Third Party Or No Party: Third Party Candidates in the Presidential Election

Photo illustration by Kitty Luo

Photo illustration by Kitty Luo

Jesse Nadel

When Asher Low ’17 found out that his favorite presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, did not win the Democratic nomination, he knew that he could not support either major party candidate.

“I’m looking for a candidate and a party that has the best interests of the average American and isn’t looking out for the best interests of big money corporations,” Low said. “With these two candidates, you have one that is crazy and doesn’t know anything about government and one who is running from a party establishment that cheated in the primary process and has a super PAC.”

In the 2016 presidential election, which has been referred by some students as the choice for “the lesser of two evils,” an increasing number of students have decided to support third party candidates over Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Some of the most prominent third party candidates are Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Johnson is running on the platform of minimal government involvement, supporting fiscally conservative policies and socially liberal ideas. Stein believes in heavy environmental regulations and economically liberal approaches.

“Before the endorsement, I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and I never liked Clinton or Trump in the slightest,” Frank Wells ’17 said. “Clinton panders to Wall Street and supports fracking. Among other things, Trump has said some things about women that I personally find disgusting, and he has some economic policies that I do not think will be good for the United States. I support Jill Stein because her platform is the closest to Bernie Sanders’ platform.”

Others support Johnson for his focus on civil liberties, which comes from his belief in limited government interference in the everyday life of citizens.

“I’ve liked Johnson’s platform as he’s done a great job of emphasizing civil liberties while also focusing on what’s important and being more progressive on issues,” Jonathan Damico ’19 said.

Other students, however, feel that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote as these candidates have much smaller followings and, therefore, chances of winning the election.

Eleanor Halloran ’18, a Clinton supporter, said that while she agrees with the stances of the Green Party and Stein, she would not consider voting for her because she feels that, even if Stein did win, she would not be able to pass any legislation with a congress of mainly Democrats and Republicans.

“I think third party candidates are not viable at the national level yet because they will have no congressional support upon which to draw when they need help achieving their goals,” Halloran said. “Third parties need to be built from the bottom up. I actually would consider voting for a good Green Party candidate for a state representative or congressperson if I liked them because the Green Party is actually more closely aligned to my views than the Democratic Party, but I would never vote for a Green Party president unless there was a sizable Green Party presence in congress.”

Wells believes that supporters of third party candidates should still vote for them as the belief that they cannot win is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I feel that our system of two parties is flawed,” Wells said. “You can’t separate the opinions and views of the entire country into only two groups. People don’t vote third party because third party candidates rarely win, but they rarely win because people don’t vote third party. It is an endless cycle.”

Tony Ma ’17 agrees that it is actually quite probable for a third-party candidate to win if everybody would vote their minds, he said.

“I don’t think [third-parties] are unlikely to win,” Ma said. “This upcoming election features the two most disapproved candidates in American history, and countless Americans are refusing to vote for either. Others are only voting for Hillary in fear of Trump and vice versa. Surely, then, it may be time to step out of the two-party dichotomy and at least consider a third-party candidate.”

Oliver Friedman ’17 also does not support Clinton or Trump, but he also does not support any of the third party candidates. Because of this, he is not planning on voting this November.

“I find Hillary to be a fundamentally dishonest candidate and disagree with her fiscal policies, whereas Trump is an arrogant bigot whom I would never trust as a person let alone as a president,” Friedman said.