Libertarian Gary Johnson defeated Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party in a four-way debate last night moderated by Larry King and sponsored by… who cares.
Johnson summed up the night in his plea for votes:
“Wasting your vote is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in,” an impassioned Johnson said. “That’s wasting your vote. I’m asking everybody here, I’m asking everybody watching this nationwide to waste your vote on me.”
Waste your vote in me, indeed.
I’m going to rile up a few of my libertarian friends with this, but in my opinion, voting third party is a wasted vote when third party candidates have no chance of winning, and in this election none do. Politics is a game of accommodation and finance, and third-party candidates typically champion positions that do not allow for accommodation/negotiation, and they don’t have enough of a financial base to gain traction and publicity. Ross Perot was a rare exception to this rule, as a fairly articulate candidate with a popular and easily understandable financial platform and the ability to self-fund his campaign.
If third party supporters want to make a real difference, the time to act is long before election day. They need to infiltrate and build support within one of the two primary parties that we currently have, put their positions on the party plank, and take over the party from the inside.
Communists and Socialists did this when they slowly took over the Democratic Party (Barack Obama was a candidate for the socialist New Party in the 1990s), and the Tea Party has come out of nowhere to take a significant role in the 2010 mid-terms before wisely starting to build roots at the state and local level to take over the Republican Party from the inside in years to come.
If you want to win, if you want true change, you invade the system and take it over.
Otherwise, your third party vote is just some tragically hip statement, like drinking crappy beer and listening to bad indie music.