Reporter's Notebook

The Hunger for a Third Party in 2016
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Readers debate the need for, and the merits of, third-party candidates against the Republican-Democratic duopoly.

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Could a Third Party 'Spoil' This Election? Cont'd

The Libertarian readers in the earlier installment of our discussion would be heartened by the new piece from Nora showing a surge of support for Gary Johnson:

If Gary Johnson wants to make it onto a primetime presidential-debate stage as the Libertarian Party’s nominee, he needs to qualify by polling above 15 percent. … Johnson just got good news: A poll released Tuesday morning shows the candidate with 10 percent of the national vote.

As Nora notes, that 10 percent is roughly twice as high as Johnson’s figures from 2012. But that boost isn’t enough to convince this reader, Mark, that Johnson has a real shot:

I would love to support alternative parties in the U.S. However, there are serious problems with current options. To name a few:

Most have very small or no local party infrastructure. The machinery that gets out the vote, arranges campaign events, gets petitions signed, etc., are crucial to national elections. The two most viable small parties, Greens and Libertarians, do have some local support and have had limited success getting local and even state candidates elected. But those successes are few and far between, and have had little effect on party growth.

Because they are so small, they have been refuges for the discontented and malcontents. Having followed Facebook pages and newsletters for Greens, I have been discouraged by the level of internal discourse, with little consensus even on the real role of the party: social pressure group or political party. Without a clear direction, the party flounders on many issues.

Clare Foran reports from Philly on Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s effort to court Sanders supporters:

So, can Stein really lead a political revolution? Her diagnosis of the problems plaguing the country isn’t so different from Sanders’s assessment. Like the senator, she sees a country overrun by big money and corporate power. She wants to make health care a right, break up big banks, and ensure that high-quality education is accessible for Americans. Stein has also embraced positions that put her to the left of the senator. At the Bernie-or-Bust rally, she called for reparations as part of a conversation on fighting racism rooted in the “criminal institution of slavery.”

A reader writes:

One of the Jill Stein supporters in Foran’s article says, “I won’t vote for Hillary....There’s no unity.” Except there is. Clinton won the popular vote and the delegate vote. She’s won over most Bernie voters. [According to Pew polling, 90 percent of Sanders supporters say they’ll vote for Clinton.]  She’s winning some Republicans who are terrified of Trump. [According to a new WaPo/ABC poll, Clinton is getting 13 percent of Republicans.] She’s got a powerful endorsement from our beloved president. There is a growing sense of the dramatic difference between her and Trump, and between the Democratic and Republican visions for the country, and Clinton is taking the baton from Obama to carry ours forward.

Stein and the dead-enders who support her are living in a dreamworld. They are the mirror image of the Sarah Palin/Michelle Bachmann tea-partiers—disconnected from reality and the rest of the the country—just coming from the other end of the spectrum. If Stein runs and helps Trump win, she will be the pariah of my lifetime.

A reader debate in May over the Green Party is here if you’re interested. Here’s another reader on Clare’s piece—which is titled, “Can Jill Stein Lead a Revolution?”:

She CAN lead a revolution. But, like most revolutions, it will fail if she insists on working outside the current system. The purists on the left are helping Trump.

We’ve seen this before.