Gary Johnson Is Not a Spoiler


Johnson Deserves a Place in the National Debate

There is very little that can anger libertarians more than telling them that they’re throwing their vote away. People who want to escape the two-party paradigm are immediately derided. People tell them it’s one or the other. Chicken or fish. Coke or Pepsi. They can’t be allowed to express themselves by voting for a “spoiler” like Gary Johnson.

The term “spoiler” suggests that the two major-party candidates own the presidency through some sort of divine right. A third-party candidate can only serve to spoil the rule of God’s anointed candidates. Thus, Governor Johnson is merely engaging in some quixotic exercise and should be ignored.

In reality, such sentiments are nothing more than partisan nonsense. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the president must be a Republican or Democrat. By our founding fathers’ standards, we’d be better off abandoning our preference for political factions.

Some arguments still remain very popular in disparaging third party bids. However, when exposed to the light of logic, they shrivel up every time.

A Vote For X is a Vote for Y

The notion that by voting for one candidate you’re actually supporting another is ludicrous. The most popular manifestation of this idea this cycle is that by voting for Johnson, you’re actually voting for Hillary. This logic is fairly curious, and in the best-case interpretation is plain dishonest.

Consider a situation where Trump gets 45% of the vote, Hillary gets 35%, and Johnson gets 20%. While Trump may appear to win the election here, by the logic of the ‘vote for X is a vote for Y’ crowd, Hillary becomes victorious if by adding Johnson’s votes to hers.

It’s not difficult to see why this is ridiculous and holds no connection to reality. Of course, Johnson’s votes only count for Johnson. Given this, it’s bizarre that people act like voting for him would help either of the other candidates.

And there’s no guarantee that Johnson voters would naturally revert to Trump or Hillary in his absence. They may choose to not even vote at all. Much like how Ross Perot actually pulled an equal amount of votes away from Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, Gary Johnson could very well pull from each side.

Let’s not forget 50% of the electorate is independent voters who owe no loyalty to either party.

Even if Johnson were to cover the margin of defeat for Trump, it doesn’t mean Johnson would be a spoiler. Libertarian Robert Sarvis covered the margin of Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s defeat in the Virginia governor’s race in 2013. However, exit polls showed that Ken would’ve lost by even more without Sarvis drawing votes from his opponent.

You Must Choose the Lesser of Two Evils

Another popular refrain is that we have to choose the “less bad” of two candidates. We can’t afford a presidency of candidate X so we must vote Y. While this has been parroted from election to election, it overstates the difference between major party candidates.

Both advocate for different flavors of authoritarianism. Hillary wants to be your mom, nurturing you from cradle to grave. Trump wants to be your dad, imposing his will with ironclad rules.

There is no reason to believe that the state’s power will recede under either presidency. While people continue to vote for the “lesser evil,” evil has continually found it’s way into office. Even if Johnson doesn’t win, he can still set the stage for future elections. At some point, evil will cease to hold the presidency.

Gary Johnson Can’t Win

If Johnson gets a majority of electoral votes, he wins. Plain and simple. If every person who said they’d vote for Johnson if they thought he could win did so, he would in fact win. Again, most voters are not affiliated with a major party, anyway! So telling Americans only a candidate from a major party can win ignores the reality of the electorate.

As noted by the Denver Post, he may not even need a majority to win. By winning as little as one state, Johnson could prevent Hillary and Trump from reaching 270 electoral votes, which would send the election to the House of Representatives to decide. At that point, Johnson could prove to be the most palatable option.

What critics generally mean is that the odds are stacked against him. This is true.

The Commission on Presidential debates sets an arbitrary 15% polling requirement to debate. Many polls don’t include third party candidates. However, that seems to be changing. With Johnson reaching 13% in a CNN poll, he’s certainly on the right track.

If Johnson makes the debate stage, all bets are off. Battling with two historically unpopular candidates, a principled advocate for liberty could turn the tide. Then, it’s no longer about the lesser of two evils. A vote for Johnson truly will be considered a vote for Johnson. The future of the country will become too important not to elect him instead of an egomaniac or a literal criminal.

The two-party system has continued to manipulate Americans while expanding the powers of the state. Trump built his appeal on his outsider status, all while not-so-quietly espousing nationalistic statism. Hillary embodies everything wrong with politics, and will keep America’s crony-capitalist environment healthy. If there was ever a time for a political race to be spoiled, this is it.

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