Friday, September 28, 2012
The "wasted" vote
I have told you before that I am voting for Gary Johnson for president. I don't care if *you* do. OK, I would love it if you did, but I won't think any less of you if you don't -- as long as you vote for whomever you really like the best.
And that's the point of this post. No vote is wasted. (Or else, a whole lot of them are).
Think about it. On a purely mathematical/logical level that views a "wasted" vote as defining "a futile act that makes no difference," if you vote for anyone who loses an election, your vote was "wasted." If you hadn't voted, the result would be the same. Indeed, unless the election were decided by one vote, your vote would be "wasted" even if you voted for the winner. The same thing would have happened if you hadn't voted at all.
Really? Well yeah, if you want to get all mathematical about it.
But fuck that. Let's get back to basic democracy. Vote for the guy (or gal) you want to be president.
The funny part about voting for a third-party candidate is that sometimes *both* sides will tell you how you are a traitor to their cause and just helping the *other* guy win. If you go to any libertarian site, the comments from GOPers are overwhelming in declaring that "a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Obama." Among my mostly lefty friends, I am told that a vote for Johnson "is a vote for Romney."
Maybe, just maybe, a vote for Gary Johnson is just.... a vote for Gary Johnson and what he stands for.
See, if forced to choose between Obama and Romney, I would take Obama every time, but there is no "forcing" at all. I have spent most of my adult life voting for the lesser of two evils, and I am tired of it. My vote hasn't made a mathematical difference in *any* of those elections. But it sure did make me feel lousy sometimes (Michael Dukakis? Jebus....) And this time around, when the major-party candidate I like "better" is a guy who swore to me last election that he he was going to let states decide one of the most basic issues of compassionate medicine/freedom that I can think of -- medicinal marijuana -- and then turned around and raided more med-pot facilities than George W. Bush in states that had decided that yeah, medicinal pot is OK with them, I don't feel a lot of compelling loyalty-based reasons to vote for that guy, particularly when the person on the Libertarian Party ticket is, quite literally, my favorite politician of my lifetime -- Gary Johnson, a guy who is truly pro-choice about just about everything. (Go here if you want to read Conor Friedersdorf's eloquent statement of reasons in The Atlantic regarding why he is voting for Johnson, if at all).
So how about this? Do what *you* really want to do. Your vote matters a lot, except that, mathematically speaking, it doesn't matter at all. So vote for the candidate you like the best, and to hell with all that "wasted vote" nonsense.
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I agree-- not that that will surprise you-- and would add that I think that debate and discussion among ordinary citizens is most of democracy. The voting and its results are the smaller part. Real political victories consist of the shifting of the subjects of public debate, and a good showing by a third party does that. In this case, a strong showing by Johnson will, I think, bring both parties' extremisms (fiscal liberalism, social conservatism) back toward the center.ReplyDelete