As convention time approaches, I’m once again wondering how the heck I should cast my vote when election time rolls around this fall. I distrust both major parties, disagree with them on most issues, and don’t believe that they have the good of the country or its citizens in mind.
President Obama is just another politician whose primary interest is power and who will do or say anything to retain power. The same goes for Mitt Romney. One of these two will almost certainly be elected President of the United States come November. I, however, will not be a part of electing either of them. I will not vote for Barack Obama or for Mitt Romney. I don’t know who will receive my vote, simply because I don’t yet know who will be on the ballot. But it won’t be one of those two.
I said that on Facebook yesterday, and somebody asked me, “Why vote for somebody you know has no chance at winning?” In the past, people have said to me, “A vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote.”
I disagree strongly, and in doing so have had some heated and, to me, amusing discussions. In general, I’ve found that if I express a political opinion that is not aligned with one party or the other, partisans on both sides either dismiss me as a crank or, more frequently, come together to denounce my heresy. Vehemently. Until I point out that they’re actually agreeing on something.
The President is not elected directly by a majority of the popular vote. The workings of the Electoral College are strange, but in principle each state’s electors cast their votes for the candidate who receives the most votes in that state. In Texas, Republicans have won every Presidential election but one since 1968 (the exception being 1976, when no Republican could possibly have been elected–not after the mess Nixon made) by a reasonably large margin. Polls show that Romney will almost certainly carry Texas in this year’s election.
By the “wasted vote” logic expressed above, casting a vote for a Democrat in a majority-Republican state (or for a Republican in a majority-Democrat state) is a wasted vote. For all the good their votes will do this year, Obama supporters in Texas should just stay home.
I distrust party politics, and I distrust those who the parties elect to represent them. For all their superficial differences, both parties have shown that they share the same belief: that people should be subordinate to government. In their collective lust for power, both parties have created a government that is, in practice, the ruler of its people. The parties perpetuate it by framing the political discussion as an “us versus them” issue. You’re a Democrat or you’re a Republican. The other side is evil, immoral, untrustworthy, etc. As long as the American people continue to buy that false dichotomy, we will forever be enslaved by our government.
I don’t believe that it’s an “us versus them” issue. I don’t agree that the electorate is made up of “liberals” and “conservatives” who are at odds on every issue. I find myself siding with liberals on some issues and conservatives on others, and I believe that the majority of the American people are the same. But we are forced to pick sides in elections.
I will have no part of it. I will not cast my vote for a Republican or for a Democrat. I believe that both parties are evil and I will not be forced to choose the lesser of two evils. Whereas it’s true that my single vote won’t change the outcome of the election, by casting my vote I’ve done my civic duty and I can look myself in the mirror on Wednesday morning after the election. In addition, I’ve made it known that at least one person is disgusted with both of the major choices.
Imagine a slightly modified version of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” in which one member of the town is selected by lottery and then the entire town votes on what should be done to that person. The town is dominated by two parties: the Burners who advocate burning at the stake, and the Decapitators. But there’s a small third party, the Freemen, who don’t like the system and advocate setting the person free.
If you were selected in the lottery, how would you cast your vote? Would you vote to be set free, knowing full well that you won’t be, or would you feel more comfortable knowing that you voted for the party that ends up carrying out your execution?