John Oliver On Why Third Party Candidates Aren't Ready for Prime-Time

I figured I’d post it myself, since otherwise @jlw will. He’ll gloat slightly, and people will appreciate it less.


I’ll be the first person to point out that the strategic wisdom in voting third-party has nothing to do with any of Oilver’s arguments, as accurate as they may be. Mathematically speaking, Clinton has this in the bag. Voting for a third party candidate, ESPECIALLY if you’re not in a swing state, will help a third party reach a 5% total of the national vote, which will then qualify them for federal funding in the next election- and that’s huge. Everything that’s wrong with our two major parties can be traced to their successful marginalization of other voices, which allows them to literally write the rules when it comes to the election, either via their deep financial pockets, or by actually controlling every aspect of the Debates, which are the single most important event when it comes to America making a decision.

In other words, if you vote third-party, it’s not for Jill Stein or for Gary Johnson. It’s for a better chance at actually having someone worthwhile run in 4 years who will be listened to, because they’ve got some cash to spend advertising themselves. That’s it. Or, you can just add your vote to the already-determined masses and accomplish nothing. Either way, Hillary’s going to win.


I don’t know.

I have heard people talking a lot, when speaking about third party candidates on the BBS, about “voting for somebody instead of against the lesser of two evils.”. And there have been some passionate defenses of Jill Stein (and, if you only care about the state of third parties in four years, why bother defending a leader who will never be elected?).

Sure, expanding federal funding for third parties is an important reason to vote Green or Libertarian, but I think you’re mistaken if you’re suggesting that’s the only reason people will vote for them.


Voting third party sends the message that major party candidates have to earn people’s votes and can’t coast on inertia. I’m not voting for Clinton because she wouldn’t normally be my candidate of choice.

If someone is an actual third party voter, they won’t care if either of the major parties won, because they prefer their own candidate. I would strongly prefer that Clinton beats Trump this election, so I’m less of a third party voter than I was previously. However, the Clinton camp has done nothing to earn my vote, and there are plenty of other people here to vote for Clinton so I don’t have to.


There are not “third parties”. There can be a third party, a fourth party, a fifth party, etc. But they cannot all be the third. It’s such a basic conceptual fail that it’s hardly any wonder why USians tend to be frustrated by their choices. Even (ab)using the term in everyday speech actively re-enforces the very lack of choice that such parties exist to remedy.

On the one hand, I agree, but only because I disagree.

It’s like first-person, second-person, and third-person. That is: me, you, and them. In any business agreement, as well, the client is one party, the supplier is a second party, and any other services provided are considered to be done by a “third party.”. It’s the same thing: me, you, and them.

So, yes, I agree that it’s an abuse of the language that minimizes the impact that parties other than D and R can have, but I think it’s a different abuse than the one you’re suggesting.

My point is that because “third-party” is basically defined to mean “them,” then it’s only natural that if you refer to a group of people using that term, that group will be trusted less.

Or maybe I’m just overthinking again.


Which one gets to be the Second Party?





But I am the First Party. You are the Second Party.


I have wondered about what you are suggesting, but that didn’t make much sense either. The voter is the first party (me), D&R the second party (you), and anybody else is third (them)? I have never heard anybody discuss things in these terms. In the case of grammatical person, second and third person are distinguished by a different order of perspective. “You” would still be second person regardless of how popular you may be.

It seems that the usage I find is that many assume there are “two parties”, so “anything else” is somehow third. That would sort of make sense - provided that there was only one other option being discussed.

I thought that was Lou Costello…


A bitterness crept across the BBS as the comments became increasingly more accusatory. Who was the first-person in this narrative, and who was the second? Could a third person be far behind? And might they break the fourth wall?


Are you some kind of fifth columnist?


I was thinking “My party”, “Your party” and then the “third parties”

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We could have had Sanders. Just sayin’.

I think that’s the thing that I find most unforgivable right now. We had a chance to elect a good candidate- Someone who managed to be both a Washington insider and a progressive wild card. Someone who actually had integrity and a demonstrable track record of being on the right side of history. A solid liberal who still had the ability to tap into the frustration of the Trump voters.

Instead, this is the field we ended up with. Honestly, it’s like the hundredth time your alcoholic/junkie friend tells you they don’t need help- at some point, you just throw up your hands and say “fuck it. At this point, you’re doing this to yourself. Call me when you hit rock bottom.”


We still can, in another way.


This is how I feel. I am not Libertarian and don’t support the Greens, so it doesn’t make sense for me to vote for those candidates or hope for their legitimacy. I think if you are libertarian, than sure, I think it makes sense to vote libertarian, but it is harder for me to understand why a social conservative Republican or a progressive-leaning Democrat would vote libertarian, as some I’ve met suggest. However, in full disclosure, I supported Hillary even in the primary, so I may be out of touch as I don’t feel the same level of distaste that many people do.

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I’m not ordinarily one to pray, but FSM, Satan, Jibbers and Jebus all have message in their inbox from me. That schadenfreude pie will taste scootier and fruitier than ever!