Professional sexual deviant Dan Savage went on a profanity-laden rant recently against people who advocate voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein over Hillary Clinton. Here are some highlights:
“Yeah, let’s talk about the Green Party for just a moment, or third parties, getting a third party movement off the ground here in this country. Because we are sick of the two party system!
“Here’s how you fucking do that: you run people not just for fucking president every four fucking years.
“I have a problem with the Greens, I have a problem with the Libertarians. I have a problem with these fake, attention seeking, grandstanding Green/Libertarian party candidates who pop up every four years, like mushrooms in shit, saying that they’re building a third party.
“And those of us who don’t have a home in the Republican Party, don’t have a home in the Democratic Party, can’t get behind every Democratic position or Republican position, should gravitate toward these third parties. And help build a third party movement by every four fucking years voting for one of these assholes like Jill fucking Stein, who I’m sure is a lovely person, she’s only an asshole in this aspect.
“If you’re interested in building a third party, a viable third party, you don’t start with president. You don’t start by running someone for fucking president.
“Where are the Green Party candidates for city councils? For county councils? For state legislatures? For state assessor? For state insurance commissioner? For governor? For fucking dogcatcher? I would be SO willing to vote for Green Party candidates who are starting at the bottom, grassroots, bottom up, building a third party, a viable third party.
“You don’t do that by trotting out the reanimated corpse of Ralph fucking Nader every four fucking years. Or his doppelgänger, whoever it is now…”
The thing is, Savage is right. In my experience, third parties consist mainly of Democratic or Republican rejects, attention seekers, and people with poor social skills. If you can find a local chapter, they are mostly just discussion groups. No effort is made toward organizing, fundraising, and running candidates for public office. Every four years someone runs for governor or president, and barely hits five percent of the vote.
Truth be told, I vote for the Libertarian presidential candidate every election (because I don’t live in a swing state), and I have gathered signatures for third-party candidates in the past. Democrats hate third parties because they blame Ralph Nader for the Bush v. Gore fiasco in 2000. They were angry because Nader (Green Party nominee) received 2,882,955 votes, or 2.74%. If even half those votes went to Al Gore, he may have won, though I’m not sure in which states it would’ve tipped the scale.
Now, the theory goes, if disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters go Green, it might be enough to tip the scale in favor of Republican Donald Trump. However, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is polling higher than Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Johnson is more likely to pull votes away from Trump, but I don’t hear a lot of Republicans complaining about Gary Johnson.
The truth is, both Republican and Democrat political machines (organizations, not candidates) are hurting for cash and volunteers. It would be stupidly easy for a small group of active adults willing to invest their time and money to build a local third-party infrastructure to rival either major party. However, I have yet to meet a group of Greens or Libertarians who could get their act together longer than one election cycle.
This may be the year of the disaffected voter, but I’m skeptical that any minor party will be able to translate this opportunity into long-term gains.