I used to see third-party candidates as irrelevant information during elections, because they were unlikely to win. Looking back on the 2016 election, I regret that I voted for Hilary Clinton instead of supporting one of these candidates, because she turned out not to be the best choice.
I voted for Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, believing this to be the wisest choice available. I disagreed with Clinton’s platforms on many issues I considered vital, and did not think highly of her as a candidate. However, I had adopted the mindset that by voting for her, I was helping to minimize the chance of a Donald Trump presidency.
Despite receiving more votes than any other candidate in the popular election, Clinton lost the election to current President Trump by receiving fewer votes in the electoral college.
My tactic was unsuccessful, which made me question if I had used my vote well. My support for Clinton in 2016 has been tallied and analyzed. I am deeply unsatisfied with the differences between the things I actually think, and the things that voting implies I think.
Looking at the current political stage, candidates are openly endorsing policies such as college for all and universal basic income that are significantly more aligned with a socialist’s agenda than the policies Clinton had proposed during her candidacy. While my beliefs are still considered niche, they are becoming more mainstream.
By supporting whichever candidate I sincerely wanted to win, I could have provided more useful and accurate data that aligns with the beliefs of an actual United States citizen without impacting the decisions of the electoral college in any way. Instead, I provided data on what I was willing to compromise. It was not necessary for me to vote in favor of something I was against as it was counterproductive.
Had third-party voters in 2016 unanimously banded together with the DNC and managed to get Clinton elected, this shift in the political landscape would not be happening. The established policies of the DNC would be seen as adequate enough to win elections, and not in need of this level of reform. There would be significantly less incentive for candidates to reach out to demographics of voters who, like myself, hold views that see little representation in mainstream US politics.
Considering the relatively narrow scope of mainstream political ideologies in the US compared to other nations, I see this shift as vital for anyone outside that scope. If the impact of a vote is to show the decision a citizen wants to make, that citizen is using their vote for its intended purpose.
For future elections, I intend to consider third-party candidates as viable options, given this experience. I intend to vote more honestly, and set a precedent for what sort of policies reflect the values that a candidate would need to adopt in order to earn my vote.
I encourage other SIUE students to do the same, and to represent their views with their votes, to receive better representation of those views on the main political stage. Since it will never provide proper representation, voting for an outcome I don’t want is simply a waste of a vote.