The recent voting lecture from Lori Sturdevant and Tom Horner (“Minnesotans, don’t be the spoilers,” Sept. 15) could have used a host of other recycled headlines from the duopoly endorsement mantra — headlines such as “Don’t waste your vote on a third party” or “They can never win” or “Let’s just change existing parties from within.”
It gave me a few flashbacks as I fought through the contradictions and arrogance of the piece.
The background was fair and true, explaining Minnesota’s historical embrace of multiparty politics, how “Minnesotans chafe at the binary nature of politics,” and how, in 2016, we saw four times more third-party presidential votes than in 2012.
But then enters the Ragnarok advocate for third-party destruction, Tom Horner. It was correctly pointed out that he was the last great statewide Independence Party candidate, who back in 2010 grabbed a spectacular 12% running for governor. This was the last time the IP surpassed the major party line in Minnesota.
Horner has since spent his time persuading voters to support either side of the duopoly instead. This contradicts the assertion that he “cannot be accused of blind loyalty to the two-party system.” Actually, yes he can.
Exhibit A: On Sept. 29, 2014, Horner’s commentary in the Star Tribune titled “Johnson’s leadership will benefit state” asked everyone to not vote for the party he had just championed, but instead vote for Republican Jeff Johnson in order to oust Democrat Mark Dayton. I issued a counterpoint on Oct. 6, “The Libertarian Party alone now offers true alternative,” expressing disappointment in that advice.
Exhibit B are Horner’s comments in the Sept. 15 piece, where he again suggests voters stay in the two-party system no matter what, but now on the other side. Voters have a duty it seems to vote for a Democrat (fill in the blank) to stop the Republican (the tweeter in chief).
“Don’t be led into third-party temptation in 2020,” Horner is said to advise. “Anything that even potentially detracts from [defeating President Donald Trump] is not a smart vote,” he declares.
It’s hard to see how this can pass for anything besides blind loyalty to the two-party system. Toss in an insult to intelligence for good measure.
It is further claimed that in Minnesota, third parties have it easy with simple ballot access and public campaign funds. This is just flat untrue. Minnesota has prehistoric structural limitations on political parties who attract support in the 1%-5% range to try to keep them at bay. An occasional breakout happens with a famous name like Ventura or any issue like marijuana, but the structure tamps them right back down. In fact the “easy access” laws referred to are so prohibitive and unequal that the Libertarian Party has filed a lawsuit to challenge them.
Changing the two-party system from within has obviously not worked, and it won’t this time either despite advice to vote for the lesser of two evils. Guess what, that means evil still wins. And when those become the only choices, many stay home, which is exactly what they want.
Don’t give in to that. We need more choices and more voices. Go out and vote for the one you believe in. It’s your vote and your conscience. It’s never a waste unless you don’t use it. Don’t listen to people who say you’ll only be spoiling something that is already rotten.
GO OUT AND VOTE HOW YOU WANT TO.
Chris Holbrook is chair of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota.