The outcome of the 2016 presidential election led to a shocking Wednesday morning for some, or in my case, an incredibly late Tuesday night.
One declaration I heard almost on repeat was the accusation that it was somehow the faults of the people who voted third party that Hillary Clinton lost, which, quite simply, is absurd. The people who voted third party should not be “ashamed”, are not “idiots”, and should not be hated, because their vote was just as legitimate as anyone else’s. Just because Jill Stein and Gary Johnson did not have a reasonable chance of winning does not mean that their vote was somehow “wrong” or “a waste”, because it left a very clear message that many people are disappointed with both candidates and that refusing to pick between the lesser of two issues is a choice, not a necessity.
Theoretically, if every single third party voters, especially voters in key states, voted for Hillary, could the election results have changed? Probably. Realistically, however, could the results have been changed? According to The Economist, approximately 45% of Stein voters and 50% of Johnson voters would “never consider either” candidate as worthy of their vote. Of the remaining 50% of Johnson voters, approximately 2 in 5 of them were willing to vote for Trump instead of Hillary. 1 in 5 of the remaining Stein voters came to the same conclusion. As for undecided voters, the split between Hillary and Trump was pretty much even. The idea that third party voters could have flipped the election is simply false, because so many of them were would rather not vote for president altogether, and of those remaining, there was not enough support for Hillary to make any real difference.
In addition, to insinuate that someone voting third party was somehow “wrong” is intolerant in itself (which is pretty ironic considering many Hillary supporters are advocates of tolerance). That’s not how democracy works – just because people disagree with each other doesn’t make their opinion a waste or of any less value, just different.
But this is America, and as a nation we love to point fingers at each other, so a major question is: who should I blame instead if I am unhappy with the election results? Blame the millions who didn’t come out to vote. Blame the people who sat at home, comfortable with a Hillary victory. Blame the people who support Hillary but did not support her in the polls, but don’t blame people for exercising their First Amendment right to free speech by declaring they voted “wrong” for having a different viewpoint than one’s own.