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Letter: Third Party Politics

(Editor’s note: The following is a response to Karen Gellender’s column, “The Opposite Of Voting.”)

I too have been finding it’s much easier this year to identify the candidates I don’t like than to pick one that I do like. So, I’m thinking about “third party” candidates, but worried that a vote for a third party is a vote thrown away. But here’s how I convinced myself that voting for a third party candidate is an okay thing to do: Unless you live in one of the “swing” states (like Michigan) that the polls say can go either way, then voting for a major party candidate, who isn’t the favorite in your state, is pretty much a thrown away vote anyhow. By voting instead for a suitable third party candidate, you at least convey the message to the major parties that the candidates they provided were not attractive to you.

At some point, a rational political party will look at the third party votes as votes they’d like to win for themselves and so will perhaps pick a more suitable candidate. Or if a particular third party candidate actually manages to attract enough votes to win the election, then the losing “major” party perhaps isn’t so major any more, a suitable fate for a party that can’t learn to offer the people the sort of leader that they want.

Maybe I’m naive, but I keep hoping for a political convention that doesn’t simply rubber-stamp the nomination of the candidate that the primary results picked, but that has the fortitude to pick a candidate who would best lead the implementation of the party’s platform. If it’s all automatic, then why not spend the money on a big advertising campaign instead of on holding a convention?

A friend of mine suggests that all campaign promises are lies. By assuming that, he isn’t disappointed if the candidate elected doesn’t actually deliver on their campaign promises. My friend’s ballot choice is based on voting for the candidate that presents the lies that are most appealing to my friend’s point of view. He explains that if the other candidate isn’t even presenting attractive lies, then why should he give that candidate his vote? If the candidate who wins then takes actions that are inconsistent with the lies he campaigned on, then don’t vote for him again. Arguably, that explains the fate of the first George Bush, the one who campaigned on a promise of “no new taxes” (“Read my lips! No new taxes!”). He implemented some small tax hikes, and couldn’t get re-elected because people couldn’t trust that he’d at least act consistent with his campaign promises.

R. Drew Davis
Westbury resident