August 21, 2012

Throwing Your Vote Away?

'Why Voting for a Third Party is NOT Throwing Your Vote Away' by Jason Marianna

You hear them every election year, those five little words, strung together to make up the biggest lie in politics: "You're throwing your vote away." The media even has a name for the candidates who get the "throwaway" votes: "spoilers." Why? "Spoilers" ruin the whole two-party myth. They evince that there are more choices than Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Tweedle D and Tweedle R

The two major parties are beginning to realize this, too. No longer can they sit back as the Greens, Libertarians, and independents take a percentage of the votes. The major parties can't rely on people to automatically disregard third parties anymore as "fringe groups," because the "fringe" is getting awfully big. Instead, each major party tries to scare you into believing that a vote for a third party is a vote for the opposition.

Unfortunately, in the effort to score as many votes as possible, the two major parties often forget one thing: principle. How much do they really believe in their principles if they are willing to sacrifice them so freely for a vote? For years, the major parties have followed the same model of getting elected. They run to the left or right during the primaries, and run to the center in the general election campaign. What we are left with are two candidates essentially saying the same thing, but disagreeing in name only, and occasionally on implementation of the same policies. This year is no different.

When you ask people why they vote for a candidate, they give you a few basic answers. For one, they may actually truly believe in the candidate and his policies. This is rare in the two-party system. Another reason many people give is that the candidate is the lesser of two evils. Some say that although they disagree with the candidate on some things, "At least he's not the other guy." With this thinking, they imply there are no other choices, despite the emergence of viable third parties for both the left and the right.

Since when is voting for evil a good thing? Does it matter if you drive a car off a cliff at 55 MPH or 80 MPH? Either way, you're driving off a cliff. How many Americans grumble every year that all politicians are only in it for their own interests? Yet, these same Americans who complain about the hole we're in get out their two-party shovels on Election Day and dig us further into the hole by perpetuating the heart of the problem: The two-party system itself. If you want to change government, change how you vote.

Recently, I spent a week campaigning for my candidate to my circle of friends and acquaintances. I got the same response over and over again: "I would vote for him if I thought he had a chance of winning. However, even though I agree with nearly everything he says, he can't win, so I'd be throwing my vote away." What they don't realize is that if they all vote for him, we would be that much closer to having someone we actually want in office, instead of someone we barely tolerate.

Why do we base our votes on what polls show? You wouldn't let anyone look over your shoulder and tell you what to do when you fill out your ballot, so why let pollsters tell you how to vote? Look at the big picture. If all people actually voted for who they wanted, we would have a four-horse race for the presidency. How hard would it be for any of those candidates to get 25% of the vote if everyone voted for who they wanted, instead of who they were scared or manipulated into voting for?

The two major parties don't care about you. They care about power. They care about winning elections, no matter the cost. They've abandoned the American people and our needs. The major parties have forgotten that the rights Americans enjoy are to be protected. The major parties don't care to hold to the Constitution's limitations. This must change, but won't if we continue to give the major parties our support. If you want for our government to reflect your principles, vote for candidates who reflect those principles, without exception.

The only result of holding to principle is government changing for the better, one ballot at a time. Changing government for the better is not throwing your vote away. Quite the contrary, it is using it properly.


  1. Funny, I just found this blog today, Vote Third Party:

    They seem to be non-partisan & balanced in covering all the (major) third party candidates. Pretty cool.

    I'm telling my liberal/progressive friends who've removed their Obama Goggles to vote Jill Stein. And my more far right friends to vote Virgil Goode. Pimping for Gary Johnson full time, though, of course... :)

    Just worked his booth at Seattle Hempfest... a lot of people are tired of the duopoly & open to voting third party.

  2. Hell yes! I'm voting for Gary Johnson. Our political system can't take this two party garbage anymore.

  3. The only way that the "you're throwing your vote away" logic fails is if the two main-party candidates are LITERALLY identical and equally bad, and not as rhetorical hyperbole. In which case, you don't have a vote to throw away, and it doesn't matter who you vote for anyway.

    If the system is so corrupt, so totally influenced by corporate money that democracy is dead -- and I'm not saying that isn't so, mind you -- then merely voting for someone other than the Ds and Rs isn't going to fix it. There's no minimum number of votes required for the winner to take office. Bill Clinton won only 43% of the vote in 1992, with 19% going to Ross Perot, but he still was legitimately elected president according to the law of the land. If things are really that bad, it's time for revolution. Nothing short of that will suffice.

    As for breaking the two-party lockhold, the only thing that will do that is proportional representation at the level of Congress. A winner-take-all by-district electoral system demands a two-party system as the only viable strategy.