Third party candidates and their supporters are quixotic yet admirable.
If the United States was a parliamentary democracy as predominates in Europe, third parties would have more political clout. However, our winner-take-all or first-past-the-post voting system makes it difficult for third parties to elect candidates given the dominance of the so-called duopoly — the two party structure.
Nonetheless, third parties have advanced issues that become popular and adopted by the major parties, such as the direct election of senators or the legalization of marijuana. My friend Alex White ran unsuccessfully as the Green Party candidate for City Council and Mayor, each time bringing new ideas to the table.
As seen in The Presidential Visits Series in its entirety: James Monroe to Donald Trump, in the last 60 years third party candidates have impacted presidential elections: John Anderson in 1980; Ross Perot in 1992; Ralph Nader in 2000.
As seen in October 29th, 1980: Carter at a rally six days before the Reagan revolution. And when Bernie Sanders campaigned for Barry Commoner, independent John Anderson — and to a far lesser degree, Barry Commoner — influenced the outcome. Although I was too young to vote, I once inflated balloons for an Anderson event at the Unitarian Church on Winton.
Ralph Nader visited Rochester during and just after his presidential campaigns in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. On December 7th, 2000, he spoke at RIT while the Florida recount was still underway and the winner undetermined. At the event, Nader refused to take blame if the Democrat Al Gore ended up losing.
As seen in Athesia, Video Celeb turned Paparazzi, at the rally, when Nader campaigned at Monroe Community College as an independent during his 2004 presidential campaign, I was interviewed by Channel 8 News. In the segment, I was said to “strongly support Nader.” I liked Nader, but the darned reporter omitted, however, I was voting for Kerry as I strongly disliked President Bush’s Iraq policy.
As seen in On October 19th, 2012 when Bill Clinton campaigned for Louise Slaughter. And a Socialist at the public market, Socialist and Liberation candidate Peta Lindsay campaigned at the Public Market. Ultimately, she received very few votes.
Between 8 and 9 a.m., the Brookside School polling place in Brighton was buzzing and busy. I spoke with about 25 people, asking one question: have you ever voted for a third party candidate?
The largest group — maybe a third — were maybe, probably or yes but couldn’t remember when. Fair enough. All those ballots tend to blur over the years.
On whether they had ever voted for a third party, two mother and daughter pairs said, yes, just now. It’s easier to remember when it was only a few minutes before. One pair voted for the Green Party’s Hawkins; the other chose not to reveal. One of the mothers also voted for “that consumer guy,” Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000.
Two people voted for Perot in 1992. One man lived in Dallas — as did Perot — at the time. The voter was disappointed with George H. W. Bush and felt Bill Clinton was not ready for the job. The other Perot voter also voted for a local third party candidate. The man so loathed the major party candidates he chose the third party candidate even though he knew nothing about him. Had there been no third candidate, he would have left the line blank or written someone in.
One man voted for the Reform Party presidential candidate in the 90’s but couldn’t remember his name.
In 1980, Brighton Town Superintendent Bill Moehle strongly considered the independent Anderson. But Bill determined the election was a two man race between Carter and Reagan and a vote for Anderson was a vote for Reagan. See October 29th, 1980: Carter at a rally six days before the Reagan revolution. And when Bernie Sanders campaigned for Barry Commoner.
Another man has voted third party in some local elections. He has supported national third party candidates during the campaign, but — like Moehle — ultimately voted major party.
Three people definitively said no. One woman only voted Republican once, for a judgeship. She’s always felt a third party vote is a wasted vote. One “no” man sported two “I Voted” stickers, joking that he voted twice (voter fraud!) but each time for a major party. One woman has never voted third party but regularly votes for Democrats on the Working Families Party line.
One 25th District man, who now votes by absentee ballot chose in 1968, Henning Blomen, Socialist Labor Party, as the man disliked both Nixon and Humphrey. He regrets his choice.
As seen in My first election: Horton and Cuomo. And some 2018 endorsements., I voted for a third party candidate for the second time, Hawkins for Governor, because I want the Greens to reach the 50,000 vote threshold allowing the party to be on the ballot for four years.
When living in Rhode Island in the mid-to-early 2000’s, I voted for Robert Healey, a former plumber, former Ph.D. dissertation candidate at Columbia who stumped while crisscrossing the state as a beer salesman. Seven times Healey ran for Lieutenant Governor with a campaign promise to abolish the office. Healey’s slogan was “A Strange Man for a Strange Job.” One year he received 39% of the vote.
As seen in Memories of presidential visits on Election Day in Brighton, in 2016 I did receive a write in vote for Town Judge.
UPDATE: Both the Green Party and the Libertarian Party broke the 50,000 vote mark needed to remain on the ballot. As of November 7th, with 83 percent of the vote counted, Hawkins received 79,640 votes. Cuomo easily won a third term.
In the Ariziona senate race, the Republican Martha McSally is likely to beat Democrat Kyrsten Lea Sinema by about one percent or less. In the week before the election, the Green Party candidate, Angela Green, dropped out of the race — unlike Nader in Florida in 2000 — and endorsed Sinema. Nonetheless, the Green Party received 2.2% of the vote, enough to possibly have shifted the election to McSally. UPDATE: As of 11/10/18, it appears Sinema will win. For more on the Greens and the Arizona elections, see Gail Collins’ “Election’s Over, Let’s Have A Rant”(11/10/18)