An open letter to Millennials and voters considering voting Third Party

Dear Millennials and Citizens Considering Voting Third Party,

I do understand and respect your idealism and hopeful (for some, desperate) desire for change. Washington is, in many ways, a broken embarrassment of a federal government. It is hyper-partisan and beholden to money and special interests. It enacted and now selfishly profits from gerrymandering, a grotesque distortion of areas that privileges some (most egregiously the elected official) against many and extreme ideology versus willingness to compromise. 

It is youthful idealism and a sincere desire for things better that often propels a society forward. We must never inhibit hope. I remember being so deeply hopeful myself: the right and just ways forward often seem so clear, and bureaucracy and glacial progress so stupid and frustrating. 

And yet.

And yet, idealism is just the start. A beautiful start that nonetheless needs tempering by loss and reality. I mean no condescension in that. It's just that as a mother now, for example, I understand my own mother so differently. Understand her fatigue and limits and worries and upset in a new way. And while I mother differently because of that, I also mother the same because of that. Because of the wisdom and simple truths in what needs to happen versus what I sometimes wish would.

I understand your desire to make a statement by voting third party. I do. I was a huge Ross Perot fan way back when. I even put his campaign sticker on my beloved hair dryer, melting it onto the plastic orange shaft forever more. 

But I beseech you to see that because we don't have a multiparty political system, as votes for Ralph Nader proved in the Bush-Gore election, that pivotal election when you were just babes, third party votes are wasted ones. I repeat: without a Third Party system, votes for Third Party candidates are, ultimately, always a vote for someone else: the less-popular candidate who would otherwise come in second. That tips the math against the more popular candidate. On November 9, a vote for Johnson or Stein is, overall but especially in swing states, a vote for Trump. Please know that. Please believe that. And please see below for what Johnson and Stein believe in.

I wish so much about our politics were different. I would love to see a multiparty system as well as the abolition of the electoral college, gerrymandering, years-long campaigning, and Citizens United. But I know that those changes won't happen overnight or in a country in which only one of two candidates will, as things are structured now, win. Currently, a protest vote isn't a a vote for the greater, idealized good; it's a wasted act of defiance that, sadly, doesn't carry weight in the way you hope it will or wish it would.

If you love this country and worry about jobs and the economy and racism and our status in the world, if you care about the next judges seated on the Supreme Court and someone who will deal with the horrid socioeconomic inequality and systemic bigotry in our criminal justice system, if you want someone who appreciates science and honors fact, who will work proactively to tend to our Earth, I urge you to vote against a Trump presidency. The only way to do that is to vote for Clinton.

As you may have seen in the first debate, Trump is not informed, he is not kind, he is not curious. He is petulant and rude and self-absorbed. I can't imagine how anyone can do anything but help ensure he is not elected. Otherwise, you're part of the problem, now and with regard to the repercussions that will follow.

A 40-year-old from Louisiana now living in Maryland
Gary Johnson:
- supports TPP.
- supports fracking.
- supports Citizens United.
- opposes net neutrality.
- wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and is open to privatization.
- opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
- opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
- supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
- opposes any government action to address climate change.
- wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
- seems to think that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
- wants to remove the Fed's mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
- wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.
- could not name a single foreign leader when asked. He finally said, "the former Mexican president."

Jill Stein:
- is wholly pro-environment and clean energy and wants to transition to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030. She is against fracking.
- wants to set a mandatory $15/hour federal minimum wage, break up “too-big-to-fail” banks and democratize the Federal Reserve. She wants to provide free universal childcare.
- wants to establish an improved “Medicare For All” single-payer public health insurance program to provide everyone with quality health care. She wants to llow full access to contraceptive and reproductive care and expand women's access to "morning after" contraception by lifting the Obama Administration's ban.
- wants to replace NAFTA and other corporate free trade agreements that export American jobs, depress wages, and undermine the sovereign right of Americans and citizens of other countries to control their own economy and political choices. She is pro-union.
- wants to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act which banned secondary boycotts and permitted state "right-to-work" laws. 
- wants to guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university, and abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude.
- wants to end the war on drugs, legalize marijuana/hemp, release nonviolent drug offenders from prison, end police brutality, mass incarceration and institutional racism, and demilitarize police.
- wants to repeal the Patriot Act, abolish the death penalty, and ban drone use for purposes of killing.
- wants to abolish the Electoral College, reinstate section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, and enact statehood for D.C.