Green Party vote not wasted

Sam Chapman

I dream of an election in which the Green, Libertarian, Constitution and Justice parties are all polling around 17 percent beside the Democrat and Republican, who are doing about as well. Instead, this election is another iteration of the usual two-party nightmare.

I’m not writing to complain about third-party marginalization; that race will be run time and again by demagogues more capable than myself. Instead, I look on it as a chance for me––a first-time voter––to defend my democracy against the corrupting forces of cynicism.

I will be voting for Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party as soon as I can get my ballot in the mail. Those who call themselves political realists––and may indeed be political realists––will at this point come forward with several good reasons why I am wasting my vote. She has no chance (Stein is polling at 2 percent nationally). I’ll be siphoning votes away from Barack Obama, who may not represent my views as well, but has a much better chance of winning. Even if elected, Stein has no experience in politics.

As I said, all sound reasons, but I reject the thesis that I will be throwing away my vote. First of all, I don’t see it as voting for someone who has no chance; I see it as being on the cusp of a movement which will eventually give candidates like Stein, Libertarian Gary Johnson and others a fair shot. The more people voting for Green or Libertarian candidates, the better they’ll poll, the more their voices are heard and the richer the debate. Reforming the electoral college is critical, but the only way to make third parties truly viable is to give up the notion that they never will be.

Second, Stein’s platform includes several key planks on which Obama is either silent or wrong. These are issues which should decide the election, but have been infuriatingly absent from the campaign––even from the debates, where the candidates should be fielding questions for which they aren’t prepared.

Stein has pledged to end the double standard whereby corporations are so human when they want free speech that they actually get more free speech than the rest of us, but are not human when they want to dodge charges of bullying, vandalism and murder. Obama’s website is void of any reference to corporate personhood. If we don’t stop letting big business dictate its own terms, we are on track to lose vital control over our country. Therefore, we should vote Green.

Stein has further stated that coal, oil and natural gas ought to have no future in this country. This position is once again a stark contrast to Obama, whose “all of the above” energy policy so blatantly panders to fossil fuel interests that it is literally right there in the title. He’s bought in to the red herring of energy independence (as long as the oil is still being burned, does it matter where we got it?) and the twin fantasies of cure-all natural gas and “clean coal.”

I am voting for Stein because, if these issues are not addressed, the others are pointless. Why bother educating children for a future in which corporations make all their decisions for them? Why reform healthcare if our groundwater will be poisoned by natural gas? Why end foreign wars while pumping enough CO2 into the atmosphere to introduce a new breed of chaos onto the geopolitical stage?

I am voting for Stein because I refuse to compromise democracy. Now that I have the vote, I will not ever use it for anybody other than the candidate I believe would be the best leader. Political expedience is a red herring that feeds on itself and limits democratic possibility. It’s an idea we need to start killing today.