Today I had a political conversation with someone that shares a lot of my political views. While we were discussing how democracy is being overrun by capitalism, I started to talk about what we can do to bring the two back into balance. Since fighting for the people's rights over corporations means standing with candidates who are not mainstream he brought up the point that, unfortunately, you have to vote for the lesser of two evils otherwise you are throwing your vote away. My vehement response,"Hell no it isn't!" got a response of attempting to explain to me why it is. Since we have similar political views, he allowed me the privilege of explaining my reasoning and at the same time why voting for the lesser of two evils would be throwing my vote away. This got me thinking about the many reasons why people might think that not voting for a major party candidate is throwing your vote away. ...
Be Part of a winning team:
Many people just want to be a part of a winning team. When it comes to party politics, even minor party politics, people feel very strongly about their team. From a psychological standpoint, it is understandable. Much like sports rivalries, political party rivalries get in the way of objective thought. Many people have chosen Democrats, many have chosen Republicans and while quite a bit less many have chosen other parties such as Green, Libertarian, Reform, Constitution and oh so many more. Let us not forget all the candidate who choose not to be tied to a party but instead choose to run as Independent, Declined to state, et cetera. These differing groups are representative of the opinions of all types of Americans. It is important that as many of these voices as possible get heard. By voting for a minor party and/or individuals that share your values you give them a better chance of being seen and heard. If you vote Democrat or Republican just because they are more likely to win it just keeps these important voices away from view, unable to make any real difference. Remember that many, if not all, of the most progressive changes in the United States have started from the voices of independents and minor parties.
A Vote for X(non-evil minor candidate) is a vote for Y( the greater evil )
Then there is the reasonable argument that a vote a minor party candidate is a vote for a competing major party candidate because it takes votes away from the lesser evil major party candidate. On the surface, this argument makes sense. It makes sense, especially if you are in say the Democratic party, that someone who says they are going to vote Green or for Ralph Nader would most likely doesn't want to see a Republican in the White House so they should vote for a Democrat to make sure that doesn't happen. This really goes back to the 'Winning Team' argument. People in the Democratic party often mistake all progressives as Democrats while non-Democrat progressives often do not find the main stream Democratic party candidates as very progressive. From what I've read, many Republicans mistakenly think all conservatives are Republicans but many conservatives don't find the main stream Republican candidates conservative enough. It sounds like a whole lot of people need their voices heard, and that isn't going to happen by voting for major party candidates. Besides, a vote for a minor party candidate is only a vote for that candidate because no one else earned that vote. If you want people to rank their votes by preference, take a look at (instant) runoff voting and make it happen.
The reason to vote minor party / independent
If, like me, you were raised that America is the land of the free because of the brave this is a no brainer. Often, people hear( or read ) that statement and think of soldiers only. There is another group of brave men and women, people who stood up to the status quo to change things for the better. Think it's great that a woman has a chance at being president? Women have some brave independent souls to thank for the privilege to even vote. Think it is great that a man of color might be president? Once again, it was independent third parties( abolitionist ) who first brought the idea of ending slavery to the table( Abraham Lincoln was a Republican when that was a minor party ). Don't forget the brave independent thinkers who gave all citizens, regardless of race, the opportunity to vote and run for office. And for those of you who are thinking there is still work to be done, let me tell you, that is status quo getting in your way. I apologize to the conservatives, but being a liberal it is difficult for me to cite examples - oh yeah, Ross Perot actually got a tax and spend Democrat to balance the budget and lead us toward a budget surplus. However, the Commission on Presidential Debates( corporation run by Dems and Reps ) made sure noone heard him debate the 2nd time he ran and in doing so made it near impossible for any minor party or independent candidate to be a part of the national debates.
Voting for a minor party or independent candidate is never a wasted vote. Unless you believe in the democrats or republicans and what they stand for over any other candidate, a vote for a major candidate is a vote thrown away. You have not made them earn your vote. They can now take your vote for granted and go to work for the corporations, which they can't take for granted, instead of you. Write letters, tell them how you feel, it won't make a difference if they can count on getting elected next cycle. I am open to a major party candidate earning my vote. They have until November. Until then I currently have 3 choices, Ralph Nader, whomever the Green Party chooses and Mike Gravel; if the Libertarians choose him as their candidate.
Of course, these are only a couple reasons why people think one way or the other. Do you have another perspective? I would love to hear it. Please comment below.