Looking Past the Party Conventions

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel July 25, 2016

    C1_8734_r_xWith the country so divided right now along party lines, as well as within each of the two major parties, it would be easy for voters to say “The hell with them all,” and sit this election out. Both of the major party candidates have record-setting voter disapproval ratings, assuring that our next president will be starting off their first term knowing that more than half the country did not like them, and would have preferred someone else for president.

    But there really is no other choice this year.

    History of Third Party Candidates

    The reality is third party candidates have a terrible track record in this country, so a vote for the Green Party or the Libertarian Party is, in effect, throwing away your vote. Those who insist on exercising this option may get some emotional satisfaction out of rejecting the two major party candidates, but they are also helping Donald Trump.

    The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 established a Republican-Democrat duopoly that persists even today. Since then we have seen third-party candidates on the presidential ballot in two dozen elections, without success. In fact, most – including Ralph Nader in 2000 and Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 – have failed to win a single electoral vote, do to the winner-take-all nature of the electoral college.

    The last such candidate to secure any electoral votes was segregationist candidate George Wallace in 1968, who won five Southern states in his fight against the civil rights movement. And the most successful third party presidential candidate was Teddy Roosevelt, who bolted the Republican Party to run as a Progressive Party (aka “Bull Moose Party”) candidate in 1912, who won six states and came in second with 27% of the vote, but lost badly to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

    It Matters

    Despite the continuing complaints of dissatisfaction being heard from the cadre of enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporters, in fact Sen. Sanders himself has now acknowledged the inevitable and endorsed Hillary Clinton. Sanders used his popularity with millions of American voters to nudge the Democratic Party platform, and the Democratic candidate, to the left. And that’s a positive development.

    But Sanders also realized the most important priority at this time is to assure that Donald Trump is not elected president.

    Both Hillary Clinton and her vice-presidential running mate Sen. Tim Kaine support the right of the states to continue to experiment with different versions of marijuana legalization, without interference from the federal government. While Donald Trump said he too holds that position, that was not apparent from the language in the Republican platform, that appeared to be heading in the other direction. And with Trump, who could guess what his position will be tomorrow or the next day.

    But more importantly, Donald Trump is a bigoted, racist, ignorant candidate whom no one with a whit of common sense would want running our country, or having his finger on the nuclear button. Merely having him as a major party candidate is an embarrassment for the country, and has sent shockwaves throughout our allies in NATO and other strategic alliances. He is obviously unfit to be president.

    So don’t waste your vote making a political point, knowing it would make it more likely that “the Donald” might somehow squeak through and win this election. Every progressive voter who sits out this election, or who votes for a third party candidate, helps Donald Trump.

    We can all fight among ourselves about specific issues and how best to achieve more progressive policies in this country. But none of us can afford the risk of a Trump presidency.

    73 responses to “Looking Past the Party Conventions”

    1. rockyman63 says:

      something to ponder on.
      Wall Street Crash in October 1929. Desperate for capital, the United States began to recall loans from Europe. One of the consequences of this was a rapid increase in unemployment. Germany, whose economy relied heavily on investment from the United States, suffered more than any other country in Europe.

      Before the crash, 1.25 million people were unemployed in Germany. By the end of 1930 the figure had reached nearly 4 million, 15.3 per cent of the population. Even those in work suffered as many were only working part-time. With the drop in demand for labour, wages also fell and those with full-time work had to survive on lower incomes. Hitler, who was considered a fool in 1928 when he predicted economic disaster, was now seen in a different light. People began to say that if he was clever enough to predict the depression maybe he also knew how to solve it.

      By 1932 over 30 per cent of the German workforce was unemployed. In the 1933 Election campaign, Adolf Hitler promised that if he gained power he would abolish unemployment. He was lucky in that the German economy was just beginning to recover when he came into office. However, the policies that Hitler introduced did help to reduce the number of people unemployed in Germany.

      These policies often involved taking away certain freedoms from employers
      he the ONLY who can make this country. j n w

    2. phrtao says:

      Maybe that was always the plan : that Donald Trump would galvanise support for Hilary Clinton. No point speculating now – people just need to vote to stop Donald Trump (and cronies) getting to the Whitehouse.
      (Could it really happen ????)

      • untrainable says:

        I don’t believe it was ever anyone’s intention that DJT actually win the election. HRC would be smart to change her slogan from “I’m with her” to I’m NOT him” because that is the only reason she will become president. HRC = more war, more wall street shenanigans, more government corruption, more freedoms taken away and, of course, higher taxes. DJT = ?. I guess the Clintons are banking on voters voting for the devil they know.

    3. TLC says:

      If Tim Kaine supports states rights in this area, why did NORML give him an F score? In his own voting record and gateway drug talking points, he has been referred to as an unapologetic drug warrior. I couldn’t find anything that suggested otherwise.

      Not really questioning whether or not NORML got it right, would just like to see any quote from Kaine supporting states rights regarding cannabis.

      [Paul Armentano responds: He made statements to this effect at a hearing in May, after NORML initially released its Scorecard. “I actually kind of like this notion of the states as labs and they can experiment [with legalizing marijuana] and we can see what happens,” he said. His Scorecard grade has since been updated. But he has also made it clear that he personally would not cast a vote in favor of legalization or even decriminalization: http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/07/kaine-and-clinton-agree-respect-state-marijuana-laws/%5D

    4. Cat Cassie says:

      Okay then……Hillary it is.

    5. Rod is on the gas says:

      Lemons turned into lemonade.
      While trump may not be the best of potential presidents, he is far from the worst. The really bad candidates each had their chance in the spotlight same as did Trump.

      Mrs. William Clinton is the absolute worst potential president. Sanders being a Democrat doesn’t improve her track record. Her recorded history is shameful, why isn’t she in jail?

      Trump carries the qualifications of office without much effort. He’s probably going to expose Hillary for the right reasons, keep her out of the Whitehouse.

      • Fumario Ortega says:

        She definitely belongs behind thick bars…Funny Keith didn’t mention any of her shortcomings/scandals. What business practices of Trump are racists/bigoted? They must be somewhere in his long history of putting people to work. Surely a member of the bar wouldn’t commit such a character assignation without intimate knowledge of someone, would they?? At least Trump has stated he advocates states making MJ determinations… And he’s not a proven criminal (see also perjury regarding email releases by Ms. Clinton).

      • Evening Bud says:

        “Trump carries the qualifications of office without much effort.”

        What?! You mean like declaring bankruptcy six times (and making out like a bandit while his investors are left holding the bag)?

        You mean by reneging on his contractual agreements, and forcing his (usually smaller) opponents into court, in expensive and long drawn out trials, to try to recoup their losses?

        You mean by telling the crowds at his rallies to rough up the protestors?

        You mean by suing those who have the temerity to publicly criticize him?

        Such admirable qualifications.

        If his daddy hadn’t left him a small fortune and an army of accountants and financial lawyers, The Donald would undoubtedly have found his calling in the used car business.

        • Thom says:

          How can anyone vote for a liar who can’t even handle a security clearance. Hillary is very BAD news. Vote Trump or not at all.

      • Julian says:

        If by “qualifications” you mean his Con-Artist degree with a major in Bankruptcy from Trump University he can keep his qualifications.
        Bottom line is Drumph profits off of the drug war through laundering campaign and casino money. Drumph accepted recent drug war money turned into campaign money from Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Addleson who is actively blocking passage to Florida’s medical marijuana legalization and successfuly blocked Florida’s full legalization attempt; he has no friends in Congress to get legislation passed much less reform marijuana law.

        Now let’s look at Hillary; She has plenty of friends and pressure in Congress to reform marijuana law. And unlike Drumph, with adequate political pressure, we can get her to sign on to reform. Her biggest flaw is signing on Wasserman Shultz to her campaign. Bad move. Lets see if she recovers from that tonight when she accepts the nomination.

        Drumph is a pathological liar with no hope that he can be lobbied into reliable marijuana law reform.

        Clinton is a compulsive liar with hope that she can be lobbied into reliable marijuana law reform.

        Now vote.

      • Chip says:

        It’s funny.

        Those of my friends who are Trump supporters say OMG YOU CAN’T VOTE THIRD PARTY YOU’RE SUPPORTING CLINTON!

        Those of my friends who are Clinton supporters say OMG YOU CAN’T VOTE THIRD PARTY YOU’RE SUPPORTING TRUMP!

        They’re both wrong.

        A vote for Johnson or Stein is just that, a vote for Johnson or Stein. It’s a rejection of the idea that the Republican or Democratic parties “own your vote” and by not voting for X you’re really voting for Y (regardless of who you actually vote for).

        The idea of the “wasted vote” comes from our “two party system,” which comes directly from our poor method of voting (plurality a.k.a. first past the post). But it only works because people are fooled by the establishment parties into believing that there are, and only should be, two options available. It benefits them, not us.

        Trump is an awful candidate. Clinton is an awful candidate. Neither are trustworthy. Both are warmongers. If you vote for either of them, you’re VOTING IN FAVOR of a megalomaniac who will do or say whatever they think is prudent to win and is perfectly willing to slaughter plenty of innocent folks overseas.

        With due respect to Dr. Stein, Gary Johnson is a very credible candidate. He is a former two-term governor as well as an entrepreneur. He has a shot to get into the debates (and the more that he appears on TV, the better chance he has of that). If he does make the debates, anything can happen.

        NORML has a chance to do something good this year – support a candidate for president who has credible experience (a two-term governor), is not a warmongering lunatic, and supports marijuana legalization … not only that …

        He was for a while the CEO of a MARIJUANA COMPANY.

        NORML is here to support MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION, not “progressive politics,” right?

        If you’re serious about that, endorse Gary Johnson for president. He’s the best shot all of us have to make serious progress in that direction.

    6. Dom says:

      Many Republicans are looking toward the Libertarian Party as a conservative alternative to Trump. Tell me again how a third party vote is automatically a vote for Trump. I guess someone from the Clinton Foundation sat him down and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse…

    7. Sean says:

      Every time someone tells you that your vote is wasted, they’re basically saying your opinions and thoughts are unimportant.

      If you’re not voting for who you actually agree with, if you’re voting because someone is a big scary bad man, you’re a sheep.

    8. Rocky Coast says:

      Dear Mr. Stroup,

      I understand to a degree why you’d prefer HRC over Trump. I write this with much respect for your contributions to the cannabis community.

      There’s no way I’d vote for Trump, who has Chris Christie attached to his butt. That bastard wants to be AG. It’s not Trump I’m worried about; it’s the bigots that are surrounding him. But in regards to cannabis–Neocons like Bush, Walker, and especially Rubio are far worse than Trump.


      The Democrat Party has become increasingly bigoted and racist. Much of this is coming from the HRC camp. While I’m in line with much of the Democrat platform on equality and social issues, I’m going to call a turd a turd. Being prejudiced against white males is still prejudice.

      2. HRC has to earn people’s votes, but she has done her fair share of alienating voters. If Trump wins, don’t blame the American people for not choosing her. It’s on the Democrats, with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz getting special mention.

      I am a real life participant in this election cycle, working as a promoter/idea man for lesser-known Democrat candidate Rocky De La Fuente. He has ended his bid.

      Part of my job description was watching the 2016 election season unfold. I know about David Brock and his efforts to slander Bernie Sanders and his supporters. On Twitter, you could smell these paid Hillary trolls from a mile away.

      I’m a Sanders sympathizer, not necessarily a supporter. But do you really expect Sanders supporters to forget being the targets of wrongful accusations?

      Also, I experienced voter fraud first hand in CA, where it was widespread. De La Fuente experienced it during his campaign.

      Hillary = more Obama, but worse. More forced Globalism, NSA, Common Core BS, TPP, and chipping away at 1st, 2nd, 4th Amendment rights.

      If people don’t vote for either one, it’s not a “political statement”. That’s way too frivolous a term. You can’t force anyone to vote for a damn crook.

      Thank you for reading.

    9. j duree says:

      Voting for either of the major party candidates is a wasted vote. To the extent that one’s vote matters at all (certainly not much at all in Calif which is so completely blue that there is really no contest here) a vote for Trump or Clinton is a vote to support the mainstream American policies of War, Surveillance and mass incarceration.

      • A-non says:

        Here here, every vote that inches us to a televised debate with Liberatarians of either principle or party….

    10. Julian says:

      Thank you Keith for spelling out the limited status of Third Parties in America. Voters need to understand that Trump is grinning ear to ear when people say theyll vote for any third party. It means he can beat Hillary in the general election, and btw, placing your inexperienced kids in charge of your presidential cabinet is no fucking joke, thats just bating nuclear war. Hillary may be a compulsive liar and look the other way while her campaign manager breaks federal law but at least she won’t destroy NATO just to crack some personal deals with Russia. The Clintons will enrich themselves on inside deals for sure, but Trump would make the Bush ties to the Saudi Royal family look like the good ol days.

      I would add I count myself as one who will be slamming down a shot of tequila and lime to disinfect the aftertaste in my mouth after my vote for Hillary in November. With the pending opening of the Democratic convention tonight, Hillary’s distasteful hiring of DWashmoney Shultz in charge of her campaign after blaming the Russians and dismissing the fact she rigged the game, if we ever want to unify under a Democratic platform that aims to legalize marijuana Hillary should just APOLOGIZE to SANDERS and SUPPORT TIM CANOVA!!!
      But THATS not gonna happen, so its up to Sanders to lead the way and mend the Democratic party. If Sanders focuses on Tim Canova replacing the evil prohibitionist DWS as Congressman for Miami Dade, and perhaps if we get a Progressive like Julian Castro or Joaquin Castro to replace DWS as the Democratic chair, there’s a chance the Democratic Party can get our $#!+ together and unite against Drumph-Anslinger in November. Here’s hoping… With some Trainwreck and a bottle of Don Julio…

      • Julian says:

        I meant to add… Let’s focus on voting for Congress and supporting the best grades on the NORML scorecard;
        Donate $15 to Tim Canova
        …it’ll make us feel better about voting for Clinton… (But some Trainwreck REALLY helps!)

      • Dusty Relic says:

        Sorry, no. I fail to see how Hillary is any better than Trump. They both get a C- on the War on Drugs and they are both dishonest and untrustworthy. If you think Hillary will lift one pinky finger to alleviate the ravages of the war on drugs then you are deluded; the Democratic Party Platform will be forgotten on the day she is inaugurated. Trump has as much chance of sticking to the Democratic Party Platform as Hillary does.

        I am voting Libertarian and I do not consider my vote wasted if it is for someone I like and whom I want to see elected. Neither Clinton nor Trump will be good for this country and arguing over which is the lesser evil is just a waste of time.

        Besides, voting for a major candidate is just throwing away your vote because it just gets lost in the noise. But voting for a 3rd party sends a powerful message.

        • Julian says:

          And that message is that you are voting for who you like, and not researching who is better poised to reform marijuana law in the U.S.
          I respect your choice I just think you aren’t reading the facts if you think Trump is a team player. Listen, I don’t like Hillary. She lies too much. But her record shows we can lobby her. And believe me; This Progressive movement will not allow her or any Democratic Congressman steer clear of the platform we worked so hard to build. Democracy is about building and participating… And I respect that it takes votes to build a third party… But the stakes are too high to allow Trump in the Oval office. If a career independent, Bernie Sanders, who introduced legislation in the Senate to deschedule marijuana didn’t split off to run third party and endorsed Hillary to defeat Trump, what does that tell you about casting a vote for any third party during this election?

          • Slim says:

            “We could buy her… like corporations and global interests have done for decades. She’s a terrrrrible person. So is trump. I would rather NOT vote than vote for one of the 2 parties. They are actually pretty much 1 party. Democrats say “we need protection and equality” and Republicans say “ok we’ll get it made real cheap somewhere, once we get our army in there” then Democrats say “we need regulations for all this productivity” then there’s a giant mining disaster or natural disaster and neither parties really give a damn about ordinary people’s lives. There doesn’t need to be a “pathway to legalization” that has existed for decades as well. The public masses are confabulated about Clinton.