Letter to the Editor: Don’t vote out of fear and unreason


From left: Gary Johnson, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein and Donald Trump. (TNS photographs)

By Joshua Hellmann

I am going to begin by stating a truth that should be well understood: there is nothing forcing anyone to vote Democrat or Republican.

No law or violent action is forcing people to support parties and candidates they don’t want to support. We still have some freedom of speech and association, if the people would exercise it. And that is the crux of the issue; if the people would merely exercise their rights, instead of meekly submitting to fear and unreason, a third party candidate could easily win the presidency.

Let’s go over some history. The current Republican Party was founded in 1854 as a response to the Whig Party’s inability to take action against slavery. In 1856 the party began picking up Congressional seats and its presidential nominee received 33 percent of the vote. Yes, that’s right, a third party went from being founded to being a major party in two years. And in 1860, the Republican Party won the presidency. Their candidate would be known throughout history as the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln.


In 1912, as a result of a split in the Republican Party, a new third party, the Progressive Party, was formed. Its presidential candidate was no less than Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who had been president as a Republican just a few years earlier. And in the same year it was founded, the Progressive Party of 1912 picked up about a dozen seats in Congress, and Roosevelt received 27 percent of the vote and second place, outpolling the Republican Party’s William Howard Taft. One of the Progressive Party’s ideas in its platform was women’s suffrage, the right of women to vote and only eight years after its electoral success, the 19th Amendment was made the law of the land.

Now imagine if you will, these two parties forming and running candidates in this era of harsh ballot access laws, spoiler theories, lesser/greater evils, biased national debate commissions and biased national news networks. They’d end up like the Libertarian and Green Parties if they were lucky, struggling to stay alive as a party and movement in the face of vote shaming and electoral suppression.

My fellow citizens, it is time we rediscovered the electoral courage that our nation once had, before it is too late. Vote Green, vote Libertarian, heck, if still want to vote for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton after having done a significant amount of research and soul-searching, then do that too. Just don’t vote out of fear and unreason. We can and have done better than that.

Joshua Hellmann, a former SIU student from Murphysboro, is an elected Green Party Precinct Committeeman.

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