Straight from print: #NeverTrump and #NeverClinton students vote third party
How some AU students plan to vote alternatively to the major candidates
This article originally appeared in The Eagle special edition on Oct. 21.
When AU students go to the ballot boxes on Nov. 8, some of them won’t be voting for the big party nominees Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but for the Green Party’s Jill Stein or the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson.
A Sept. 16 New York Times/CBS News poll found that roughly 20 percent of voters aged 18 to 39 plan to vote for Johnson, and six percent plan to vote for Stein.
One AU student following this trend is School of Public Affairs junior Terry Altherr. Altherr is undecided for this election, but said he is considering voting for Stein after supporting Senator Bernie Sanders throughout the primaries.
“If I vote third party, I'll vote for Stein,” Altherr said. “I think Johnson is interesting but I detest the fact [that] he's completely out of touch with the American proletariat on economic issues.”
SPA seniors Stuart Algood and Gabriel Benitez said they both plan to vote for New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Algood is a Republican and served as president of AU College Republicans during the 2015-16 school year, but is backing Johnson because of his own “never Trump” views. Algood said he originally supported Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rand Paul during the primaries.
“I am in favor of free trade, lower taxes, less spending, balancing the budget, common sense immigration reform and being a more open and welcoming party,” Algood said. “Trump feeds off of people's fears, promotes America cutting itself off from trade, and can barely put together a coherent policy.”
Benitez, a Libertarian, originally supported Paul during the primary elections, but shifted toward Johnson after Paul ended his campaign.
“Johnson is appealing because he’s a third party candidate who has an actual track record to fall back on. Both he and his running mate [William Weld] served two terms as Republican governors of blue/purple states,” Benitez said. “Also, Johnson represents a much more pragmatic, compromising wing of Libertarianism that recognizes the dangers of extremism and dogmatism.”
With such a divide within political parties over whom to vote for comes the pressure to vote a certain way, especially with the trend of pushing third party voters into voting for Clinton or Trump. Benitez said that he does feel the pressure to vote for a major party candidate, but he doesn’t agree with this rhetoric and will continue to vote for Johnson.
“I don’t agree with either assertion because, one, I don’t believe I should perpetuate the tendency to vote against a candidate rather than for a candidate and two, I think it’s rather hypocritical to assert that third party voters are some group of mischievous, destructive people voting out of spite,” Benitez said.
Algood and Altherr agree that they’ve both felt some pressure from AU students to vote for either Clinton or Trump, but say they will continue to support their respective candidates.
“Johnson favors free trade, lower taxes, and less government. He also supports ending the failed ‘war on drugs’ that has lead to the United States having more prisoners per capita than anywhere else in the world,” Algood said. “In short Johnson supports keeping the government out of people's business.”
All three said they see problems with the current election, citing issues that Clinton and Trump both perpetuate. For Altherr as a Sanders supporter, he’s not immediately supporting Clinton because of Clinton’s campaign during the election and interactions with the Democratic National Convention.
“I'm also not drawn to Hillary Clinton because… I think Clinton is too much in cohorts with the establishment,” Altherr said. “I'm still disgusted by how Bernie supporters were treated by her campaign and the DNC.”
Beneitez hopes AU students evaluate their choices during this election and look past just voting for big party candidates.
“Come election day, I hope AU students take a while to really think about their true political identity, rather than simply conforming to groupthink and acquiescing their voice and mind to others,” Benitez said. “And for those that maintain that voting for another Democrat or Republican is going to solve the problems we’re dealing with today, I’d ask them to remember this definition of insanity — ‘Doing something over and over again, and expecting different results.’”