I'll admit I'm somewhat sympathetic to 3rd party candidates and voters. The problem is most of them are represented by this person whose decision is just stupid. On a related note I also found John Oliver's bit on 3rd party candidates to be off the mark (quite unusual) while Samantha Bee has been spot on (not unusual).
The problem with 3rd party candidates is our elections. We don't have a parlimentary system where 15% of the population voting for Green party would translate to 15% Green party in Congress. It translates to zero. More because most districts don't require a majority to win (i.e. you can win with a plurality...which could technically be as low as 34% but more likely in the mid 40's) the only function a 3rd party candidate really performs is to siphon votes away from the major party candidate that is closest to them in terms of policy.
If all states/districts did run off elections whenever a leading candidate got less than 50% then there would be a stronger argument to vote for 3rd parties. It would help give a more complete picture of what the electorate really wanted.
Almost by definition in a 2 party system, neither party is going to represent you as well as some (real or fanciful) potential 3rd party could. That's just going to happen when the two major parties are trying to figure out how to get 50% of the vote. It's hard to get 50% of people in this country to agree on any single issue much less a whole slate of them. Unfortunately, in our electoral system where we vote for individuals for all offices in winner take all type elections, a 2 party system is the only one that makes sense. There are a very small number of reasons to vote 3rd party:
- Both politicians really are the same (think Simpsons episode where aliens replace the 2 party candidates) and it doesn't matter so much who wins. Note: this was Nader's argument in 2000 which I thought was crap at the time. This is a pretty hard argument to make today, if only for procedural reasons (whether government will function).
- One party has put forth a particularly horrid candidate and that party's members can't vote for their candidate.
- Non-voters only: people who don't vote but get inspired by some particular candidate. This can happen for main party candidates too (see: Obama) and yes, everyone should vote, but some people just don't. Ever. Showing up to vote for a 3rd party is better than not voting at all. If you have ever voted D or R this category does not apply to you.
In fairness to the A Idiot there is also a piece by a Gary Johnson supporter. I disagree with that person on the main issues brought up but that person is not A Idiot. This is a weird election and this falls firmly into the point 2 above. If it were a standard Republican on the ballot instead of the Lilliputian fingered, Brobdingnagian-egoed orange one then that person would be A Idiot too, but it isn't. In this election Republicans and conservatives voting Gary Johnson make sense, Democrats and liberals voting Jill Stein (or Johnson) are A Idiots.