There is no such thing as a wasted vote
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 23:11
The election is five days away and I’m still not sure who I’m voting for. The only thing I am sure about is that I’m not happy with either of the two major party choices. When a friend asked who I was voting for, I responded that I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t think it would be Romney or Obama. He responded that it was pointless that I was even voting.
Am I wasting my vote by not casting it for a politician who has any realistic chance of winning? I don’t think so. Casting a vote for a politician you don’t believe in is extremely counterproductive, even if it’s more a statement about his or her opponent. No matter what, someone you don’t support will be in office. The “lesser of two evils” approach does make some sense in the short term. You can vote the greater evil down and keep him or her out of office, but the lesser evil will still be there.
So why not choose a third party and vote them both down? The answer is simple: because one of the “evils” will almost always end up in office anyway. Third party candidates have almost no chance in major elections right now. But that could be changed. The widespread dissatisfaction with Congress and increased access to information could make third party candidates real contenders, but it won’t happen overnight. They have to build up their bases just like any other politician, and that will happen through support over time. While a major party vote could keep someone unappealing out of office for a term, it will hardly change what’s going on in politics as a whole. They and their party will still be around next election with all the same ideas, and next time they might win. Voting third party may not lead to an election victory, but it keeps the chance alive that there could be better choices in the future.
Furthermore, feeling compelled to vote for one of two people is giving in to the advertisement that both major parties want you to believe- that they’re the only option. It has given them an unbelievable amount of leeway in their work. After almost 250 years, America generally accepts that many of its politicians will take loads of special interest money, raise their own salaries, consider themselves above the law, vote only on party lines, go back on campaign promises, debate like small children, manipulate numbers and words and often still be considered re-electable. Both parties are equally guilty of these things, and they get away with it because they’re no better than each other.
Congress’s 75 percent disapproval rating confirms that people know and understand the flaws in our political system. But the idea of electing someone else never even enters the debate. There’s a stigma that if you’re serious about politics, you’ll vote for a “serious” candidate. Major party candidates have serious financial backing, serious media endorsements and serious image, but the two major party candidates in this election do not seem to be serious about their ideals or their campaign promises.
Those are two pretty big shortcomings, but it won’t stop one of them from becoming president. Many people will pick the “lesser of two evils.” That makes sense if the issues that divide these candidates are the ones that are important to the voter, but that’s not always the case. For all the talk about an ideological divide, both parties agree on some huge issues. The animosity and derision between the two parties is hyped as a campaign ploy. It’s hard to sell a candidate to any electorate, but it’s much easier to make their opponent look like a villain. You don’t have to like a candidate to vote for them, you just have to fear the alternative. The likelihood of the United States becoming a backwards conservative theocracy or the Socialist States of America within the next four years is low, but the race is still being fought as though the fate of the country were at stake.
There are definitely differences between the two major party candidates, but no matter who gets elected, there are a lot of things that won’t change. Both support the deregulation of campaign finance laws, the continuation of the war on drugs, increased oil drilling in the US, the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the continued use of unofficial military force abroad and many other things that have become accepted in politics. If any of these are important issues to you, I strongly encourage you to consider voting for a third party.