After the Cornell University Republicans’ endorsement of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the New York Federation of College Republicans promptly revoked its chapter recognition.
This decision against the organization is an overblown affront to the Cornell Republicans’ choice to support Johnson, something the group was well within its power to do. Just because a college organization is Republican–affiliated does not automatically mean they are under any obligation to support the Republican presidential candidate.
The freedom to support a third-party candidate is one that any organization and individual has the right to exercise without outright retaliation.
Given the nature of the current two-party electoral system, however, it is important to acknowledge the argument that directing more votes toward third parties can simply draw votes away from either of the two other party nominees, helping one or the other win without advancing the prospects of the third-party candidate.
This spoilers argument has been reflected in election history. During the 2000 election cycle, many said the popularity of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader took votes away from Democratic candidate Al Gore, ultimately handing George W. Bush the presidency.
The concept itself has been negatively spun in the media to scare citizens into voting either blue or red this November. This fear-mongering tactic has been created out of a heightened fear of a Trump presidency, with Democrats arguing that the only way to stop a Trump victory is to vote for Clinton.
However, a vote for a third party is not automatically a vote for Trump, given that many of Johnson’s supporters are Republicans who feel disenchanted with the Republican presidential candidate. Given Trump’s unfavorable ratings, Johnson’s rising popularity should be seen a positive sign in the fight to keep Trump from the Oval Office.
Though arguments against voting for third parties have persisted throughout many recent elections, voters — and organizations representing voters — should not be cut off from expressing viewpoints either for or against these arguments. A democratic society encourages the free flow of ideas and the freedom to align oneself with any political party or ideology. This freedom should not suddenly be put on pause during a presidential election cycle, but should be encouraged so voters can feel free to support their chosen candidate without fear of retaliation or criticism.