On Election Day of 2012, I did not repeat the vote that I cast for Barack Obama in 2008. Instead, I cast my vote for Jill Stein, the Green Party’s candidate. Dr. Stein was a write-in in the state of Indiana and was not likely to take more that 1% of the national popular vote. So, why? Why did I cast my vote for someone who I knew would lose?
I initially decided to vote for Obama, but as the campaign season wore on, it became more and more important that Mitt Romney would capture Indiana’s 11 electoral votes and that voting for Obama would only be a token gesture. This freed me up to vote for who I really wanted, not vote for who I thought would do less damage.
After investigating the candidate from the Justice, Constitution, Libertarian, and Green Parties, I finally decided on the Green Party candidates, Dr. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala. Their campaign was based around a Green New Deal, a set of commitments and goals that would improve access to and quality of education, higher investments in newer technologies, the fight against climate change, and ending unemployment.
Abandoning the Democrats
Since my first election in 2006, I have typically voted Democrat. I was aware of the third parties from high school but did not pay much attention. After witnessing the gridlock that just got worse and worse after the Democrats took Congress in 2006, I became wearier and wearier of the partisanship and bickering. I also grew tired of what I saw as a false choice: Republican or Democrat. That was when I started looking at third parties.
I voted for Obama in 2008, both in the Primary and General Elections, because I thought he was a new type of politician, one who could unite the factions and get things done. Unfortunately, many of the idea presented and argued by both Republicans and Democrats are typically tired and unimaginative. To make things worse, many of those ideas get attached to partisan debates, watered down, and twisted until they are mostly useless.
With the obstructionism of Congressional Republicans and their subsequent taking of the House of Representatives, I realized that the system that we have had so far has served us well for a long time, but no longer. We need alternative candidates.
I will likely vote for Democrats in the future. They tend to be the more left-leaning politicians, even if they are mostly in the center now. Most races don’t have more than two options. Occasionally, a Libertarian will sneak in. I am not a huge fan of the Democrats but I normally like them better than their Republican rivals.
Jill Stein was a registered write-in candidate in Indiana. In fact, she was on the ballot in 39 states and a registered write-in candidate in an additional seven states, Indiana included. I can definitely say that writing in a candidate is not a straightforward process, especially with electronic voting systems. We need more third-party candidates on more ballots and not as write-ins.
We also need to include these candidates in the major Presidential debates, from which they are typically excluded. This year, Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were arrested trying to enter the Hofstra debate. A candidate could be on the ballot in 80% of the country but be excluded from a major televised debate. This keeps the general population that these people exist and it perpetuates the erroneous notion that there are only two options for President.
I plan on connecting with the Green Party and trying to get their candidates on more ballots in any way I can. I am also planning on contacting the major news outlets and other organizations responsible for the Presidential debates and urging them to include more candidates. I urge you to do the same. The situation is not likely to change unless we work to change the system.