’s what will.
Jameson Quinn

Katy Levinson argues that we should consider voting third party in the US presidential election if we live in safe states. But no matter how many people follow her advice, it won’t be enough to make a third party viable

I see we can’t make it out of the first paragraph with a factual inaccuracy. What if, say, 100 million people followed her advice? Seeing as how about 126 million people voted in the 2012 United States presidential election, that should get the job done.

You are correct that the American system of democracy is dysfunctional for the vast majority of Americans (not so much the oligarchs), and you are correct there are a lot better ways to structure elections, but that is entirely unrelated to how someone chooses to vote this year. In fact, if a higher proportion of people never do vote third-party, we’ll never see any change in this department.

I don’t know if you think someone is going to invent a magic wand that suddenly makes politicians work for us and suddenly makes the beneficiaries of the two-party system suddenly want to give up their stranglehold on power and money in the United States, but I’m not counting on that. In fact, you suggest the answer right in your supposed rebuttal to Ms. Levinson:

But suppose you help a third party reach the 5% threshold to get public funding next cycle, or the 15% threshold to get into the debates. How is that helpful, if you’ll still be using FPTP in four years, so that the more votes the party gets, the more likely it is to be a spoiler?

This seems like a good way to get the conversation going. You know who is never in favor of changing the voting system in America? Democrats and Republicans. They’re more about suppressing and manipulating votes than they are empowering voters. You know who is at least sometimes in favor of changing the voting system? People in other parties. Maybe they would say something about it if they got into a debate, and maybe the media would start talking about the inadequacies of the American electoral system if third-party candidates had the clout to push that narrative.

Of course, none of that ever happens if people don’t start voting third-party, and this election is a great time to start. It is more than a little ironic that the very thing you are arguing against (people voting for third-party candidates) is literally the exact thing needed to support the things you are arguing for (electoral reform). It does nothing to contribute to some organization devoted to reforming elections if people championing that organization are also urging people to vote for candidates representing the major parties.

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