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The Wasted Vote Syndrome

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Too often, I have been told by people that they really do agree with most of what the average Libertarian candidate says, but they just can’t bring themselves to vote Libertarian (or any other third party) because that candidate has no chance of winning, making it a wasted vote.

If every person who has ever told me that actually voted Libertarian, there would be some radically different outcomes, and you wouldn’t see it as a wasted vote. You would wish you had done it sooner.

If you do largely agree with the LP, but are picking Bush or Kerry, or any Democrat or Republican instead of voting Libertarian because who you are picking is not his opponent, you will be sorely disappointed if your fall-back choice does win. Small-government voters who vote Bush instead of Badnarik will get bigger government anyway. Anti-war voters who vote Kerry will get war anyway. Etc.

Worse, you will have sent the message to the parties that they don’t have to change a thing. They have your support, and the proof is your vote. In fact, the only way to tell them that they need to change is to vote Libertarian. In fact, the only vote that is truly wasted is one cast for a candidate you can only begrudgingly support.

Indiana’s gubernatorial race is exciting for the object lesson that will come of it. Democratic incumbent Joe Kernan has stated his unwavering support for the construction of a new section of I-69, through new terrain, including wetlands. Republican challenger Mitch Daniels agrees with Kernan. There are many voters who hold the environment as their number one issue, and they normally vote Democrat. These voters are deeply disappointed by Kernan’s position. Some will waste their vote, and support Kernan anyway. Those who are disgusted enough by Kernan will vote for Libertarian candidate Kenn Gividen, the only candidate to oppose the new highway. The message will be sent to Kernan and the Democrats that environmental voters must not be ignored. When Kernan loses by 1-2%, and he sees that he lost 3% to Gividen, he and his party will get it. No longer will Democratic candidates for Indiana governor ignore the environment.

One thing to remember is that no matter if you are a Democrat, a Republican, or a Libertarian, you probably do not agree 100% with your candidates. Libertarians generally agree on principle, but that’s no wonder, as there is a libertarian philosophy behind the Libertarian Party. Still, I will scratch vote rather than go straight ticket Libertarian. The argument for scratch voting is more compelling for liberals and conservatives, because the choices are less clear due to the great variety throughout the major parties. For instance, Democratic Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana is easily more conservative than Ohio’s Republican Governor Bob Taft. Indiana Democrats can vote for Kerry and Bayh, but why would they? Heck- Bayh advertises how much he voted with the President! Actually, it’s pretty easy to waste your vote going straight ticket Democrat or Republican.

Win or lose, voting isn’t about picking a winner, although you hope your views are in the majority. Voting is about exercising your conscience.

To all of the people who voted for Al Gore in 2000: Was your vote wasted? You know that your candidate didn’t win, so, would your vote have been better placed if it had been cast for Bush? Didn’t think so. No, your conscience was with Gore. Your views more closely coincided with Gore’s than with Bush’s. You made the right choice for yourself, even if it did end in defeat. You have no regrets.

Vote your conscience. Let the results fall as they may.

Originally posted to my blog kolehardfacts.

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About Mike Kole

  • Dracula

    “Mr. President, this job can’t be fun for you any more. There’s no more money to spend — you used up all of that. You can’t start another war because you used up the military including the reserves. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare — helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard’s bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one’s speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

    “Now it’s time to do what you’ve always done best — lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It’s time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you’re saying — there’s so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don’t. I know, I know. There’s a lot left to do: here’s a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

    “But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You’ve performed so poorly I’m surprised that you haven’t given yourself a medal. You’re a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

    “On your watch, we’ve lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon, and the City of New Orleans! Maybe you’re just not lucky. I’m not saying you don’t love this country. I’m just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

    “So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is, ‘Take a hint.'”

  • Dracula

    Bush is too stupid to be a war monger. Simply put…he is nothing more then the rich man’s rich man. Just like his daddy and his daddy’s daddy ronald reagan, Bush simply wishes to fleece the middle, lower class and senior citizens to benefit the already rich and wealthy. Bush and the corrupt republican party have successfully turned congress from being the people’s house to being their personal auction house for corporate and special interest. These guys make Nixon look like a saint.

  • gman

    I am so ashamed that I wasted my vote on george war bush. What was I thinking? Why did I let my right wing extremist, neo-conservative, neo-evangelical thinking get in the way of exercising sound personal judgment? Growing up, I was led to believe that the republican party was a grass roots party of the people & for the people. In retrospect, it is clear that the last 3 presidents produced by the republican party were nothing more then the rich man’s rich man hiding under the disguise of the overly misused term, “conservative”. The economic dark ages of reagonomics fleeced the middle and lower classes of this county simply to benefit the rich and wealthy. George warmonger bush has quietly shifted this country back to those economic dark ages. Bush inherited a strong economy and squandered that real quick. And even though 9 -11 did happen, none of bush’s reckless decisions are in any way justified by that day in history. It is clear that he never had any real salient foreign & domestic policies when he became president in 2000. Now we have 4 more years of neoconservative republican lies and a growing body count overseas. When are people going to wake up to the truth that neoconservative political philosophy does not work for anyone but the rich and wealthy at the top? When are people in the USA going to wake up to the fact that neoconservative republican political philosophy does not even cross paths with reality?

    Anyone who believes george war bush’s lies about promoting democracy in these middle eastern Islamic states is living in serious denial of reality. Those who believe bush’s lies are simply easy pickins and victims of logical fallacies. Historians and political scholars realize that to impose such changes on another country takes decades and that is only if it seriously adopted. Also, the very definition of democracy is not something that the United States has any claim of ownership. Even some communist states think that what they have is democracy. If we ever actually do get out of Iraq, nothing will have changed and nothing will have been gained. The American people have never been given a specific objective in Iraq or a clear definition of exactly what victory in Iraq is from the president. Invading Iraq never had anything to do with, WMD, freeing the Iraqi people or making Americans safer and secure. Statements about WMD, Freeing Iraq or Making America Safer are nothing more then a marketing spin used to hide the ugly truth and make the lies palatable to the American public and justifiable to the red necks who voted for him. Bush likes to make statements such as “It’s worth the price” but he never says just what exactly “it” is. If he really believes that, then he should put his money where his mouth is and send his little party animals to go fight in Iraq. The republican party claims to be for smaller less wasteful government but the current administration is responsible for the waste of more money, resources and human lives then any past democrat presidency. I have a hard time sleeping at night knowing that the blood of Americans and innocent civilians is on my hands and the hands of those who voted for george warmonger bush. The real legacy of the bush cabinet is going to be one characterized by lots of wrongful deaths, lots of money and resources wasted, unnecessary tax increases for our children and grandchildren and the unnecessary destruction of various social programs that good decent people count on.

    Thanks to bush and his power hungry cabinet who all want to control congress, the senate & the supreme court, the USA is now a third world country with a disappearing middle class. Neoconservative agenda is to make the USA just like Mexico with the top 2% all rich and the rest of us poor. Now that I know that invading Iraq was all about oil and nothing more, all the senseless deaths of Americans and Iraqi civilians takes on a whole new meaning. It would appear that even the constitution means nothing to bush and his cronies. It has been reduced to something to be twisted and manipulated by neoconservative agenda to make the rich richer and screw over the rest of us. Now that the USA owes all these hundreds of millions of dollars to countries like China, Germany, Russia & Japan, I wonder which language I need to learn for the day when these countries come to collect…

  • Texan

    I am so ashamed that I wasted my vote on bush. What was I thinking? Why did I let my right wing extremist, neo-conservative, neo-evangelical thinking get in the way of exercising sound personal judgment? If being conservative means fleecing this nation, getting our people killed for the control of oil, murdering innocent people, shifting the direction of our economy back to the dark un-prosperous days of reaganomics and destroying the middle and lower classes of this country to benefit the rich & elite, then a lot of people need to re-evaluate what they think they are when they say that they are conservative. Why? Because that is exactly what has been happening to this country over the last 5 years thanks to those who claim to be conservative or neo-conservative. These are the same people who fear truth or facts about what’s really going on in our government. Anytime someone exposes the lies of the bush cabinet, these so called conservatives have a pattern of accusing people of believing liberal lies. It’s pretty bad when truth is crying out to be heard and it is continually reduced to being liberal lies by those who claim to be conservative or even Christian. Those of you who support bush should all be ashamed. The following is not a pro Clinton or pro Democrat statement but simply a statement of fact and those who ignore this are hypocrites. These so called conservatives and republicans raked Clinton over the coals for his indiscretion with an intern. However, the very same people condone the murder of our citizens and Iraqi civilians, blatant lies from bush and his cabinet and a presidency that is extremely fiscally unsound with the underlying goal of raiding the nation’s treasury to benefit the rich and wealthy. The facts are all on the surface and bush supporters seem to enjoy having that knife further twisted in their backs by bush and his administration. Man…Nixon got impeached for offences far less then that.

  • i voted for Granny D for senate in new hampshire.

    wasted vote? dunno.

  • Taloran

    I have voted third party (almost always Libertarian) in every presidential election since I reached voting age in 1980. Except this year. I think getting Bush out of office is too important for the future of America, its youth, and the world to “waste” a vote. While I would prefer to vote my conscience, I had to vote for Kerry this year, as the lesser of two evils.

  • bhw

    Hey! Mike, you just tricked me into responding on the wrong thread! Ptttthhht!

  • bhw

    Candidates choose to campaign in the states that can help them. Right now, they campaign in states whose electoral college votes can help them. Without the electoral college, then candidates will choose different states.

    It sounds like you’re arguing for a process that gives artificial “importance” [for lack of a better word] to some states.

    Plus, there are many other ways for voters to learn about candidates without them visiting the states. Bush hasn’t campaigned in MA, yet I’ve heard a rumor that one or two people might still vote for him.

  • I think that if you eliminate the Electoral College, all campaigning will take place only in the following states: California, Texas, New York, Florida; possibly Illinois, Pennsylvania, and a few others.

    States that are currently battleground states are getting a lot of attention. If the EC were eliminated, do you really think that the candidates would have paid so much attention to New Mexico, Iowa, and Hawaii?

    The downside to the focus on the battleground states is that Indiana, Utah, Maine, and other large lead states are ignored. No getting around that. But without an electoral college, the very possibility of Indiana, Utah, Maine, New Mexico, and Hawaii even being considered for candidate visits is nil.

  • contrary to popular beliefs I am not a right wing nut…and here in VA, to make a statement similar to what Mr. Kole is saying here, I did vote for Badnarik for president. I for one have never voted down party lines.

  • Corrected link.

  • As I blogged here, some supporters of the Green Party have asked their voters in swing states to support John Kerry for president.

    And, as Bhw has said, I think thoughtful people often diverge from straight ticket voting anyway. I did not vote for the Democratic incumbent, David Wu, as one of my representatives.

  • bhw

    In 2000, many lefties voted for Nader as a protest vote. Some voted because they truly supported him. But others voted because they didn’t like Gore and/or didn’t like the two-party-only system.

    Unfortunately, the protest votes backfired. So I doubt Nader will get as many votes as he did in the last election. I think some of those year 2000 Naderites will vote their conscience in a different way this time: they can’t in good conscience essentially hand a vote to Bush by voting for someone other than Kerry.

    I always vote my conscience, and in local and/or state elections, as you’ve suggested in your post, I haven’t just stuck with the Democrat party ticket.