(Part 1 of a 3-part series on the 2016 election.)
Back in 2012, which now seems like the good ol’ days of presidential politics, I wrote a post and a follow-up about how I approach voting. My general approach hasn’t changed much, but some other things have. I’ve gone from a small-l to a capital-L Libertarian. I’ve also come to believe more in the importance of local politics, which led me to start a local Libertarian Party chapter and to consider running for local office (probably coming in 2017).
I still believe, and now more strongly than ever, that the only way way for my vote to count (particularly in a non-swing state) is to vote for an alternate party candidate. I’ve been hearing for years that I should ignore my convictions and vote for someone I don’t believe in because the alternative is somehow worse. This year it is more evident than ever. The result of two-party, lesser-of-two-evils politics has come to a head–two wildly unpopular, corrupt, candidates who I’m told I have to vote for or else I’m enabling the other.
Predictably, since this year’s candidates have been past the tipping point for many, more effort has been exerted attempting to convince voters that an alternate party vote is a wasted vote. Some even go beyond the ridiculous, “A vote for [alternate party candidate] is a vote for [major party candidate they don’t like],” but in essence they all end up making the same mistake–equating a non-winning vote with a wasted vote. But I choose to play the long game. Much can and will be accomplished through those “wasted” votes.
- Nationally, 5% of the popular vote gives presidential candidates access to public funding. That is well within reach this election.
- In Illinois (and several other states), 5% would drastically reduce the ballot access requirements. The Libertarian and Green Parties had to collect in excess of 50,000 signatures this year to be safe from challenges, while Republicans and Democrats only have to collect less than 10% of that. 5% would free up those party resources currently spent on ballot access.
- Membership, activism, and awareness for alternate parties are way up this year, so a respectable turnout and vote will help fuel that going forward.
However, those are all mechanical reasons why my “wasted” vote counts. I’m not sure any of those would be enough to sway me by themselves.
I vote third party because view both major political parties as evils themselves (not just the candidate du jour). My Libertarian vote and activism is against both Republicans and Democrats equally because I believe they both perpetuate a harmful system for their own power, influence, and wealth. As a result, policies are continued that actually hurt and kill people, and the status quo is maintained because breaking the status quo might mean that Republicans or Democrats might lose power, or even worse, might have to actually run on a platform of ideas not just mindless attacks and fear-mongering.
People of principle don’t continue wrongs to maintain power. They are willing to risk defeat for the sake of what’s right.