Throughout this election season, as in the last one, I have written and discussed here and on Facebook about the need to break the two party, Democrat-Republican dominated political system in the United States. The adversarial aspect of this system has led to a stymied congress, lies, deceit, and an ongoing “lesser of two evils” approach to voting.
The election tomorrow seems to be potentially as close as any since Bush-Gore in 2000. Some have even speculated of an Electoral College tie between president Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Some of my friends have made the informed decision not to vote–and have been castigated for it.
The objection I normally face has been that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Barack Obama (if the objection is coming from a conservative) or a vote for Mitt Romney (if coming from a liberal). I reject this reductionistic approach as inaccurate and illogical. Others say a vote for a third party candidate is akin to throwing away one’s vote. On the contrary, I say voting for someone who does not best represent your principles and philosophy of government is throwing away your vote.
Considering such dominance from the Democratic and Republican parties when should you vote for a national candidate not among the two major parties?
1. When you would have to violate your conscience to do so. If an issues or issues important to you are ignored by the most well known candidates do not cast a vote for them.
2. If neither candidate has earned your vote. I do not look at my vote as something I give to a candidate. It is something they must earn. If he or she does not earn it, they do not get it.
3. If your state is polling overwhelmingly toward one candidate or the other. My state, Tennessee, has been Republican since before Obama was elected. It is not about to change; polling is not close to the margin of error. Because of the Electoral College, every single vote truly does not matter; only the total number of votes matter. For that reason you can confidently vote for the candidate your prefer with no concern you might rip the space time election continuum.
4. If you consider the lesser of two evils argument to be abhorrent. Some Christians will make the argument that we will never have a perfect candidate, so every choice is a lesser of two evils. I find this to be thoroughly unpersuasive. First because the “two evils” necessarily eliminates other, better choices. Second because the lack of perfection does not equate to evil. (Try that on your wife: “No, she’s not perfect. In fact, you might as well say she’s evil.” Good luck with that one.)
5. If you are more concerned about being the cure than spreading the cancer. Our political system, while functional, spews a dangerous toxicity. Abuses of power, mindless spending and selfish gain seem to be the norm on The Hill.
6. If neither major party candidate even begins to address issues of vital importance to justice. Most on the Right have reduced the idea of justice to abortion, while most on the Left have similarly reduced it to taking care of the poor. Where, in three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debates, were discussions about our unjust justice system, the unjust “War” on Drugs, concerns to address human trafficking, the NDAA, the unjust drone war? They were nowhere to be found. A candidate who thinks these major issues not worth a mention does not even qualify for the office.
Can you think of any other reasons to consider voting for a third (or “minor”) party candidate?