Why 2016 Isn’t The Year of The Third Party.
Peter Coffin
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Stein/Baraka have to act as though they have a chance for victory. Greens should always have hope, but we should know the score by now. We know our big ideas don’t match our numbers on the ground. Oh, I hoped that Bernie Sanders primary voters would flip en masse, but his endorsement of Clinton and Trump’s nomination effectively killed any chance for the election of a “President of the Political Revolution” this year. I believe most of us are playing the long-game: the presidential campaign is for speaking truth to a corrupt system, attracting new supporters, and its about earning at least 5% of the vote so that in 2020 we qualify for millions of dollars in federal campaign funds. If you live outside of a swing state, the electoral college votes of your state will in all likelihood go to the same candidate regardless, so why waste your vote? At least by voting for a third party, we can improve our viability for the next election.

I disagree that the House of Representatives wouldn’t elect a third party president. If Gary Johnson, for example, could win enough states to deny Clinton 270 electoral college votes, and if the House remains Republican, fiscally-conservative Democrats and #NeverTrump Republicans could very likely join forces to prevent the election of one of the two least popular presidential candidates in history. It would be unprecedented, but not impossible. By defying party loyalists, these Representatives would suddenly have much more power to shape policy under a bipartisan Johnson administration, and some may even join an ascendant Libertarian party.

Greens don’t have the luxury to consider such a long shot victory as possible for our candidate. Ours remains a project to simply divulge the truths that the other parties ignore: the necessity of full economic mobilization to adapt and mitigate accelerated climate change, our moral obligation to end wars of aggression overseas, and the urgency of ending political corruption. That we are confined to a strategy of awareness-raising is reason enough to seriously consider your proposal for a new third party “without baggage”. It must be able to attract support from Americans of many political persuasions and backgrounds in order to win real power. I recommend looking at Spain’s Podemos and Italy’s Movimento 5 Stelle as the most exciting models. These parties have been successful because of their emphasis on direct democracy, which enables them to knit together very diverse coalitions. It may even be possible to weld together the Greens, the Libertarians, and other third parties in this framework, as Syriza did with radical parties in Greece.