Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why I Will "Waste" My Vote

With an election right around the corner and a mention by Saur in a blog post, and others in the past, about a third party vote being a "wasted vote", I would like to ad my two cents worth about why I will be wasting my vote this year.

I don't believe a third party vote is a wasted vote and would argue that a wasted vote is a vote for someone you know does not represent your own beliefs and principles. A wasted vote is a vote for someone you know will not lead the country in a way it should go. A wasted vote is a vote for the "lesser of two evils." Or, in the case of John McCain and Barack Obama, what we have is a choice between the "evil of two lessers." I believe our current election process has come down to a popularity contest instead of being based on preference.

Consider three examples that show a third party vote isn't wasted. In 2000, George Bush carried Florida and thus the election by 537 votes. Ralph Nadar received 97,421 in Florida. In fact, all seven of the other third party candidates received more than 537 votes in Florida. In 1992, Ross Perot won 18.9% of the popular vote making him eligible for federal funding for 1996. (15% of the vote is required before government funding is given.) Ross Perot's third party run in 1992 though successful, was still only the second best showing second to Theodore Roosevelt's "Bull Moose Party" run in 1912 that garnered him 27.4% of the vote.

These campaigns of third party candidates are not acts of spoilers or vanity. These are people who believe it is a constitution that is the governing document of our Republic. These are not people who want to address the current economic crisis by giving crooks on Wall Street $700 billion dollars and themselves $110 billion stuffed in a pork barrel. These are not people who are continually getting us into foreign policy debacles such as Vietnam and Iraq wars. These are not people who worry about keeping millions of donor's dollars in reserve for their inaugural balls or buying $150,000 wardrobes at Saks 5th Avenue. These are not people who support giving illegal aliens amnesty and a path to citizenship. These are not people who expressed support for sending combat forces for "peacekeeping purposes" against foreign countries even if those countries do not pose a threat to the United States. These are not people who support NAFTA or the United Nations. These are not people who believe in shrinking the size of the government. These are people who are campaigning to bring systemic changes in the "politics as usual" America even though we the people have a history of voting for "change" that never seems to happen when voting Republicrat.

I argue that voting for a candidate other than the best representative of our views has the opposite effect. If a candidate already knows that he has our vote, he will then concentrate on moving their platform away from our desires in order to court the votes of people far from my own. I really fault John McCain's campaign this time around for doing exactly this. Instead of being a maverick as he has in the past, he has been busy codifying the extreme right.

If the lesser of two evils does win, it won't be my fault because I didn't vote for them. In fact, it will be the fault of anyone voting based on popularity or FEAR (especially in this election and the previous one) rather than policies, issues and ideals.

Even if my vote has little chance of affecting the outcome of the election, in this case Obama in a landslide according to recent polls, it does and can influence policy and future elections. The groundwork laid by Nadar in the 2000 election are still being felt even in this election as both candidates spent large amounts of time and money courting the independent middle during the primaries. Unfortunately they haven't learned to court the middle after the primaries are over, but they will learn eventually. Rome wasn't built in a day.

If just 15% of voters vote for a third party, that candidate won't win, but that party will receive federal funding and debate time in the next election cycle. This would truly be a change to our broken political system.

So I have made up my mind. This year I will be "wasting my vote" for president by voting for the Baldwin/Castle ticket. I encourage you to vote for the person that best represents your principles. By voting only in this manner will we ever be voting for true change.


sage said...

I have several times voted for a 3rd party--I left the Republicans with the John Anderson depature in 1980 and once even voted socialist, not because I agreed with the candidate, but because I couldn't vote for the major two candidates and wanted them both to stay awake at night worrying that there might be a Commie hiding under their bed.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Beautifully said, and I already understood this point of view. I do have friends (such as yourself) and family doing that this year.

However, I do disagree and still feel it's a throwaway vote. I wish that wasn't the case.

If it were a minor difference (such as McCain vs. Liebermann for instance) then I would lodge a vote with Baldwin/Castle. But Obama is so very dangerous, that I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone but McCain, even though I'm holding my nose with one hand while I'm voting with the other.

Ed Abbey said...

Sage - I'm too young. The only John Anderson I know was a country music singer.

Saur - I think our difference stems from our views of Obama. I don't feel Obama is more dangerous as a president than McCain and you obviously do. Since Obama and McCain are so close to me in number of things I agree with and disagree with and I'm not worried about Obama more so than McCain, a third party vote seems very attractive to me. McCain could step up to the plate and prove how different he is from Bush with specifics and cause me to switch at the last moment but I'm not holding my breath.

R. Sherman said...

Nicely put. I'm afraid that unless and until alternatives appear to be viable, they will not be able to influence policy. Viability requires votes, large numbers of votes. The two major parties rely on people to not want to "waste" votes in order to maintain their death grip on the process.


The Real Mother Hen said...

Wow one angry Ed!

It's funny that during this election, I've to keep reminding myself that I'm just a foreigner. You see, if I were to have any love for this country... any love at all... I would probably get very upset about your decision, because too much is at stake here. Joe the Plumber is about to change his name to Joe Wong and pay China for the rest of his life - he doesn't know it yet.

I've always wondered why there isn't any revolution in America (in modern history) despite knowing this country has headed to the rabbit hole. Of course, little do I know that Americans are being subjected to a revolution which they can't and don't have the freedom to react.

It's sad. But I wish you good luck.

Ed Abbey said...

R. Sherman - All it takes is the right person and the right catalyst. In my lifetime, Ross Perot proved to be the right person and he gathered more than the necessary 15% of the vote. Unfortunately, he didn't or wasn't able to capitalize it. It can happen again.

Mother Hen - You are right, there is a lot at stake. But from my perspective, neither candidates prevents Joe the Plumber having to pay China. Only Baldwin is specific to that effect. I think electing a third party candidate to president would be a revolution.

geri said...

My husband voted for Nader. The only Baldwin I know are the actors/brothers :)

Beau said...

A principled vote indeed. If only more Americans considered the issues thoroughly enough to make such a choice. Thanks for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I voted early for Baldwin and I used to vote straight Republican since 1992. Back in '92, I was graduating high school and able to vote for my first time, so I was leaning heavily for Ross Perot, until my parents talked me out of it. I've regretted that decision ever since. I didn't like Bush 41 or Clinton, was wary of Dole, but voted for him anyway, and even though I live in Texas and I knew Bush was sort of a figurehead for governor, in that his powers are very limited, I still voted for him twice. I wanted Huckabee to win the nomination this year, but we've got McCain running against Obama, so thanks, but no thanks to either Senator.

I'm a person who feels we need a strict interpretation of the Constitution, if it's not stated as a federal power, then it's a State power. I heard about the Constitution Party through someone in my church, went to the website, did some Googling, and found that their ideas mirror my own. I don't expect any 3rd party to win, but I want the two "main" parties to realize that some of us are not happy with the direction we're going as a country.

Ed Abbey said...

Thanks for your comments Anonymous. Although we've been on slightly different sides of the coin during our voting history which both began in '92, we end up the same this year. I voted for Huckabee to win the nomination and will end up voting for Baldwin. I'm hoping since all the networks, including Fox, are saying Obama is going to win, more people will choose Baldwin so that his party ends up with federal funding the next time around.