Wasting Your Vote

With elections looming this week, it seems as good a time as ever to revisit the badly misunderstood concept of Vote Wasting.

The standard lie, perniciously attractive to uncritical thinkers, is: When you vote for someone who “can’t win,” someone from, say, the Green Party, you’re wasting your vote. Therefore, the flawed reasoning goes, one should always vote for the lesser of two evils rather than a third (or fourth) choice who has little popular support but who best represents one’s values. Furthermore, the story continues, if one “wastes” their vote on an unpopular candidate, one is “helping” the more evil of the two evils win.

Be the change you wish to see. That means voting for candidates who most closely align with your politics. Doing otherwise robs you of your democratic power. Basing your vote on what millions of other people think, not what you think, is antithetical to democracy. You might even say it’s unpatriotic. (But isn’t everything these days?) The broken, dysfunctional system sputters along more or less as is — two corporate-funded political mafias that marginalize alternatives to the binary model. We collectively allow this. The befouled juggernaut runs on money and apathy, including voters too apathetic and lazy to investigate their more-than-two-choices. Instead of doing hard research, it’s much easier to simply declare, “Well, she can’t win, anyway. So I guess I’ll keep voting for the party that seems less evil than the other one.”

But what if every voter disgusted by both the Republican and Democratic Parties, fed up with constant militarism at the cost of education and healthcare, woke from their slumber on Tuesday morning and, en masse, voted for candidates who think the only war the United States should be fighting is against climate change?

What would happen is a lot of candidates who “couldn’t win” would win.

The biggest winners, though, would be everyone who lives here, as well as everyone who doesn’t. The United States of America would finally have leadership that represents what most human beings want, no matter their language, color, or mode of religion.

When you vote for a third party candidate, your vote is worth exactly the same as a vote for the big two, but with better intentions behind it. The only way to waste a vote is to cast it for someone you don’t really believe in.

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