Monday, October 10, 2016

The Case for Voting Third-Party, and Why It’s Not Throwing Your Vote Away

It seems to be a popular idea right now that a vote for a third party, like Evan McMullin or Gary Johnson, is either throwing your vote away, or a vote for Hillary. I’d like to present the case for why a vote for a third party isn’t throwing your vote away, and in fact, is actually a wise choice.
This election is about more than who will be the next POTUS. I think we can all agree that no one wants either candidate to win. There are some who optimistically point out that a third party candidate just might mean blocking Clinton or Trump from reaching the needed 270 electoral votes, sending the race to the House and Senate to decide for us. (I have nothing against this happening. In fact, I like it and not-so-secretly hope it happens, just for the historic nature of the event. I honestly don’t know who the House would pick in that event, so I’m cautiously optimistic.)
The reason I encourage everyone to “vote their conscience” is because the president is only one person, one job. If you vote for Trump, you send the message to the House and Senate that you support his platform. If you do support him, that’s great. Maybe you’ll win. But if you vote for Trump, and you don’t actually support his platform, you still have sent a message to the rest of the lawmakers that you support that platform. Is that a message you really want to send?
Or would you prefer to send a message to those other parties that actually represents your beliefs? Your one vote may not be all that significant in the big picture. But in that smaller picture, the one that breaks down demographics and geography, and shows what people in your district or demographic believe, you have the chance to send a loud message.
Over the weekend, as Trump was flailing about in the wake of his own misogyny, Paul Ryan held a phone call with other party members. He allegedly released them from any obligation to support Trump. He told them to “do what’s best for you and your district.” I read that loud and clear as the right time for me to stand up and make sure that my representative and senator know what matters to me.
I can’t control the outcome of the presidency. But I can make sure that the legislative branch and the media know just how many people are not represented by the mainstream candidates. Because that is the first true step to reform- when people stand up and make their voices heard.
Several third party candidates have been disruptors and effective change agents. Whether or not you agree with his politics, Ralph Nader has very successfully managed to get his platform noticed while running as a third party. Gary Johnson has effectively raised awareness of the Libertarian platform (which is about more than legalizing pot). Theodore Roosevelt was another very notable and effective third party candidate.
Your vote matters because it sends a message about the direction you want this country to go in. I for one do not want anyone to ever get the idea I support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I want to send the message that I believe in immigration reform that allows for a kinder, gentler approach on the path to citizenship. I want to make it clear that I welcome refugees with welcome arms. (And that I believe every statistic Donald Trump, Fox News, and Breitbart has ever offered about refugees to be 100% fiction.) I believe in a strong military, and even stronger cybersecurity. (And let’s not forget that when asked about cybersecurity, Donald Trump’s answer was about how his 10 yr old son uses lots of apps.) I am okay with higher taxes, because higher taxes mean more money for education, welfare, and the military. (I am taxed at a much higher rate than anyone else reading this because I am a single, with a decent income, and no dependents, and no mortgage.) I support Hillary Clinton in her efforts to reform higher education tuition. I absolutely do not want to build a wall between the US and Mexico. I believe strongly in providing foreign aid. (Something I am sure will disappear under Trump.) And I am modern and smart enough to know that abortion is an important topic, but also one already decided by the Supreme Court. In other words, I don’t care what current candidates’ views are on the subject.
Because we will not be happy with either candidate winning the White House, it is more important than ever to send the message to the world what it is you believe in. Make sure your local representatives know what you think, and will represent your views in Congress.
Are you loyal to a party name? Loyal to the candidate that fronts that name? Or are you loyal to your personal beliefs? Which message do you want to send to the world?

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