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Of the many third party candidates on offer, three stand out for having the most ballot access and therefore the best chance of victory, “best” understood as more than zero.

It’s Not a Party Unless There’s a Third-Party: The Not Trump/Not Clinton Vote

Steve Russell

A failure to vote for Donald Trump is a vote for Hillary Clinton, and a failure to vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for Donald Trump. So partisans will tell you, and they are probably correct.

Of the many third party candidates on offer, three stand out for having the most ballot access and therefore the best chance of victory, “best” understood as more than zero.

The two major third parties nominated the same two candidates in 2012 and 2016 — Gary Johnson, the Libertarian, got .99 percent of the vote in 2012, and Jill Stein the Green Party candidate, got .36 percent. Both are likely to do better this time because both the Democratic and Republican candidates are as unpopular as any candidate could be and still get nominated.

Another third-party candidate is Evan McMullin, who is running as an independent. He is on the ballot in 11 states and has write-in status in 19 more. He is coming at Clinton and Trump—mostly Trump—from the right. He isn’t polling well at all, but he, oddly, has the best chance of the three of getting to the White House. It’s the longest of longshots, but it exists.

McMullin is plausible in one scenario. If Trump and Clinton battle to an Electoral College draw, the election will go to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. McMullin claims, correctly, that he is more of a Republican than Trump.

McMullin is a Mormon, a graduate of Brigham Young University and the Wharton School of Business. He has worked for the investment bank behemoth Goldman, Sachs, and for the CIA. His last gig before running for president was chief policy director of the House Republican Conference. From 2013 to 2015, he advised the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He has many friends and supporters in the House.

He selected as his running mate Mindy Finn, a businesswoman and founder of a nonprofit called Empowered Women. She earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Boston University and a Master’s in Political Management from George Washington University.

Many Indians will find it significant that McMullin has been endorsed by the most rabid Indian fighter in modern times, Slade Gorton, who lost his senate seat when all the Indian tribes in Washington united behind Maria Cantwell. Sen. Cantwell won a squeaker in 2000 after a recount.

It did not help Gorton that the Sierra Club gave him an “environmental batting average” of zero and the League of Conservation Voters named him one of their “Dirty Dozen.” Opponents of the Crown Jewel open pit gold mine in Okanogan County, Washington were defeated when Gorton amended a “must pass” appropriations bill to authorize the project. Opponents of open pit pollution dubbed him “Cyanide Slade,” for the most common poison in gold mine waste.

The Green Party candidate is Dr. Jill Stein. She got her B.A., magna cum laude, and her M.D. from Harvard. She is a perennial Green candidate for various offices and once prevailed in an election to the Lexington, Massachusetts town meeting. A common criticism of Dr. Stein is science denial—not just her flirtations with anti-vaccination activists and homeopathy, but rather denial of political science.

Stein is a “non-politician,” like Trump. Those who think it’s a qualification to be POTUS that the candidate is “not a politician” show as much disregard for history as they do for political science.

Stein is on the correct side of most issues Indians believe important—sovereignty, the environment, education, Indian Health Service---but there is no reason, based on her education or experience, to believe she can get policy from her head into the law books.

Stein’s VP choice, Ajamu Baraka, does not list his alma mater. Tertiary sources indicate he attended C.C.N.Y. and Clark Atlanta University graduate school, but I’ve been unable to determine what he studied and whether he graduated.

Baraka holds views that are too far outside the mainstream for a serious candidate. Jimmy Carter has been accused of being “anti-Israel” because he’s willing to call out either side in the Middle East, but Baraka does not even pretend even-handedness. If Israel did it, then it was wrong.

He has also bought into enough conspiracy theories to give Trump a run for his money. He favors abolishing prisons, as do a tiny group of radical criminologists, none of whom are running for VP.


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