Oct 242020

Election season is upon us yet again, which means it’s just about time for anyone who’s not registered as being affiliated with 1 of the 2 major parties to start hearing about how voting for anyone other than {speaker’s preferred major party candidate} is effectively voting for {candidate from the other major party that the speaker can’t stand}. It’s my biggest pet peeve of the whole process, mostly because the argument is stupid. Vote who you want to vote for, and if they’re not running under a “Big 2” ticket, then vote for them anyways, they’re who you want to vote for.

The biggest issue with the whole “A vote for {X} is basically a vote for {Y}” statements is that they utterly ignore how elections work. Election results are determined by the candidate with the highest vote total. Voting for a minor party candidate influences their vote total, but as it turns out, does absolutely nothing for anyone else’s vote total. If the 2 major party candidates have 100 votes each before someone goes into the booth and votes for minor party candidate X (who has 50 votes), then when that voter leaves the booth the major party candidates will still have 100 votes each, but the minor party candidate will have 51 votes. You see, it turns out if you vote for a candidate, it’s exactly like for voting for whoever you marked on the ballot. People complaining about how “It’s like voting for {politician they hate}” just hate the fact that there are voters that don’t vote the way they do, which is not your problem.

Elections are fundamentally about the population registering their favorite choice about who they prefer represent them. People that are considering voting for minor party candidate clearly aren’t satisfied with the major party options. Being told that not voting for a candidate the individuals in question don’t like could contribute to another candidate that they also don’t like winning isn’t remotely persuasive. The argument people are being presented with is “If you don’t help ensure an outcome you don’t particularly like, we’ll get an outcome you don’t particularly like!” Just out of curiosity, do the people spouting this crap have a reason to vote for their candidate, or is the motivation just fear of their team losing? If we’re going to be dissatisfied either way, why not be dissatisfied while registering the fact that a influentially-sized segment of the population asked for something else? Major parties always have the option of identifying the parts of minor party platforms that appeal to voters and adopting them. The fact that they don’t and instead berate people for not voting for them may be why people are looking to vote for other candidates in the first place.

The whole argument boils down to the fact that the person making it really hates the other major party’s candidate but has no reason why you should vote for theirs. And if you don’t have a reason for why I should vote for your candidate, then why should I? I get it – the other option’s terrible too, but that doesn’t make your terrible option any better. To be honest, if that’s your best line, then the person you’re so desperate to avoid “helping” is likely a better option. They’re supporters can usually make an argument for why I should vote for them, even if they’re wrong. If neither party has a reason to vote for them other than “the other party sucks,” well, that’s probably why people start thinking about voting for third parties in the first place.

It’s election season, vote for whoever you want, but keep in mind not only that there’s more than 2 options in a lot of races, but that it’s OK to vote for 1 of those other options. Most people don’t like to be forced to admit this, but you’re not single-handedly ruining representative governance by voting for somebody 3 or more names down. No candidate, from any party, is entitled to your vote, nor do you have any sort of moral obligation to cast a vote that maximizes the chance of a candidate other people don’t like losing. In the voting booth (or filling out your absentee ballot, however you’re voting), it’s just you and your preferences in representation. Vote however you want, and don’t accept anyone else telling you that you shouldn’t vote for the candidate you prefer. Maybe if we all started voting for the candidates we liked best instead of trying to make other candidates lose, we’d stop getting the terrible politicians that we so richly deserve.

 Posted by at 4:04 PM