Here we go again. Yet another “third party” candidate has “spoiled” “major party” candidates’ victory party plans by “stealing” votes that rightfully belong to … well, someone else.
Libertarian Chase Oliver garnered a little more than 2% of the vote in Georgia’s U.S. Senate race. His efforts prevented either incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock or Republican challenger Herschel Walker from winning the election with a majority. Georgia’s election laws require such a majority. Now the election goes to a Warnock-Walker runoff.
That’s how democracy works, at least in Georgia. And every time a “major party” candidate loses an election or is forced into a runoff by a Libertarian, Green, or other third party or independent candidate, a festival of tears and butt-hurt ensues.
This spoiler argument is not only a “problem” for those who believe that votes inherently “belong” to one of the two “major” parties. Their candidates perpetuate the lie that those pesky third-party and independent contenders are “stealing” votes from one or the other.
Votes don’t belong to parties or candidates. They belong to voters.
Georgia’s voters didn’t (and don’t) owe their votes to Raphael Warnock or Herschel Walker. It’s a candidate’s job to EARN those votes, and one in 50 decided, for whatever reason, that they hadn’t done so and Chase Oliver had.
The spoiler argument doesn’t work when the system is rotten
To the extent that “spoiling” is a “problem,” there’s an easy solution — a solution that Mr. Oliver himself supports. That solution is Ranked Choice Voting.
If Georgia used RCV, voters would have been able to choose more than one candidate: A first choice, a second choice, and so on.
If no candidate had received a majority of first-choice votes, the second-choice votes of the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes would have been automatically added to the other contenders’ totals, until someone received a majority — an “instant runoff” instead of yet another (expensive to both campaigns and taxpayers) campaign cycle.
Why do Republicans and Democrats hate Ranked Choice Voting?
Because even if it didn’t cost them many elections, they’d be embarrassed by the public revelation. Far more than 2% of voters prefer alternatives to fear-based voting for “lesser evil” major party players.
Our “two-party system” is built on the lie that two parties can and do represent all of us. And the “major party” liars, as liars will do, attempt to shift blame to the “spoilers” who expose them.
As Oliver tells Reason Magazine, “you can’t spoil what’s already rotten.”
Thomas L. Knapp is the director and senior news analyst for the Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. Knapp is a journalism veteran of over 35 years and a full-time libertarian writer, editor and publisher since 2000.