The Myth of the Wasted Vote

I was a pretty ardent supporter of Senator Rand Paul for president, stating that he’s the only Republican Party candidate I would have voted for in the upcoming election. Since he’s no longer running, my support has shifted to Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, but will generally support whomever of the three remaining LP nominees wins their party.

Senator Rand Paul (R)
Senator Rand Paul (R)

On Twitter, I campaigned hard to any of my Republican voting followers that Senator Paul is their only candidate who can get libertarian votes, and even some Democrat votes, because his positions of liberty often span party lines. As such, I felt this strategy was their best path to the White House.

Was he polling well? No. But, this was mostly due to lack of name recognition versus the issues. More importantly, though, it’s important to understand that most Republicans will vote Republican irregardless of the specific candidate, so they would certainly follow Rand. Once he was the only person on the debate stage against a Democratic nominee, I felt he would easily win on the issues.

This might seem like I’m asking Republicans to pick my candidate instead of their own, which is counter to what I’m suggesting in this post in the first place, but the reality is that I always preferred Gary Johnson.

In supporting Rand however, I was offering what I would consider a highly favorable compromise. But the rest of the Republican voting block didn’t seem interested in such a compromise, and turned this into a negotiation where both sides agreed there simply was no deal to be made.

While I believe the remaining Republicans are slightly better than Democratic offerings, I refuse to vote for any Republican on the sole premise that it’s imperative to beat the Democrats at any cost.

The most common disagreement we have with the GOP, is that we largely disagree with their consistent efforts to subversively legislate Christian values, while skirting 1st amendment objections by simply not specifically mentioning god in such legislation.

For instance, if you look at Ted Cruz’s website, he has an “Issues” section where he specifically talks about fighting for religious liberty.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R)
Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R)

But one look at this page, it is clear that this is actually not about religious liberty, but instead, a Christian crusade of sorts.

While it might look like religious liberty to Christians, almost every issue is about fighting for Christians specifically with no protections offered to other religions nor atheists.

Let’s look at his 11th bullet reads as follows:

“Successfully defended the words “under God” in the Texas Pledge of Allegiance and Texas schools’ moment of silence law in federal district court.”

Not only is this NOT promoting religious freedom, he’s specifically promoting government imposing a religious reference in a government sanctioned pledge—the absolute polar opposite of religious liberty.

It’s this kind of hypocrisy, and misunderstanding of the Constitution from a lawyer who should clearly understand it better than most, that makes Ted Cruz come off as disingenuous, ignorant, and wrong.

While this is on Ted Cruz’s website, these Christian based ideals, are echoed by almost all Republican candidates, including Donald Trump.

Donald Trump (R)

While I have no war with religion, I don’t want to live in a country where I have to fear my leaders forcing me to be more Christian either.

Do I consider “Under God” a big issue? Not in the least.

I’m bothered that Ted Cruz considers it big enough to put on his website as one of his credentials, and under the banner of religious freedom.

More importantly though, I’d like to think he’d fight for my rights as an atheist if a Christian legislator attempts to violate them by legislating religious ideology. Based on this page of his website however, I genuinely don’t believe he would.

So what about the wasted vote?

Many Republicans have lashed out at me, arguing that people like me are giving Democrats the win if we vote Libertarian, and that we’re wasting our vote on someone who won’t win.

At first thought, it does make some sense. A majority of libertarians would choose a Republican over a Democrat if those are their only two choices, but this is a short-sighted view on their part, and frankly somewhat arrogant and presumptuous to assume I’d prefer them. More importantly, it’s counter to my own best interests in the long term.

Former Governer Gary Johnson - Libertarian nominee for President
Former Governor Gary Johnson – Libertarian nominee for President

The first and most important point I’d like to make is this. My vote is mine. No one has any right to it, and no one has any right to dictate to me who I should vote for. So if you’re a Republican who wants to attack me for voting libertarian, you’re out of line.

Second: Your vote is your way to influence change in government. It’s not just about winning, it’s about letting people know that while they may have a majority, that majority is potentially in jeopardy if they lose some support. That growing their support will require them to give more deference towards our ideals too.

But the more important point to understand about the wasted vote myth, is that if I continue to go along with the (not Rand Paul) Republican nominee, I’m supporting a system I don’t agree with. Voting for someone who won’t win isn’t a wasted vote, voting for someone I don’t want to be president is.

Because if I want libertarianism to grow, the only way I can do that is to vote for libertarian candidates and issues. Voting for Republicans will only reinforce the current Republican agenda with no deference to my own. In other words, what argument could one possibly make to believe libertarianism would grow if no one votes libertarian? So the only way I can waste my vote is by not voting for those who promote the ideals which I support.

If I vote libertarian, and Republicans do lose, this puts Republicans in a position of self-reflection as to why they lost, and how they can grow their party.

Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party

Many Republicans are quite libertarian in their views already, so it’s not that big of a leap, and I hope they consider it more seriously. They’ll hopefully recognize that the way to grow their party, is to be more libertarian on the issues. When you look at the issues that people part with the GOP on in the first place, you’ll find it’s the issues that libertarians and Democrats agree, and when people lash out at Democrats, it’s usually the policies where libertarians and Republicans agree.

I’d argue there’s a lesson in that for both the major parties, hopefully one or both of them figure it out soon.

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4 thoughts on “The Myth of the Wasted Vote”

  1. I could not agree with you more. I was Republican for 16 years before leaving in 2011 to become Libertarian. It’s funny how I keep hearing there are several angry Republicans and to a lesser degree, Democrats. They say they want change and want a third party option. Yet they keep voting “lesser of two evils.” Yet they fail to realize that if you vote “lesser of two evils,” you still get evil. Those people are no better than drug addict enablers. The logic of “why vote for a third party candidate when they won’t win” is another load of nonsense. Newsflash, the reason third party candidates don’t get votes is because the “lesser of two evils” crowd talks out both sides of their mouth. In one breath, they say they want a third option but come election day, they vote the Democrat or Republican parasite. If you want change, you have to create it.

    1. Thanks, Vince. I appreciate you chiming in and checking out the post. If you’re on social media, I hope you’ll share it. If we could just convince people to poll that they’re looking to the libertarian party, they can hit the 15% mark and get on the debate stage. From there, they can win or lose on their merits. I just want them to be heard, and hope the majority choose that message.

Drop some genius on me here.

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