Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have incredibly high negatives. Most people don’t agree with, like or trust either. In a political system responsive to the public, an alternative with broad support would emerge if they become the nominees, as seems increasingly likely.
Unfortunately, in our system — which enshrines the dominance of the two establishment parties — the negatives of each end up perversely being the basis of support for the other. Voters end up being trapped by the very unpopularity of the candidates. The main things holding the system together are fear and hate — even as the candidates claim to be bringing people together.
That is, most people supporting Clinton are not doing so because they view her as upstanding, wise or just. They support her because they fear and despise Trump and his misogyny, racism and temperament.
And the same largely goes for Trump. He supporters back him because they detest the establishment of the Republican Party as well as Clinton, who shares so much with that very Republican establishment even as she postures as a newly born progressive.
So, voters could end up just cancelling each other out — one voting for Clinton and one voting for Trump, with neither being happy. But if voters who know and trust each other — relatives, coworkers, neighbors, debating partners — team up and vote for their preferred candidates (be they Green, Libertarian, Socialist, Independent, etc.), then they can begin to break out of the prison of the two party system. And if they do this in pairs (forming a VotePact), they can do it without the risk of helping the candidate they want the least.
Politicians make such alliances all the time — witness the recent alliance between Ted Cruz and John Kasich against Trump. But voters need to do this with a level of integrity and honest dialogue that’s alien to the political class. It’s well past time that the public vote strategically instead of continuing to be the perpetual play thing of the duopoly.
Certainly there are schisms in each establishment party. Bernie Sanders has made some of those evident on the Democratic Party side, especially in his forthright critique of the healthcare system, Wall Street domination and increasing economic inequality.
And Trump has made some indications on foreign policy which break from perpetual war orthodoxy and embraces some populist rhetoric. How genuine that is however, is questionable. It’s possible that it’s no more sincere than Clinton’s new-found stated opposition to undemocratic corporate-backed deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.