By Alex Hayes
As many of you most likely noticed by the end of yesterday’s debate, there were only two candidates on stage. Third parties went unrepresented, as they have been since 1992. I’m not going to harp on that fact – you’ve probably heard about as much as you can take already from the diehard Jill Stein, Gary Johnson or Vermin Supreme supporters in your life. But this leaves a question for those inclined to support a third-party candidate like the Green Party’s Jill Stein.
Our party can essentially be divided into two groups of supporters: those who hate Hillary Clinton because she’s not progressive enough, and those who like Hillary Clinton but don’t think she’s progressive enough. Based on her performance in yesterday’s debate, I’ve decided that I fall firmly in the latter group. I like Clinton. I think she’s an intelligent opponent with great ideas and I think her opponent represents a significant threat to our country, but I wish she would push a bit further. To those who hate Clinton, my advice is clear: vote for Jill Stein. But for people like me who like Clinton, the choice is more complicated.
A lot of us aren’t old enough to remember the 2000 election, but most of us know the story – the results were so close, if just a few Green Party supporters had voted for Al Gore instead, he would have won the election. A lot of people who are swayed by the Green Party’s message may worry that the same could happen this year, and may worry about joining the Greens for fear of hostility towards Clinton supporters. To this group, myself included, I offer a solution.
There is a select group of states that can be considered up-for-grabs by any stretch of the imagination. As the election stands right now, those states are Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Arizona, Virginia, Georgia and Maine. While it’s a long list, these states account for only about a third of the voter pool. To these voters, I offer absolution: A vote for Hill is a vote for Jill. It’s perfectly reasonable to think there’s too much risk in not backing Clinton.
But for voters in other states, those that are already in the bag for Clinton or Trump, a vote for Stein has more impact than a vote for Clinton. If the Green Party receives just five percent of the popular vote in 2016, the candidate in 2020 will be considered a major candidate by the federal government. This will entitle them to campaign funding equal to that offered to the major parties. Just five percent is an attainable goal, and for voters in most states, one they can work toward without hurting Clinton’s chances for the presidency in 2016.
Alex Hayes is the Vice- President for the Hofstra Green Party
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