The Presidential election of 2016 has finally come down to a two horse race: Mrs. Hillary Clinton representing the Democrats and Mr. Donald Trump representing the Republicans. Frankly, there are a lot of people who are not happy with either candidate and are threatening to vote for a third party instead. Although one can understand the people’s dissatisfaction with the two party system, that the Democrats and Republicans possess too much power and no longer produce strong candidates, the reality is we live in a two party system and supporting a third party candidate has never proven effective in the last one hundred years. To illustrate…
In 1992, millionaire Ross Perot from Texas ran as an independent in the presidential election where he helped defeat incumbent George H.W. Bush and hand Bill Clinton the election. More than anyone else, Perot turned the country over to Clinton.
In 1980, Republican Congressman John Anderson from Illinois ran as an independent where he helped defeat incumbent Jimmy Carter and elect Ronald Reagan. Reagan would have narrowly won without Anderson, but the independent sealed Carter’s doom and helped the Republicans retake the Senate for the first time in 25 years.
In the 1912 election, two term President Theodore Roosevelt failed to gain the Republican candidacy (going to incumbent William Howard Taft instead) and, consequently, created a third party known as the Progressive Party (aka the “Bull Moose Party”). As an aside, the Progressive Party back then bears no similarities to the Progressive Party of today. This split in the GOP allowed Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the election.
There are of course other political parties, such as the Libertarian and Green Parties, as well as other smaller organizations. Cumulatively, they represent a minuscule proportion of the voting population and, as such, do not pose a viable challenge to the two party system.
Then as now, splitting either party in this presidential year will prove disastrous for the Democrats as well as the GOP. The Democrats are concerned with keeping the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Republican opponents to Donald Trump are threatening to desert the party.
As we all know, this will be a tough campaign which will likely go down to the wire. Every vote will be important. The harsh reality is anyone casting a vote for an independent will be wasting it. Such a vote is not a vote of protest, it is a vote for the party you do not want to see elected. The wrong candidate will inevitably win. So, if you cast your ballot for an independent, you might as well use it as toilet paper as it will have a better effect than placing it in the ballot box.
If you are serious about building an independent party, now is the time to start building it for the 2020 election, not for 2016, and do not be surprised if you are not successful during that election cycle.
Keep the Faith!