Okay, after reading the headline, you are probably thinking, “No third party candidate can win the White House.” You may have been someone like me who once voted for one in the past, but then afterwards your candidate lost and you felt you wasted your vote. I know all your concerns, but this year is truly different.
Let’s look at the 1980 presidential election results – this was the year I first voted in a presidential election. In that contest we had incumbent Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter, Republican former California governor Ronald Reagan, and Congressman John B. Anderson (R-Ill.) who ran as the Independent Party candidate.
Anderson appealed to people who didn’t like either candidate for the major parties. I cast my vote for him because he had taken Democrat Patrick Lucey (former governor of Wisconsin) as his running mate, and I thought he would bring the country together (there was division even back then). His stand on the issues of the time appealed to me much more than what I had heard from the other candidates. I also believed that Anderson would be more qualified than Reagan and take the country in a better direction than Carter.
You may look at the results – everyone knows Reagan won with 51% of the popular vote to Carter’s 41% - and say but Anderson only got 6.6% of the popular vote and no Electoral College votes. While this is true, more than five million Americans pushed the lever for him if, for no other reason, as a vote of good conscience because there was no way they were voting for the other guys.
Now, flash forward to 2016, and the situation has drastically changed. There is no incumbent running, which alters the playing field. Yes, Mrs. Clinton is backed by current President Barack Obama, but she is plagued by a possible indictment for the email server debacle as well as the accusations that the Clinton Foundation is corrupt. The shenanigans of her spouse, former President Bill Clinton, also account for problems with her candidacy.
The “presumptive” Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has caused much controversy with off the cuff comments about everything from soup to (perhaps he is totally) nuts. Trump’s position on key issues changes more than the weather, and his antics have caused a disturbance within his own party and shaken his support.
So, while these two candidates seem like damaged goods, Bernie Sanders is off to the side looking much more presidential and not encumbered by major controversies. The huge crowds that turn out to hear him speak, the fervent enthusiasm of his supporters, and his reasonable demeanor during this campaign (while others have been mudslinging) all speak of the caliber of his potential presidential timber.
We also are aware of the pernicious attempts by the Democratic National Committee to undermine his candidacy from the start. Hillary (The Anointed One) Clinton was in Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s favor from the beginning, and everything was done to promote Hillary and keep Bernie out of the limelight. Consider how the media neglected to cover his events with the same attention as they did with Hillary, and you will understand the power of the DNC.
You may cite recent polls that give Hillary an 11% or more lead over Trump, but if you want to bank on those numbers I have a tall building in NYC I’d like to sell you. Poll numbers – along with their margins for error – are insignificant and will tend to lull people into a false sense of security that Hillary can beat Trump.
Consider veteran newsman Dan Rather's opinion (coming from someone who has a long and distinguished career covering presidential elections and presidents) when he noted that “Democrats who want Hillary Clinton to be president should be afraid. They should be very, very afraid.” Rather went on to make it clear that Trump’s popularity and chance for victory rests in what people think he will change, while Clinton comes off as the one to maintain a status quo that many people don’t like.
If you are really into poll results, consider that most polls show Sanders beating Trump by a much wider margin than Hillary. Bernie Sanders appeals to those Republicans who don’t like Trump all that much but would (and I have heard this said hundreds of time) “Vote for anyone other than Hillary.” Sanders also appeals to Independents like me who couldn’t vote for him in the primaries, and he appeals to Democrats who don’t like Hillary and are also looking for the changes that Sanders hopes to introduce if he is elected.
If you like numbers, polls indicate most Americans want Bernie to stay in the race. Who knows what his primary numbers would have been if the DNC, the media, and Clinton had not conspired to keep Bernie voters away from the polls – or in some cases even not allowing them to vote when they got to the polls. Consider before the California primary – before one person cast a ballot – that the media declared Hillary the winner. Of course, many Sanders voters would not go to the polls then. If this doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, get your taste buds checked.
So all Bernie supporters, Independents, and Democrats and Republicans who are not satisfied with their “presumptive nominees,” should band together and make Bernie’s third party candidacy a reality. There will be enough votes – more than enough if all the disenfranchised cast ballots – to leave Hillary and Trump in the dust where they belong.
Run, Bernie, run – run as an Independent. Your country needs you, so please do not quit. If you do not run then I for one will not vote in a presidential election for the first time since 1980, and I imagine there are many others out there just like me who cannot force themselves to pull the lever for the other candidates. It is for me, even after all these years, still a matter of good conscience.
Photo Credit: CNN, FOX News