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Why Third-party Candidates Are Not a Throwaway Vote

July 25, 2016

by Robyn Short

America exists today because a handful of enlightened, passionate, committed and headstrong individuals believed they held the power within themselves to start a revolution … a revolution to free themselves from the governmental oversight of a more than 600-year-old British monarchy. And so began this great American experiment, born out of a courageous revolution and an intense commitment to be the authors of the American destiny. Authoring one’s destiny is inherently a journey, not a destination. There is no arrival point; rather, it requires a consistent and unwavering commitment from citizens to actively participate in democracy and to choose to play a role in course correcting when a course correction becomes necessary.

The 2016 presidential campaign season has, to date, been an exercise in fear-mongering, distortions of truth and blatant lies, visceral name-calling and an attempt at alienating, isolating and deporting populations of people who call this great land “home.” Most of this has come from the Trump campaign, with an adviser going so far as to call for Hillary Clinton’s execution, Ben Carson accusing her of being in cahoots with devil and the vast majority of the RNC audience chanting “Lock her up. Lock her up” at most mentions of Clinton’s name. Trump has run a gas lighting campaign aimed at manipulating Republicans into believing his own distorted and dishonest version of the state of our great union.

Though Hillary Clinton has led a far less visceral campaign, she too is not innocent of the name-calling, jab-taking and childish pokes aimed at Trump (i.e., “@RealDonaldTrump Delete your account.”) Many Americans struggle to get behind the Clinton campaign due to her long history of controversy and criminal investigations that have resulted in a reputation of distrust. She is considered by many to a part of the establishment, a politician who flip-flops on issues to accommodate polls, owned by Wall Street and a perpetuator of mass incarceration who will, at best, maintain the status quo.

All of this leaves many Americans stuck trying to choose between the lesser of two evils. There are, however, other options — options that invite Americans to embrace the spirit of our revolutionary heritage that is woven into the very fabric of our collective American conscience. The Democrats will have you believe that a vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson is a vote for Donald Trump. The Republicans share that same perspective — a vote for the Green Party or the Libertarian Party is a vote for Clinton. The truth is pretty simple: That’s true if you choose to believe it.

Imagine if our founding father’s took that attitude: “I’d really like to make a change, but the truth is my actions won’t make a difference. I hold no power to influence change. Who am I to participate in a revolution?” There would be no America today.

If you believe in social justice, ecological sustainability and economic justice and sustainability, then educate yourself on the Green Party Platform and vote your conscience. If you believe in the principles of personal liberty, economic liberty and securing liberty, and you believe the American government should empower state oversight and reduce federal oversight, then educate yourself on the Libertarian Platform. And vote your conscience.

The only throwaway vote is a vote toward a party you no longer believe in, with leadership you no longer trust — or worse, are terrified of — and the willingness to surrender your power to the establishment because you’ve become convinced you have none. America is a long game. Revolutions require tenacity, perseverance and a commitment to staying the course. The power and responsibility lies with us, the American people, to author our destiny.

An international speaker, peace-building trainer and mediator, Robyn works with individuals, corporations and nonprofit organizations in discovering the root causes of their conflicts, so they may transform their relationships and create new and productive paths forward individually and as teams. She also works with community leaders and political and governmental leaders to develop grassroots efforts for building sustainable peace in areas of historic conflict. In this capacity, she has been featured in news outlets internationally. 

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