Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What could happen If the Green Party gets just 5% of the popular vote in 2016?

Day in and day out, I see the shaming by Clinton supporters in social media. They want anyone and everyone who would even think of voting for Jill Stein to swallow their pride and their anger and vote for Hillary Clinton.

These same Clinton supporters don't seem to have any empathy for the Sanders supporters who were cheated out of a nomination. They appear to lack empathy for Sanders supporters who are voting for Jill Stein in the face of clear and convincing evidence of bias against Bernie Sanders by the top brass at the DNC. As Jill Stein has put it Clinton supporters don't care about the people who support Jill Stein, they only care about their votes:



I think there is a subtext to the idea that we should vote for Hillary rather than Jill. Clinton's team and supporters wouldn't want to see a third party, much less the Green Party, get 5% of the vote or better. Why is it so important to get 5% of the vote for Jill Stein? The Independent Voter Network (IVN) has asked that question and in this article, they point to the Federal Election Commission to provide at least one answer:
PARTY CONVENTION AND GENERAL ELECTION GRANTS
The presidential nominee of each major party may become eligible for a public grant of $20,000,000 plus COLA (over 1974). For 2012, the grant was approximately $91,241,400 for each major party nominee. However, the two major party presidential nominees in 2012 opted out of the public financing program in the general election. Candidates themselves may not raise any other funds to be used for campaigning during the general election period. The general election limit for publicly funded candidates for 2016 is $96,140,600.
Public grants of $18,248,300 went to each of the major parties for their conventions in 2012. On April 3, 2014, President Barack Obama signed legislation to end the public funding of presidential nomination conventions.
Since no third-party candidate received 5% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election, only the Republican and Democratic parties were eligible for 2012 convention grants, and only their nominees were eligible to receive grants for the general election once they were nominated. Third-party candidates could qualify for public funds retroactively if they received 5% or more of the vote in the general election.
Getting that 5% of the popular vote is a big step to becoming a major party in the United States and would free up millions in grants and matching funds for the Green Party, retroactively. The IVN estimates that Jill Stein and Gary Johnson each would have to garner 15 million votes to get to 5%. If even one third party nails it, that could have major implications for the 2020 presidential election.

There are some who say that the Greens and the Libertarians simply haven't reached critical mass, that they don't really have enough people in state or federal office to support a run for president. If we see them at all in office, we see them in a few city councils and education boards (that's why I try to remind people that there are hundreds of Berniecrats running for office, still).

For generations, third party candidates and the independents like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, have faced enormous opposition from a mainstream media culture that is evidently hostile to third parties and independents. The mainstream media is loathe to mention third parties at all, but only do so lately to appear "fair and balanced". Bernie Sanders changed party affiliation from independent to Democrat to run for president because he is acutely aware of media hostility to anyone other than Democrats or Republicans.

I've seen the emails between HRC, the DNC and the media. It's clear that they were all colluding to make sure that nothing would stand in the way of a Clinton victory in November. I will grant that in this election, they have the upper hand. But getting that 5% of the vote, now that looks like some of the low hanging fruit of change I've discussed on this blog before. It wouldn't cost that much to get it and it would yield enormous dividends if the Green Party achieved at least that much.

If you're in a swing state, a state where it's difficult to tell if Clinton or Trump would win, you might avoid months of ostracism by not voting for a third party (or just not letting anyone know how you voted). To be fair, voting is supposed to be anonymous and it really shouldn't matter to anyone else who you voted for. But it is your choice to share how you voted with whomever you like.

If you're not in a swing state, you can vote for Jill Stein and let your friends and family know it without fear of reprisal.  Your vote "won't matter" if you live in a state that has overwhelming support in favor of either Trump or Clinton. But it's that popular vote count that matters to the Green Party to get those grants and matching funds.

5% of the popular vote is much easier to reach than even a few electoral voters because in the place called Lesterland, where big money rules, the winner takes all. In other words, in any given state, if one candidate wins the majority of the votes, all of the electoral votes in that state goes to that candidate. Take note that electors can still vote for whomever they want no matter the popular vote, but usually, they vote with their state majority vote just to be nice. I would love to get rid of the electoral college, but this is what we have now.

So go forth and go Green - and don't forget about the Berniecrats.
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