Third party candidates are usually regarded as "spoilers" that ruin the elections of the two-party system. That in itself is part of the problem; the two parties want to scare people that could potentially be lured into voting for someone else by saying "you'll be electing the OTHER guy." Personally, I feel that the third parties would do best by banding together and throwing out their more extremist policies. Sadly, most of the third parties in America are founded as extremist parties or are focused so much on one issue that they cannot draw from a wide enough audience to have any chance of success.

The only parties that I see as stable and large enough to work together would be the Greens and the Libertarians. The Greens are regarded by some as socialists or social democrats, but their main focus is environmental policy, not an entire social democrat platform. The Libertarians have the potential, on their own, to be a "big tent" party, trying to appeal to people who feel that the government does too much overall.

Environmentalism can work with both Libertarians and Greens, as the Libertarians have often pointed out, the federal government is the greatest polluter. A non-democratic government would not have reason to care about their environment, as they would not have to listen to anyone's concerns. Social liberalism also can tie Libertarians and Greens together. Both are significantly further to the left on issues such as marriage rights, reproductive rights, and drug laws. A platform of making polluters pay for their own mistakes (rather than the government), legalizing gay marriage, taxing and regulating marijuana, and ending all farm subsidies would be a good place to start for a third party. None of these opinions would frighten off a large majority of potential voters, and it would allow both the Greens and the Libertarians to work toward their goals.

In this election, I feel Gary Johnson provides an exciting opportunity for the Libertarian party. The past Libertarian candidates have generally been very un-Libertarian on issues such as border control and social issues. But I must admit, a little bit of my hope for humanity every dies every time I see a Ron Paul fanboy claiming "Gary Johnson is a statist" or generally chastising any former Ron Paul supporters for even considering anyone else. Gary Johnson is more of a Libertarian than Ron Paul ever was, or ever will be. Hell, the same goes for Mike Gravel, Russ Feingold, and Bill Richardson. You can't be a Libertarian and want a fence around the border.

I do not agree with Gary Johnson on everything; I'm more comfortable with his social policies than his economic ones, but given my disagreements with Obama on social issues, I have been considering voting for Johnson. In all reality, I do not expect this election to be close. The media want it to be close... they want an "exciting" analysis full of talking heads obsessing over polls in Virginia and Florida. I'm really confident that Obama is going to win. You have an incumbent with a slowly growing economy who is very strong on terrorism and foreign policy, and an opponent from New England that seems out of touch and elitist. It seems like 2004, except the Republicans have John Kerry.

Don't be afraid to vote your conscience. Do not obsess over the fact that your favored candidate will lose if you decide to vote for Gary Johnson or any other third party. That is the only way that America can ever have a viable third party.. if we stop the false dichotomy between Red and Blue.

And as for the Greens, look into Libertarians as well. If your main concern is the environment, rather than fiscal policy, you do not need to stick with a party because of its name or key issue. Someday, I hope that the Greens and Libertarians can work together or even merge. I know that the ideological purity tests of the current LP and the detailed social democrat platform of the current Green party make this unlikely, but I'm optimistic that it could happen, and if it did, it would be more than just a 1% spolier "stealing" New Hampshire and Florida from Al Gore.

In this election, I do not see Gary Johnson as a huge spoiler. He will likely give Obama even larger victories in New Mexico and Colorado and Nevada, and possibly give him Montana, as McCain carried Montana by just 2.5% with an unofficial Ron Paul candidacy taking 2.2%. If Johnson got a lot of traction, Montana could possibly go for Obama. People have also been discussing Arizona as potentially changing sides this year. I myself suggested that earlier, but I would say that Montana is more likely than Arizona to vote Democratic in this election.

And in closing... look into all the candidates. "Throw your vote away" if you want to.

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