WASTED VOTES

Stein, Johnson could help Trump

The third-party candidates in the presidential race — Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party — aren’t very well-known and have virtually no chance of winning. Their support comes chiefly from young voters ages 18 to 39, according to new polls, and their appeal seems to be mainly that they’re not Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

Although the new polls don’t suggest that the small parties are giving Trump an advantage, the Clinton campaign isn’t taking any chances and is renewing its outreach to young voters.

Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, is probably best known for saying, “What is Aleppo?” when asked about the embattled Syrian city during an MSNBC interview. Voters considering him will want to know what his party really stands for. It opposes most federal spending, including on public education and college assistance. It opposes the income tax, including on the richest Americans.

The Libertarians believe health care should be handled by the private sector — goodbye, veterans’ hospitals — and would end Social Security. The party is devoted to free trade and dislikes any international trade treaties, including those that protect workers. The party is against all forms of foreign aid and military assistance, and a direct attack on the U.S. is the only instance in which Libertarians favor a military response.

Johnson draws less than 10 percent in the polls that include the third-party candidates.

Stein, the Green Party candidate, is a Harvard-trained doctor and environmental activist. She is running on a “Power to the People Plan,” which she says “creates deep system change, moving from the greed and exploitation of corporate capitalism to a human-centered economy.” She wants the federal government to “buy” all existing student loan debt, at a cost of about $1.3 trillion. That’s about one-third of what the entire federal government spent in 2015 — on everything. She also would throw in free public university education. These proposals are so off-the-charts unaffordable that they would never pass any Congress, regardless of which political party held a majority.

Stein proposes to slash military spending in half and close every U.S. military base on foreign soil — some 700, including bases used in the war on terrorism, as bulwarks against Russian and Chinese aggression, and as staging areas for humanitarian assistance to victims of war and disaster.

Stein polls at around 3 percent. On CNN last month she said, “I will have trouble sleeping at night if Donald Trump is elected. I will also have trouble sleeping at night if Hillary Clinton is elected.” But since neither Stein nor Johnson has a prayer of winning, a vote for either of them could put Trump one tiny step closer to victory.

FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE NEW YORK TIMES