Wasting Your Vote?

Only if you don’t like whomever you vote for.

With two of the worst candidates ever to run at the same time at the top of the ballot many are considering voting for a 3rd party candidate.  I am.  I’m voting for Evan McMullin.  But some are voting for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or writing in whoever they would have preferred to win the primary (never mind the fact that in most states that kind of write-in vote may actually be wasted in a way, but not entirely).

For the first time since Ross Perot ran in 1992 many are considering someone else besides who the Democrats and Republican parties put up.  Can you blame them?

Fear is used as a way to get you to vote for someone you just don’t like.  Of course, you can’t vote for the other gal, but you can’t vote for “your” guy either.  But “the Supreme Court”, or “immigration” or whatever is tossed out as why you must vote for the other person.  If you don’t then, shudder, horrible things will happen.  Other horrible things may happen, but they’re acceptable horrible things compared to what the Horrible Other will do.

You are told if you vote for a 3rd party candidate you are casting a vote for the Other.  In 1992 that was true, with 3 candidates and 2 main ones who weren’t universally disliked.  In 2000 that was again true when Ralph Nader took 5% of the vote from Al Gore.  Again, 3 candidates and the 2 main ones weren’t universally disliked.  In both of those instances a 3rd party vote could have been considered a vote for the Other.

This year is different.  There is no need to catalog the case against Hillary Clinton.  Nor for Donald Trump.  Their issues are well known.  As of this date Hillary’s unfavorable is 52.5% (RCP average) and Donald’s is  58.0% (with a more massive spread).

I see no Hillary bumper sticker or yard signs.  Not even Democrats can muster any enthusiasm to vote for her, but she’s not Donald Trump and that’s all she can run on.  Donald has a diehard base that would vote for him if he shot someone in the street, but most of the country, including his own party, does not like him.  Of those that don’t like him but are voting for him it’s because he’s not Hillary.  At best the reasons to vote for one or the other is simply that that they’re not the Other.

Voting for a 3rd party is claimed to be a vote for the Other at worst and a wasted vote at best.

This year it is not.  With both major party candidates disliked by most of their own party it is different.  It is a way to not waste your vote for a candidate you cannot support - either because of their personality or their policies (or both).

A vote for a 3rd party is:

  • A protest vote - you telling your party you are not buying what they’re selling anymore.  You used to like their product, then you tolerated their product and this year they’re peddling refuse and insist you remain loyal and buy the refuse
  • An effort to start something new - when the parties no longer represent their voters it’s time to start working on a replacement.  2016 may not be the year for a third-party win, but 2020 might be.  It has to start somewhere.  It took the Whigs about a decade to be replaced by Republicans; with the speed of modern life this could be cut shorter.  With the implosion of the Republicans due to the nomination of Mr. Trump, it’s likely that a rival party will spring up.  The Democrat coalition will continue to hold as long as they keep promising bread and circuses and the confiscation of wealth from the wealth producers.
  • Actual support for the 3rd party candidate - the 3rd party candidate has the positive things you want in a candidate.  You’re not voting against someone you are voting for someone.  It’s a person you’re not embarrassed to tell people you voted for and supported.
  • A hedge against the “mandate” - when presidents win, even with a slim margin, they like to claim they have a mandate from the American people to implement their policies.  Voting 3rd party in sufficient numbers (and that’s the key) the claim of a mandate is not possible.  If 20-30% of the electorate votes 3rd party, that means the winner will have more than 60% of the electorate who voted against them.  They can only enact policy changes by building coalitions with the other parties.

For me, it’s all of the above.  My primary preference hasn’t ever won.  I’ve moved from Republican to Libertarian.  Historically, I’ve voted Republican because they were the closest to libertarianism at the time.

But this year they’ve nominated someone whose policies, when decipherable, aren’t really any different from the Democrat’s nominee.  And that doesn’t even consider who the candidates are as people who have the temperament to be the leader of the United States and the free world.

Voting 3rd party is not a wasted vote.  It is an expression of political preference. It is one of the ways we participate in our process and signal to the winners, whoever they are, that there are those who are opposed to their policies - those that do not support their policies and are fighting against them.  It is a signal to the parties that they are no longer aligned with the interests of their party members.

In past years I’ve wasted my vote by voting against someone rather than for someone.  From now on, I’m only voting for someone.  This year, that someone is Evan McMullin.  Don’t waste your vote.

Fennoman is a guest writer for Scragged.com.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Fennoman or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

.... In 2000 ... Ralph Nader took 5% of the vote from Al Gore ....

What utter rubbish.

None of the vote belonged to Gore, save that cast for him.

And only the most naive, gullible and, dare I say it, stupid in America believe the "Democrats" effective ownership, operation and control of America's elections' machinery and of every voter roll, limits the votes that RICO-racketeering and systemically-criminal conglomeration steals, every cycle, to only five per cent!

Brian Richard Allen

October 13, 2016 10:58 PM

Pardon? Evan Mc--Who?

October 14, 2016 7:43 AM

I'm with him! Evan, that is. Trump is worse than Clinton. THank god Evan ran and gave us someone on the ballot we could actually vote for. -BenC

October 15, 2016 9:00 AM

I'm grateful he has the courage to stand up and run against DT/HRC. I'm impressed with his views, integrity, determination and honor. He speaks respectfully - and non-divisively. He is a candidate worthy of my vote. EvanMcMullin.com/principles -- are his talking points to help America take greater care in selecting our leaders!

October 17, 2016 4:18 PM
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