Dan Savage has a good rant about recent third-party candidates titled “Dan Savage on Jill Stein: Just No.”
The bottom line is that you don’t build a real political party just by running someone for president every four years. You actually have to do work, and get people elected at all levels: city, county, state legislatures, governors, and Congress.
Or as Savage put it a bit more colorfully: “If you’re interested in building a third party, a viable third party, you don’t start with president.” “You don’t do that by trotting out the reanimated corpse of Ralph fucking Nader every four fucking years.” He complains that there has been “no sustained effort to build a Green Party nationally. Just this griping, bullshitty, grandstanding, fault-finding, purity-testing, holier than thou-ing, that we are all subjected to every four fucking years by the Green Party candidate.”
It’s true. It is easy to complain. It is much harder to actually do something about it.
He also takes to task the lie that there is no difference between the parties:
People supported Ralph Nader in 2000 and said there was no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush, therefore we could all afford to throw our votes away, protest-style, on Ralph Nader, who had no hope of getting elected, because there was no difference between Bush and Gore.
These same people, at the same time, said that George Bush was so manifestly obviously terrible that he would bring the revolution if he got himself elected somehow. They didn’t say this about Gore, he wouldn’t bring the revolution. They’re exactly the same, exactly as awful, but one would bring the revolution and one wouldn’t. Which means they weren’t exactly the same and they weren’t equally awful.
And now people say the same thing about Trump, “that his election will bring the revolution.” Savage says that is “bullshit”.
The revolution did not come in 2000 when George W. Bush got close enough to winning to steal the White House. It will not come if Donald J. Trump gets his ass elected.
It’s not that there is not a difference between two parties, (specifically presidential candidates), there are lot of differences in fact. Unfortunately the whole package of the person/ideas is not that I can vote for. So option is either to not vote or vote third party. But again this may not hold true for most people.
Thanks for this. These ideas come up so often in progressive discussion fora that I tend to assume they are “concern trolling” — you know, “I share your concerns; the best thing to do is nothing / shoot ourselves in the foot.” This is an excellent debunk.
It’s a great point, actually. Even in the unlikely event a third party candidate were to somehow, someway, get elected President, he/she would still be largely surrounded by the status quo from the the other two parties, at the township, city, state and national levels. People often have the mistaken impression that a President can work miracles, but forget that fundamental change almost always happens from the ground level.
OTOH, a bad President can really f*ck things up rather quickly. Another “Mission Accomplished” anyone?