Hillary Clinton

'Trump Bad' Is Not a Good Enough Argument to Discourage Third-Party Votes, Democrats

Refuse to actually engage with the reasons the electorate dislikes Clinton and she might lose.

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Hillary Clinton
Douliery Olivier/Sipa USA USA/Newscom

According to The New York Times, the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign are keenly aware that they are losing votes to third-party candidates, especially the votes of the under-35 crowd. Well, good for them for noticing! So … how are they approaching this problem? Let's see:

"We'll be launching a multimillion-dollar digital campaign that talks about what's at stake and how a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump, who is against everything these voters stand for," said Justin Barasky, a strategist for Priorities USA.

Mrs. Clinton may also get an assist from one Democrat who has been largely quiet about the race, but can testify to the importance of resisting the third-party temptation: former Vice President Al Gore. Her staff has had conversations with aides to Mr. Gore about bringing him onto the campaign trail to emphasize the importance of supporting Mrs. Clinton if they want to make progress on combating climate change.

Oh … well, this is going to fail miserably. There are indeed some elements of this election that are beginning to look an awful lot like the George W. Bush/Gore match-up that saw third-party candidates pulling off a number of votes in a close race. At least it feels that way at the moment due to the narrowing of the poll numbers separating Clinton and Trump.

The strategy detailed above suggests that after all this time, the Democrats have still learned not a single thing about the behavior of third-party voters. And it suggests that, just as with Gore's loss, should Clinton fail come November, there are going to be a number of people who will blame those who refused to comply with the demand that they fall in line with the major parties.

The people who don't vote for Clinton will be blamed for Clinton's loss, which, while I suppose that's logically true, is ultimately a way for party leadership from having to face the fact that they've lined up behind a deeply unpopular, unlikeable candidate with a reputation for secrecy, dishonesty, and corruption, and then wondered why their campaign calling Trump secretive, dishonest, and corrupt didn't work.

Back in 2013, when some Republicans were upset that a Libertarian Party candidate was going to impact the outcome of the Virginia governor's race, I wrote a short piece about the mentality of third-party voters. This was an effort to try to get the establishment-oriented Republicans and Democrats to avoid the trap that the Clinton campaign appears to be falling into: treating third-party voters as though they're wayward partisans who are acting out and need to be brought into line.

During the Republican Primary, I brought those points back to help explain the behavior of Trump's supporters, who were voting in a manner very reminiscent to those who turn to third parties. They were not interested in supporting the Republican Party's favortie candidates and did not care if their decision ultimately helped Hillary Clinton come November. They were not party loyalists. Whether their grievances were supported by reality or not, they felt betrayed by the Republican establishment.

Looking over this list of third-party voter analysis, it's easy to make a case that it all still applies to this national election. Anybody trying to get third-party voters to pull the lever for Clinton or Trump (but especially Clinton), needs to absorb this mindset:

We don't like your candidate. I remain mystified every single time I have to bring this up. Clinton is probably the most disliked candidate that the Democratic Party has put forward in contemporary times. Trump, of course, is also extremely disliked. The result here has been an argument over which candidate is worse and disdain and condescension directed toward those who suggest that they're equally bad or somehow both equally undeserving of our votes.

But the mentality of a third-party voter rejects the debate over which of the two candidates is worse. Once the voter decides neither candidate is worthy of their vote, they do not care that a third-party choice superficially "helps" one candidate or another. Third-party voters do not want Clinton to win. While it's also true that they don't want Trump to win, that's a side effect of voting for Clinton that they're willing to accept. Why? Because they don't want Hillary Clinton to be president.

Accept that, Democrats. Internalize it. Third-party voters do not want Clinton to win. They don't care that you sneer at them over it. You are not entitled to their support.

You need to make the actual case for your candidate. The Clinton campaign does actually have a lot of policy-focused content, but the campaign itself seems heavily focused on how bad Trump is. Note that the example above is about bringing in Gore to promote a climate change-fighting platform, which may appeal to some potential Jill Stein voters.

But for likely Gary Johnson voters, Clinton has a problem. A lot of positions and issues that push libertarian-leaning voters away from Trump also push them away from Clinton. She has embraced trade protectionism and massive government spending increases in order to land votes. Trump has done the same. Clinton is a foreign interventionist in a time where voters are tiring of war. Trump promised to become less involved in foreign entanglements (though I'm not sure anybody should believe him here). Trump has literally promised to spend twice as much money on government projects than Clinton.

I've reported on Clinton's policy proposals for LGBT issues and separately for tech issues. Both her memos in these areas call for significant increases in federal laws and regulations, and her tech platform will be a magnet for high-level lobbying and cronyism. These platforms were clearly written by those with the most influence on her campaign and ultimately help feed the attitude that she's just a candidate who will do anything to get her hands on the reins of power. When she competed against Barack Obama in 2008, she focused on her policy differences with him as candidates. Now, eight years later, she's running as his third term. Colin Powell described her in an email as having "unbridled ambition" and as being "greedy" and "not transformational." Frankly we could use more presidents who don't want to use the office to transform the country, but we're in a state now where the status quo is an extremely powerful executive branch that has little accountability. "Not transformational" means the perpetuation of that status quo. Why would a third-party voter support that?

Don't presume to tell us what we believe. Insert a "basket of deplorables" reference here. Granted, this is a push for third-party voters rather than for Trump supporters, but there is still a significant problem that this campaign's attitude toward non-supporters is to attack them. Even those who don't support Trump at all were certainly put off at a presidential candidate openly writing off millions of Americans as bad people.

This behavior is a reminder that there are a good chunk of people on the left who have concluded that those who don't agree with their policy prescriptions are bad, selfish, racist, or evil. There will be no debate over whether policies suppress citizens' rights to free speech, expression, or religion. There will be no debate over whether these policies lead to corruption and cronyism within government. There will be no debate over whether these policies are even effective.

Instead there will be baskets in which we will all be dumped into. Libertarians are used to it by now. Should Clinton lose, we'll be expecting more of the same.

No really, don't pull the blue versus red crap on us. Hilariously, I don't think this is going to be as big of an issue with this race partly because Trump's nomination has disrupted the very idea of what the Republican Party even is. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, Clinton's and Trump's policies—particularly on domestic matters other than immigration—are not that terribly far apart.

Respect that voters determine their own political priorities. I think this is the one area that the Clinton campaign is at least paying attention to. Certainly the bones she's thrown to Bernie Sanders supporters on minimum wage increases and college subsidies indicates she knows which way the wind blows. And that's Clinton in a nutshell: Her career is based on pursuing political power through the path of least resistance.

Yet, this seems in itself likely to push away voters who aren't economically illiterate and have nowhere else to turn. If economic growth matters to you, why would you vote for either Clinton or Trump? Unless you believe Clinton has no intention of wreaking the economic disaster she's promised far left voters, why choose her over Trump?

The "Trump is worse" argument fails to engage here, and the campaign still feels like it's pushing for a get-out-the-vote effort for liberals and progressives, not actually trying to appeal to third-party voters.

It's the Republican Party's fault that Trump landed the nomination for the presidency. It will be the Democratic Party's fault if he actually wins it. Clinton supporters have not given third-party voters much to work with but sneering condescension, stale big-government policies that encourage cronyism and corruption, and an attitude that those who don't support her are refusing to do so because they're selfish, bigoted, or sexist and not for any number of legitimate reasons.

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  1. The Daily Beast article from AM links said 74% of 18-34 y/o don’t trust Clinton and then breathlessly compared that to the 65% of likely voters who don’t trust her.

    So, in their minds, it’s not the fact that a giant chunk of likely voter’s don’t trust her (and rightly so), it’s those goddamn millennials that are going to hand Trump the presidency.

    1. The remaining 35% are the True Believers who will pull the D lever no matter how many kittens she drowns on live TV.

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  2. “Instead there will be baskets in which we will all be dumped into.”

    Robespierre would have approved. At least, up until the very end.

  3. Refuse to actually engage with the reasons the electorate dislikes Clinton and she might lose.

    B-b-but… there is no reason, other than “BECAUSE SEXISM”. I mean, it’s not like she’s the most obviously corrupt politician to ever run for the office or anything… /sarc

    1. “If you don’t vote for Hillary, you’re one of those Nazi frogs!”

  4. People who voted for Ralph Nader are getting the blame now for the Iraq War and ISIS:

    http://www.nj.com/opinion/inde…..mp_is.html

    cuz if Gore had been elected president the (((jews))) never would have flown the planes into the WTF

    1. As if Clinton and Gore didn’t bomb the shit out of Iraq in December 1998 and make it official US policy to oust Saddam. As if 9/11 happened only 8 months into Bush’s term before he was even settled in the office and after the Clintons were petty douchebags during the transition process. As if the leadership in the CIA, FBI, and military substantially changed between the two administrations. As if both Clintons and Gore didn’t publicly state they believed Saddam was rebuilding his WMD program up until after the invasion, because they had the same intelligence Bush had.
      I’ve never seen a convincing argument for why Gore would have been any less disastrous than Bush.

      1. Because ManBearPig and reasons. Duh!

    2. I want to point out I called Al Gore as the savior candidate. The earliest reference i have on Reason is here. But I know I made it last year some time.

      1. here is a novemberpost

    3. the WTF

      World Trade Factory?

    4. Yes, Democrats and Republicans like to claim that you owe them your vote. I especially like it when a Hillary voter tells me that I’m basically voting for Trump if I vote third party, and a Trump voter tells me I’m basically voting for Hillary if I vote third party; that shows how utterly absurd their logic is. I guess if they feel that by not supporting Candidate X I’m actually supporting Candidate Y, then they would have no issues if I voted directly for Candidate Y, right? But no, they just get angry when I tell them that.

      The ‘lesser of two evils’ voters are hopelessly short-sighted and unintelligent, and this duopoly is probably never going to end. No one has ever explained to me how mindlessly voting for the ‘lesser evil’ is more likely to result in our voting system being changed to allow for more than two parties to prosper; it’s all about reducing perceived short-term harm to them, and ignoring the massive amount of harm that results from a corrupt, authoritarian duopoly over decades and centuries.

      1. Battered wife syndrome comes to mind…

        “I know we have been in an abusive relationship for years. Possessive, controlling, full of manipulation, emotional distress, and even some physical violence… But it’s for your own good!”

  5. ‘Trump Bad’ Is Not a Good Enough Argument to Discourage Third-Party Votes, Democrats

    I’d like to introduce you to our stalwart commenter, Joe.

  6. RE: ‘Trump Bad’ Is Not a Good Enough Argument to Discourage Third-Party Votes, Democrats

    Yes it is.
    We should all make a simple decision to vote for either idiot in the republican or democratic party.
    How else is crony capitalism, wars, debt, expanding government, the eroding of our rights and blatant stupidity continue if we don’t for democrats or republicans?
    Who in their right mind would want any of this to change?

  7. Nothing will drum up support better than a divisively hypocritical former Vice President who became a billionaire by advocating that tax payers be forced to subsidize his “green” investments.

    1. that just means that he is smarter than Hillary. Hillary has to sell influence to get rich while Gore made it a law to pay through his bussiness.

  8. particularly on domestic matters other than immigration?are not that terribly far apart.

    Without googling it, isn’t the essential difference that Trump wants to do things for women, but Hillary wants to do things for women too, but with a more social justice feel?

    Didn’t trump get criticized for some child care thingy he proposed because it was “sexist”?

    1. And it was racist of him to court the black vote because the Democrats own them.

      1. the Democrats own them

        There was a time, of course, when that was literally true. They’re just pining for the “good old days.”

    2. Yeah – requiring six months paid maternal leave – sexist against men.

      And against women, too, because it stereotypes them as mothers who stay at home.

      Of course, the progs *have* been quite sexist in their campaigns for “workplace protections” for women – they used to be big fans of “protecting” women out of the labor market by making it more difficult for employers to have woman employees.

      This was justified on eugenic grounds – women in “sweatshop” jobs would have defective children, so if the only job on offer for them was at a “sweatshop” they should be forced to stay home so their delicate uteruses wouldn’t mess up their babies.

      1. It also makes women less employable in their fertile years since employers would inevitably view them as a ticking time bomb waiting to blow up their bottom line with paid leave.

        1. Yeah, but that’s an unintended consequence, so its OK.

    3. I would wager that they aren’t even that far apart on immigration. It’s just that Trump actually says it out loud.

  9. Maybe Hillary should throw on some MC Hammer pants and feature on an episode of “All That”

  10. The malicious truth remains malicious: no one, not a single person, can come up with even one affirmative reason for supporting Herself. It’s easy to find reasons for opposing Trump, but no one can say “this is why Hillary is the better choice” without somehow invoking Trump.

    1. I said I want her to get elected so the stress will kill her sooner, that’s one person/reason.

    2. I’ve posted this before, but these folks have a whole list of affirmative reasons for supporting HRC:

      http://whatthefuckhashillarydone.com/

  11. Mrs. Clinton may also get an assist from one Democrat who has been largely quiet about the race, but can testify to the importance of resisting the third-party temptation: former Vice President Al Gore. Her staff has had conversations with aides to Mr. Gore about bringing him onto the campaign trail to emphasize the importance of supporting Mrs. Clinton if they want to make progress on combating climate change.

    Oh yeah, that’ll work. “Hey there, young Americans. Hillary Clinton and myself want you to know that voting third party is not groovy.”

    1. Sending old people out to tell scary stories to frighten the kids into not voting for Gary Johnson seems like a perfectly cromulent strategy.

      1. The meaning of that word is still up in the air.

        Either it means legitimate, good.

        or

        Appearing to be good and legitimate, but actually slyly subversive or bad.

    2. “Hey there, young Americans. Hillary Clinton and myself want you to know that voting third party is not groovy.”

      “I’m super serial. If you vote for a third party, then Manbearpig will come and get you. Manbearpig doesn’t care if you voted to Johnson or Stein or even Trump. Voting for anyone other than Hillary means you support Manbearpig’s quest to destroy all of humanity. I’m super serial.”

      1. “People are gonna be so stoked on me.”

    3. “How do you do, fellow kids?”

  12. So, just how bad would it need to be before a majority of people would abandon their Team for a third party? I mean if Hitler were running as a Republican and Stalin as the Democrat would the majority of the voters still rationalize their votes?

    “Well, Hitler may have killed 6M Jews, but if that Salin gets in he’s gonna appoint a Communist to the SCOTUS. I mean, I like GJ and all, but he just can’t win.”

    1. Trump supporters would flock to a Hitler. It’s not like he campaigned on exterminating anyone, he campaigned on Making Germany Great Again. Ditto Democrats to Stalin. He wouldn’t put up with obstructionism in the Politburo and had 5-Year Plans.

    2. Offered a choice between Hitler and Stalin, choose the Austrian. He murdered several million FEWER people, his health was worse, and his entourage was far likelier to tear each-other to bits after his death.

      1. His criteria for mass murder eligibility was also a little more narrow.

    3. Hitler and Stalin wouldn’t even come close to winning their primaries here (a severe understatement). Even if someone like Rodrigo Duterte managed to sneak in and become president, his fall from grace would be swift.

      Hitler had to clean out the government to become the monster he became. That obviously won’t happen in America, and nowhere outside of the middle east today. People can own guns here, no coup attempt would succeed.

      Clintrump is a generally awful choice and Gary Johnson is an OK alternative. It’s not a stark choice. The two major parties are almost as old as the nation itself and generations of Americans voted for their candidates. They produced some iconic political figures. They’re part of Americana. It’s impossible for any third party with no meaningful relationship with most of the electorate to win, even now.

      1. They produced some iconic political figures.

        Iconic political figures who, if you actually looked beyond the hype, were corrupt authoritarians.

        It’s impossible for any third party with no meaningful relationship with most of the electorate to win, even now.

        Do a rapists have meaningful relationships with their victims? Because this situation is actually much worse than that. We need to get out of this “relationship” as quickly as possible.

        But it will likely never happen, because most voters are borderline mentally handicapped.

    4. WHAT third party? There used to be a Monarchist Party that had some interesting ideas, but they’ve been defunct for 30 years. Other than that, I’m not aware of any third parties.

  13. Instead there will be baskets in which we will all be dumped into.

    They have to sort people though in order to know which camp to send them to.

    1. You sent everyone to the sortition camp where that sorting takes place and they are distributed from there to the other camps, potentially for further sorting before final disposition.

      1. The Alaska Archipelago.

  14. “Refuse to actually engage with the reasons the electorate dislikes Clinton and she might lose.”

    The problem is that the reasons the electorate dislikes Clinton aren’t addressable.

    She took money from foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State.

    DQ!

    Meanwhile, the last time Hillary’s approval ratings (according to Gallup) were over 50% was in July of 2014!

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/161…..-news.aspx

    More than 50% of the American people have been disgusted with her for more than two years.

    You don’t fix that with campaign ads in the last two months before an election. And everything she’s done in recent weeks has simply confirmed the impression people have held for years that Hillary is a duplicitous, two-faced, liar.

    I understand how she might lose if she can’t make the case for herself, but I also understand that the case for her is indefensible. You’ve gotta somehow make people really hate Trump more–or she’s in even greater danger of losing.

    It’ll be about the debates.

    If Trump can come across as something other than crazy and obnoxious and somehow bring up Hillary’s ethical lapses, as well, he’ll probably win. If Trump comes across as an obnoxious jackass, Hillary will probably win.

    People don’t like Hillary because she comes across as a corrupt, lying, elitist. I don’t know how you combat that with the truth when the the truth is that Hillary is a corrupt, lying, elitist.

    1. “I don’t know how you combat that…”

      It’s her turn. That’s been enough to propel her to the Democrat nomination. If it works as well on educated whites as it has on Democrat party members, she’s got it made.

  15. Fuck it! You have now convinced me to switch my vote from GJ to HRC. Why? Because she will be a 1000 megaton albatross around the proggie-statists’ neck. The first two years might be tough, especially with a dem senate and possibly house, but that will also pull her down faster than any other president and will make all of her annoying proggie salad tossers have to STFU and own her and their failures, and you know there will be many, including possibly her indictment. You have asked me to vote strategically and I will.

    I am being sarcastic of course, but I am going to tell this to the next proggie who asks me who I plan to vote for.

    1. They said the same about Obamacare. True Believers are not fazed by reality.

  16. I’ve heard the argument too many times that whether I want to or not I have to pick a side and not voting for Trump is the same as voting for Hillary. When I try to point out that, as a libertarian, I just want to be left alone, they argue that that’s not an option – Hillary certainly is not going to leave me alone. So they’re justifying their not leaving me alone by the fact that Hillary’s not going to leave me alone – and that makes them better than Hillary how? The idea that somehow my individual preferences have to be made secondary to the common good is the whole damn reason I’m opposed to both you shitweasels. And then I add that I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment and even if you don’t want to leave me alone I can make you leave me alone. Sure, I might wind up dead when I resist getting locked in a cage for the terrible crime of wanting to be left alone rather than doing my sacred duty to serve the interests of society but I’m fine with that. I’d rather be dead than a goddamn socialist like you.

    1. “The idea that somehow my individual preferences have to be made secondary to the common good is the whole damn reason I’m opposed to both you shitweasels.”

      You should point out that Hillary has always put her interests ahead of the common good (Wall St. speeches) and back when she was a young woman, the common good consensus was that she should get married, have kids, and stay home with them.

  17. “It’s the Republican Party’s fault that Trump landed the nomination for the presidency.”

    It’s uneducated white people who are responsible for Trump’s nomination. And they’ll probably stick with him no matter what Clinton says or does.

    1. If only they were properly educated!

      1. “If only they were properly educated!”

        Or weren’t so white.

    2. Damn blue collar whites. Who do they think they are, abandoning the Democratic party for Trump?

      1. “Damn blue collar whites. Who do they think they are, abandoning the Democratic party for Trump?”

        It won’t matter what they do unless they are joined by educated whites.

        1. It won’t matter what they do unless they are joined by educated whites.

          Well, the trouble with the rich, privileged, and educated whites is that there aren’t so many of them around. After all, few people can join the 0.01% by monetizing their public sector jobs.

    3. Well, he is promising to bring their jobs back. You wouldn’t want them to vote against their best interests, would you?

      1. “You wouldn’t want them to vote against their best interests, would you?”

        It won’t matter what they do unless they are joined by educated whites.

        1. Well, we do have the French Revolution as an example of that.

    4. “It’s uneducated white people who are responsible for Trump’s nomination.”

      This has been debunked-plenty of educated//higher income folks voted for Trump in the primaries.

      “And they’ll probably stick with him no matter what Clinton says or does.”

      On this, I agree with you.

      But this story was not about ClinTrump-it was about third parties, did you actually read it?

  18. Instead there will be baskets in which we will all be dumped into. Libertarians are used to it by now.

    Basket of Somalians?

  19. Betty lives with Jimmy, who’s been beating her up for a while. She’d like to leave Jimmy, but Betty’s former boyfriend Billy lives right across the street, and is always watching Jimmy’s place, looking to see if Betty walks out. Betty knows that if she leaves Jimmy, most likely Billy would see her, snatch her off the street and imprison her in his house, whereupon he would beat her.

    Question: since there is almost no chance Jimmy won’t snatch her, should Betty just sit tight where she’s at?

    This in a nutshell is Clinton’s argument.

  20. If in the waning days of October it appears that the 3rd party voters are actually more harmful to Mrs Clinton’s chances than Mr Trump, will there not be many “responsible” libertarian commenters (perhaps even those married to reason editors and writing for Bloomberg, or perhaps even on these very pages) who will make clear that for the sake of Liberty and the future of the Republic, that voters “hold their nose” and vote for Mrs Clinton?

    1. Not me-I have held my nose too many times, thank you. If I’m not voting for Gary Johnson, the only alternative is to stay home. The only thing that could persuade me to vote for Mrs Clinton is if she guarantees my kids admission and full scholarship to any Ivy of their choice and a lifetime supply of single malts and cigars of my choice. Even if she did that, I would still not vote for her (or Trump) for the good of the country and my conscience.

    2. I won’t hold my nose and vote for Clinton the war monger and enemy of individual liberty.

    3. who will make clear that for the sake of Liberty and the future of the Republic, that voters “hold their nose” and vote for Mrs Clinton?

      On the one hand, we have Hillary, a powerful, well connected politician who has proven to be a pathological liar, a war monger, is in bed with banks and Wall St, and promises to raise taxes massively.

      On the other hand, we have Trump, a brash political incompetent newcomer who is lucky if he manages to get a basic budget passed. If he were to get ambitious, his political agenda is lower taxes, skill-based immigration, and telling foreign leaders to contribute more to their own defense.

      Given the choice, which again do you think is pragmatically better from a libertarian point of view?

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  24. Seems more and more clear she is incapable of telling the truth so when she says “trump bad” that must mean trump good, although trump is not good, if she says it, it must be the opposite and if the opposite is true then the truth must be opposite of the opposite………..zit zit zit zit……I’m beginning to short circuit. (I think I saw this on Star Trek with Harry Mudd’s android women.)

  25. Well I strongly dislike them both… But if I were in a swing state, instead of solid Democrat territory, and wasn’t going to vote Libertarian out of spite like I always do, the “But The Other Guy Is Worse!!!” argument would clearly leave me voting for Trump. In addition to all of his horrible policies at least he’d pay lip service/give mild support to a few decent conservative ideals… Clinton, not so much.

    I think that’s what a lot of Clinton people don’t get. Most Americans hate both of them, but for a lot of people that are playing the “lesser of two evils” game Clinton is the worse of the two. Thankfully I can just vote for Gary Johnson’s watered down brand of libertarianism and call it good without even caring since I’m in Washington state.

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