Oct. 31, 2016 – Ronald L. Feinman is the author of Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015). A paperback edition is coming in March 2017.
In the Presidential Election of 2016, we have two third party movements that could impact the results of the election and the future of the nation.
There is great disillusionment among many voters, particularly millennial voters, with both Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump; polls indicate that there are high levels of mistrust and suspicion that have been generated against both major party nominees.
So there is a strong temptation to vote for either Gary Johnson, with 9-12 percent in many polls and Jill Stein, with 3 to 6 percent.
The question is what are the tradeoffs for young voters?
We have the key issue of government experience and expertise that is essential in a complex world, and we can ill afford to have a President who has little to no experience in politics and government to lead us into an uncertain future. Only Gary Johnson and Hillary Clinton have such experience in politics and government, which is something to consider.
We have the reality that the Supreme Court is likely to see a major overhaul in the next four years, with possibly up to four new Justices, due to age and health factors. Such issues as these could be decided by the Court in coming years: Abortion, Affirmative Action, Campaign Finance, Class Action Suits, Climate Change, Contraception, Gun Rights, Immigration Reform, LGBTQ Rights, ObamaCare, Redistricting, Unions, Voter ID Laws, and the Voting Rights Act.
We have the crisis in world affairs, with the need for a steady and knowledgeable leader who understands foreign policy and has been near the center of major decisions and knows foreign government leaders. None of the three candidates, other than Hillary Clinton, have such a background, which is something to be factored in to the issue of whom one should vote for.
We have the need for a leader who understands the social and economic turmoil in America and who is equipped to deal with the changing circumstances that will affect all Americans in the next decade and beyond.
We have the urgency of having a proved leader who has substance and a record of accomplishment, and is desirous of uniting the American people in moving forward, rather than promoting division and conflict.
We need a leader who has worked across the aisle successfully and has the trust of people of both major political parties; of the military and intelligence and diplomatic community; and is seen as stable and consistent and reliable. Only Hillary Clinton has served in Congress, although Gary Johnson has been a two-term Governor of New Mexico. This is another consideration to keep in mind.
Voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein will not lead to the victory of either of them, as no third party has ever won the Presidency, but could lead to the election of someone ill qualified to be our President both domestically and in foreign affairs. Voting for a third party has affected American politics in the long run, but only once, in 1912, did a third party affect the result in a generally positive fashion, when Progressive Party nominee Theodore Roosevelt split the Republican party vote with President William Howard Taft, giving Democrat Woodrow Wilson the election. Wilson proceeded to follow much of TR’s agenda during his administration. No such scenario now exists or is likely to exist again.
Third parties such as the Populist Party of the 1890s; the Progressive Party of Robert La Follette, Sr. in 1924; the American Independent Party of George Wallace in 1968; and the Reform Party of Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 had an impact removed from the immediate situation.
On the other hand, voting third party helped to change the result of the 2000 Presidential election in a manner not beneficial to the nation, and this upcoming election is too important to allow someone far too dangerous to become the beneficiary of one’s discontent. One must recall that Ralph Nader, running on the Green Party line, gained almost 2.9 million votes nationally, nearly 3 percent of all votes cast, and won 97,000 votes in Florida, which ended up being won by George W. Bush over Al Gore by the small total of 537 votes.
And Pat Buchanan, running on the Reform Party line, won over 17,000 votes in Florida, including about 4,000 votes in Palm Beach County, where many elderly Jewish voters were confused by the so called “butterfly ballot” used in that county; they thought they were voting for Al Gore, but actually cast votes for Buchanan. Buchanan won only about 450,000 votes nationally, but both he and Nader affected the result in a very close election, making Bush President, although he was about 540,000 votes behind Gore nationally. This made Bush with fewer popular votes the White House occupant, a fluke that had only occurred much earlier in American history in 1824, 1876 and 1888. So the importance of recognizing the damage that a third party can render is extremely worthy of a voter’s attention.
Republished from the History News Network: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/164225