The talk has begun again. You hear people saying they’re thinking about voting for somebody–ANYBODY–but Tweedledee Obama and Tweedledum McCain.
Then almost as reactive as drawing a breath, the same people wonder aloud, “Am I throwing my vote away by voting for someone I know isn’t going to win?”
Is it throwing your vote away by giving it to a third party candidate?
No, Not at all.
Is it impractical? Probably.
Is it an exercise in futility? Oh, hell yes.
I don’t have any special love for Democrats over Republicans. They’re no different for me than a Chevy is to a Ford. They are vehicles. Political vehicles that are useful to get stuff done. Every car has four tires and a steering wheel. Every car can make turns to the right and turns to the left.
I’ve voted for a third party candidate before in John Anderson back in 1980. Couldn’t vote for Jimmy Carter. Wouldn’t vote for Ronald Reagan. It was a easy call.
And I’ve been blamed by family and friends for putting Reagan in the White House ever since. Never mind if every vote Anderson won was given to Carter he still would have been beaten stupid by Reagan. Ronald Reagan is my fault. I feel terrible about that.
Except that I don’t.
Nobody says you have to vote for Candidate “A” from the Republicrats or Candidate “B” from the Democans. If you don’t see any difference between Barack Obama and John McCain, why give your one vote to either one? I see plenty of differences personally, but it’s fine with me if you don’t.
If you can live with the almost dead certainty that your chosen outsider candidate won’t win and can’t win, then go for it. No skin off my nose. There’s a certain delicious freedom that comes with voting your conscience and knowing you will not have to take the blame for anything that happens for the next four years.
Not until there is a powerful and established third party to break up the Democratic/Republican dance will voting for a third party candidate be an exercise in futility. Get some Libertarian or Green Party or Socialist mayors, governors, school board and city council members elected before putting all the eggs in one basket and go gunning for the White House. Talk about the reach exceeding the grasp.
Viable alternatives to the present political monopoly will have to start the same place they did: building the perfect beast from the ground up. It’s slower and takes a lot of money, time and patience, but its’ the only way.
Until then, third parties can only be spoilers and king-makers at best. They will never be kings. I speak from experience. I’ve voted my conscience before. Now I follow a more practical, if conventional approach. But I’ll play this game until someone comes up with a better one.
Your protest votes don’t matter. Your principles don’t matter. What matters is getting your hands on the levers of power. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.
And I’ll tell you that for free.