Why I voted for Gary Johnson

For the record.

I have criticized Donald Trump, and people accuse me of supporting Hillary. I have criticized Hillary Clinton, and people assume I supported Trump. And when people discover I voted for Johnson, they brand me a Libertarian. I am none of these things.

I live in Alabama. Alabama was never going to be the state to swing the election. Trump won Alabama in the primaries, and the state was counted in the Trump column since day 1. FiveThirtyEight gave Alabama a greater than 99.9% chance of voting for Trump. For Alabama to make a difference, it would have to switch to Clinton, but even if I thought that unlikely scenario could come to pass if I voted for Clinton, Alabama still would not have been a swing state. Alabama would not have shifted to Clinton without first Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas also switching to Clinton. So in all scenarios, if Clinton were to win, she would do it regardless of Alabama’s support.

My vote could still count in the popular vote. Although my vote could not determine the winner of the election, federal support for third parties is dependent on the popular vote, not the electoral college. Therefore, my vote for a third party could help a third party get future federal support. We had two exceedingly unpopular candidates in contention for the crown, and America would be better with more choices, so I voted third party in the hopes that my vote would help a third party and thus give us more choices in the future.

Of third party candidates, Johnson had the greatest chance of clearing the 5% threshold required for federal support. Really, the only two third party contenders with a chance of clearing that threshold were Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. While I didn’t think either of them was particularly prepared to be president, I wasn’t voting for a president, I was voting for a third party — any third party — to get future federal support. Our FPP/plurality voting system causes third parties to act more as “spoilers” than anything else, so logic dictates that you should vote for the third party that you least agree with. However, in this case, there was only an outside chance that any third party would garner enough votes to exceed the 5% threshold, so I chose the party that had the greatest chance, regardless of ideology

How’d that work for me? Johnson failed to get over the 5% threshold required for future federal support. Our election system really cannot support more than two parties, so I was always tilting at windmills anyway. However, my vote had a greater chance of making a positive impact as a vote for a third party than it could have as a vote for Clinton or Trump.