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The Case For (And Against) Voting Third Party

Jill Stein and Gary Johnson told Newsy their arguments for voting third party, but there are also a lot of arguments against doing that.
Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 10, 2016

We asked both Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and Green party nominee Jill Stein why they think a vote for a third-party candidate isn't just throwing a vote away.

"A wasted vote is a vote for someone you don't believe in," Johnson said.

"When people say that I would be taking votes away from Hillary, they're kind of buying this new propaganda that politicians, establishment politicians, have a new kind of entitlement — they are entitled to our votes, they are entitled to our support," Stein said. "They have to earn it."

SEE MORE: Millennials Choose Third-Party Candidates Over Donald Trump

OK, so we know what the two leading third-party advocates think about stealing votes. But is that an idealistic view? If we look at recent history, we see third-party candidates who, in the best-case scenarios, didn't get a single electoral vote but did pull support from the candidate who lined up with them the most.

In 1992, it was Ross Perot, who might've tanked George H.W. Bush's second run.

In 2000, it was the Democrats turn with Ralph Nader who's accused of dragging down Al Gore's vote in Florida, pushing George W. Bush into the White House.

Another thing critics of a third-party vote want you to consider is privilege.

This tweet has been shared thousands of times: "Imagine being so white that voting for a third party just to 'prove a point' is a risk you can afford to take."

"Check your white privilege, please ... People of color in this country can't afford it, young people in this country with a trillion dollars worth of student debt can't afford it, older people who depend on social security can't afford it, immigrants and families who have immigrants in them can't afford it," said radio host Thom Hartmann.

OK, so those are some of the main arguments against voting third party. But this election feels kind of different, doesn't it?

SEE MORE: The Presidential Debates Might Have A Third Podium After All

We have two of the most unpopular candidates ever. Hillary Clinton's favorability rating is around -11 points, and Donald Trump's is around -28.

Add to this, recent polling suggests about 42 percent of Americans identify as independents — more than Democrats or Republicans — and you can see why the climate for a third-party run is a little friendlier this year.

So what do you think? Do Americans have an obligation to pick between the two major parties? Tweet me at @KGrumke.

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