Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 42 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/20/18

A Third Party? How Not To Settle For The Lesser Of Two Evils

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   13 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Robert Reich
Become a Fan
  (130 fans)

From Robert Reich Blog


Are you happy with the electoral choices provided you by the two major parties? If not, should you vote for a third party candidate?

Not so fast. Remember what happened in 2016, when Libertarian Gary Johnson got 3.2 percent of the popular vote and Green Party candidate Jill Stein got 1.06 percent. Enough votes that, had they gone to Hillary Clinton, she'd have won the Electoral College, and Donald Trump wouldn't be in the White House.

Oh, and anyone remember what happened in 2000, when the votes that went to Ralph Nader all but sealed the fate of Al Gore, and gave us George W. Bush.

You see the problem? In a winner-take-all system like ours, votes for third party candidates siphon away votes from the major party candidate whose views are closest to that third-party candidate. So by not voting for the lesser of two evils, if that's what you want to call them, you end up with the worse of two evils.

But here's the good news. You've got at least two ways to avoid the lesser of two evils other than voting for a third party candidate.

First, you could build support for your favorite primary candidate inside one of the major parties -- like some of you did for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries.

But, you might say, look what happened to Bernie! The Democratic Party establishment rigged the game against him.

I don't want to open up this particular can of worms, but if a party establishment has a chokehold on the primaries -- the answer isn't to go with a third party and end up with the worse of two evils, but to organize and mobilize inside the party to break that chokehold, as some would say the Tea Party has done in the GOP.

Never underestimate the power of grassroots activism focused like a laser on taking over a major political party that has ossified.

Another way to avoid the lesser of two evils: Get your state to institute ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference.

The process is simple: In the first round, only voters' first choices are counted. If a candidate gets a majority, that's the end of it: That candidate wins. If no candidate gets a majority, the candidate who received the fewest votes is eliminated, and then the second choices of voters who preferred that candidate are counted.

If that gives a majority to one candidate, that candidate wins. If there's still no one with a majority, the process continues, until one candidate gets a majority.

Ranked-choice voting isn't perfect, but it enables you to vote your conscience -- even for a third-party candidate -- without the worry that you're giving ground to the candidate you like least.

The idea is gaining popularity. Last year, some form of ranked-choice voting was proposed in 19 states. In 2016, citizens in Maine initiated a referendum for ranked-choice voting and won. It's already being used in statewide special elections in North Carolina, and in 10 major cities.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Robert Reich Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Trump Cornered

The Republican's Big Lies About Jobs (And Why Obama Must Repudiate Them)

Paul Ryan Still Doesn't Get It

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

What to Do About Disloyal Corporations

The Gas Wars

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend