Most everyone has heard the argument before. “If you are going to vote for a third party candidate, you’re just throwing your vote away!” I’ve heard it over and over again, usually by partisans who are worried that their candidate will lose and are trying to win you over to ‘their side’. But who is really wasting their votes?
What they fail to realize is that no vote for a candidate of your choice is ever “wasted”, even if it doesn’t end up electing a candidate. For example, if you live in Oklahoma where Bush is ahead in the polls 65% – 27% and you are thinking of voting for Kerry. Does that mean you are “throwing your vote away” if you vote for him? Of course not. But time and time again people who are not happy with either current candidate or the way the two big parties have been treating them and putting candidates up for election are told not to vote their conscience and pull the lever against the lesser of two evils.
A recent quote by a member of the Green Party in New Mexico on NPR the other day brought the subject back home to me. When asked if he was worried that a vote for Nader might end up with a Bush win and shouldn’t he get behind Kerry, he responded (paraphrased) “If Kerry wants me to vote for and other Greens, Libertarians and undecided voters to vote for him, he should court our votes and convince us why, not just that he’s not Bush.” True words, but sadly missed by many who are more concerned about today’s political battle instead of the direction of the country.
You’re going to see a lot of essays here about why you should vote Bush out of office or why you should avoid Kerry. While they have their place and you can gather information from them on the candidates in question, I suggest that you vote for the candidate available to you that holds YOUR views.
The main reason, though, for voting for the candidate that expresses your views is that your vote is the only real way that you can tell the parties and candidates what is important to you. If they can simply trot out two centrist-sounding candidates and play on fear and hatred to get you to vote for their candidate over the other, there is no reason for this method of political discourse to ever change. I know, when in American Politics would the two big parties try that sort of thing, right?
By sending your message though your vote, the next election the political powers are going to listen. They are not going to listen to letters written, phone calls made or even editorials and essays in newspapers and on blogs. They don’t care about that, it’s not what feeds the beast. They need your vote. And by giving it up so freely you are just perpetuating the monster that is rolling over true reform and solution in this country.
For example, for years we are told that the libertarian party is not a viable party that will ever be able to run a presidential candidate. They have candidates in local offices all over the country, they have candidates turned members of a major party to get elected in office and they are consistently on the ballots in all 50 states and have been for years. But, when election time comes around, many of the true libertarians and those that don’t really like the way the major parties are running their campaigns will turn to vote against someone and give their vote to a party that they don’t really feel comfortable with but are more worried about “the other guy” winning.
Then, when the election is over and the dust settles, they are dismayed to find that only small percentage of people voted for the libertarian candidate. And the pundits then spend the next few years talking about how the party is of no consequence and ignore what they say. And their ideals and positions are just swept under rug as the next round of elections begin, the same cycle repeating itself over and over again.
And there is no one to blame but YOU, the one who threw your vote away by voting for the lesser of two evils instead of giving it to the person who deserved it, the one who truly represents you and earned it.
So don’t throw your vote away this year, vote for the candidate you want to vote for. Do not just follow the rest of the crowd in a lemming type of manner right off of the cliff.