From Here & Back Again

By Jim Coufal

(Cazenovia, NY – Oct. 2012) My concern here is not to describe the third-party candidates, but to look at whether one should vote for them. There are many issues to think about in making such a decision.

The first thing that likely comes to mind is that third-party candidates can and have acted as “spoilers.” Ralph Nader took enough votes in the George Bush/Al Gore race than many political pundits accused him of having lost the election for Gore.

This presumes, of course, that most of those who voted for Nader would otherwise have voted for Gore.

On the other hand, during the Obama/McCain race, Obama’s margin of victory in individual and Electoral College votes was such that voting for a third-party candidate was seen as having no real impact on the results.

So one question that must be explored is, will the election be a close one?

Among the common reasons given for voting for a third-party candidate is the thought that one is tired of voting for “the lesser of two evils.” In this case, neither of the major party candidates meets the ideal of the voters, but more, each stands for some things the voter is against to the extent that they are not truly desirable.

This says nothing of whether the voter has looked only at his/her own self-interests or has also considered the good of the country. Related to this is the option of simply not voting, especially with the realization that the chances of any third-party candidate being elected are very slim.

Is a third-party vote a “wasted vote?”

The website “Biblical Christianity” says voting for the lesser of two evils is a biblical contradiction because all humans are evil (born with original sin, etc.). Even if you buy this idea, it seems to ignore the key word, “lesser.”

The website makes an interesting observation when it looks at politics as the art of the possible, which presumes we have a “loyal opposition” and not a cutthroat one. In this case, the third party is seen as not being able to accomplish what they promise because they must still work with the two major parties.

Jimmy Carter brought a kind of naïve, compassionate view to the presidency that he was not able to accomplish much, and he was not even third-party.

A big reason to vote a third party is that of conscience. You really believe that the third-party candidate’s outlook represents the best hope for the future. Voting for anyone else is voting against your conscience. Further, many say there is no real difference between the two major parties in regards to where they are leading us.

Voting for the third party still is likely a gesture, and what difference it makes is encapsulated in the kind of questions noted above.

There are three third-party candidates in this presidential election who will draw some level of significant votes: Gary Johnson, Libertarian; Virgil Goode, Constitutional; and Jill Stein, Green Party. As reported by the Washington Post, Johnson says, “A wasted vote is voting for someone you don’t believe in. Vote for someone you believe in because that’s how you change politics.”

Fortunately, the choice is yours if you choose to employ your right to vote.

Jim Coufal of Cazenovia is a part-time philosopher and full-time observer of global trends. He can be reached at

By martha

2 thoughts on “Third Party Candidates”
  1. The “spoiler” theory is a bunch of BS. If you remember correctly back to the year 2000 Al Gore actually won the popular vote, in fact, he won the election. It was the Supreme Court that handed the presidency to one George Bush. “Spoiler” was created by the DNC to help disenfranchise those who voted for Ralph Nader and show America that “two choices are better than just one” – until we rid this country of the Two-Party Duopoly the Oligarchs will continue to rule and the bewildered herds of Americans will still vote for “one or the other” – America’s Illusion of Choice.

  2. While the world is full of bs and hs, it would be neat if we could solve controversies just by invoking such. There was much controversy as to whether Nader did in fact cause Gore to lose the election. I believe that a new system of counting presidential ballots is needed, perhaps one integrating the electoral college votes and the popular vote. In fact, for 2000 and today, winning the popular vote does not necessarily mean winning the presidency; election depends upon winning the electoral college vote. Bush won 271 EC votes, while Gore received 266. Bush won 47.87% of the popular vote, and Gore received 48.36%. By this latter, neither would have been a majority winner. Nader won 2.74%of the PC and no EC votes.In full recognition of the various interpretations—pro and con—of Nader as spoiler, it is hard to imagine that if a majority of those who voted nader had voted instead for Gore that the outcome of the EC would not have been different.

    In one case it has even been said that if the standards Gore’s suite for a Florida recount was worded differently, he would have won.

    I do heartily agree the two-party system is not working and a third (more?) viable party is needed. Nader’s 2.74% of the PC fell well below the necessary 5.0% needed for a party to receive federal funds.

    In the end, it all seems to be bs and/or hs.

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