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So, You’re Thinking of Skipping the Elections? Voting Third Party?

Read This First.

I’ve been a voter for ten years. My first-ever ballot was cast for President Barack Obama back in 2008. Admittedly, I’ve not been the most careful or consistent voter. I’ve missed out on a lot local elections in these last ten years — and that’s not a good thing. I’ve gotten better, though, and I’ve never operated under the false premise that voting doesn’t matter or that not voting is somehow righteous and puts me above the system. I have met far too many people who refuse, for these and myriad other reasons, refuse to vote.

I will absolutely grant that there are legitimate obstacles to getting to the polls. Election Day should be a Federal Holiday, but isn’t. Election Day shouldn’t still be held on a Tuesday, but is. Felons should not lose the right to vote, but do. Many people are forced to make an abhorrent choice between voting and putting food on the table. Other eligible are actively being disenfranchised by corrupt politicians who rely on low voter turnout to win. This article is not addressed to those who cannot vote. It’s addressed to those of you who make the conscious choice to forgo your civic duty or who insist on throwing away your vote on a third-party candidate.

My district always swings the other way. Why does it matter if I vote?

In the 2016 election, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin went to Donald Trump despite having been reliably blue since the 1990’s. Did the fact that their state had been blue for decades stop those Trump supporters? No. They came out to the polls and they won against all odds. It shouldn’t stop you, either. More votes means more chances for your party to beat an entrenched incumbent.

Look at 2016 — the popular vote doesn’t even count in the end! There’s no point in putting my voice out there if it won’t be heard!

Do you want to know who agrees with you? The approximately 2.4 million voters across 14 states who went to the polls in 2016 but left the presidential line blank. Not to mention the other approximately 93 million who stayed home. The difference between Trump’s and Clinton’s votes was only about 3 million. Imagine the difference those 90-odd million voters could have made, especially spread across crucial swing states.

I absolutely believe that the Electoral College should be abolished. Do you want to take a guess, though, at how we can make that happen? Hint: it’s not achieved through not voting. If anything, that’s what proponents of the Electoral College want, to discourage you from voting so that it’s easier to sway a smaller pool of voters.

Plus, remember that the Electoral College only applies to Presidential elections. Everything from Congress down is done by popular vote. You have no excuse in 2018.

I shouldn’t be forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.

That’s true. You shouldn’t, but you are.

The lesser of two evils is still, you know, the lesser of two evils. Given the choice between two evils, you should make sure the lesser one wins. Even if two things are bad, if one is better that’s the choice you should make.

If you’ve never heard of it before, consider the Trolley Problem. You are standing by a fork in the tracks as an out-of-control trolley approaches. There is construction in this area of the track. Five crew members are working on one side of the fork, one crew member on the other. Directly in front of you is the switch that controls which track the trolley will take. Ultimately, someone is going to die. Not making a choice is still going to cause harm, but you have the power to minimize the suffering of others by voting. Why would you choose to walk away?

By calling it the lesser of two evils, you acknowledge that there is a better choice between the two. Why let the worse of two evils win? How does that help anyone?

They’re all the same! Choosing one over another won’t make a difference!

I understand that there is a certain level of (perfectly justified) cynicism regarding politicians and how they operate. There are also certain aspects of American government that are pretty standard across party lines. That being said, there are still very tangible differences between the two current leading parties. To say otherwise is to be disingenuous.

To claim that there will be no difference in your life if one or the other party wins is a direct admission of privilege that should make you think deeply about how your actions affect those who are not so fortunate to remain unaffected by politics. Just because something doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it can’t affect others.

The system is corrupt. Voting won’t change that.

The system is controlled by those who are voted into it. Do you want to change the system? You’re going to have to either participate in it or completely overthrow it. I don’t see any of us beating a government that has drones and nuclear missiles, do you?

Apathy and Abstinence will accomplish literally nothing.

Imagine that you have been given a poorly-trained dog that eats your shoes, pees on the carpet, and barks at guests. Ignoring the dog or pretending it’s not there will not change the fact that all your shoes have holes, your carpets are stained, and your friends refuse to come over. If you want the dog to behave, you’re going to have to train it. Is it a pain in the ass to train a dog? Absolutely! Is it optional? Absolutely not!

The Federal Government cannot be taken back to the animal shelter. We’re stuck with it and we’ve got to do something about it.

I’m a third-party voter. I won’t vote against my own party!

In the 2016 presidential election, all third party candidates got a total of about 7 million votes. That’s about 4% of the total votes, split among three people.

I’m not saying that a two-party system is ideal. What I am saying is that, like it or not, a two-party system is what we have and that voting for a third-party candidate in national elections is just plain bonkers at this point, when third parties do not comprise a majority — or even a plurality — in the national political stage.

If you’re really serious about creating a multi-party system, then you’d better get really serious about local elections. Want to know what sorts of positions are easily attainable by third-party candidates? Local positions on city counsels and school boards. Trickle-down economics does not work. Trickle-down politics isn’t going to work, either. If you want third-party candidates in the Federal government, you have to start voting them in at the local level first and work your way up.

Presidential Elections are the only ones that matter anyway, right?

First of all, no. If you really want to enact any kind of tangible, political change you need to do it from the ground up. There are elections going on all the time for things like school boards, sheriffs, judges, mayors, and more.

Remember Joe Arpaio, the racist, lunatic sheriff? He was an elected official. He was re-elected five times, virtually uncontested. When was the last time you voted in a local election? Are you aware of who is running for city council? superintendent? Maybe you should find out, because there are a lot of local measures that don’t get nearly enough thought and attention as national campaigns and that’s what corrupt incumbents rely on to stay in power.

You can use a number of services like Vote411 to see exactly who and what will be on your ballot on Tuesday. You can even see opinions for and against specific measures and get tons of other great info. Don’t let yourself be blindsided at the ballot box!

Most importantly, 2020 is a census year. The party that controls Congress over the next two years is going to dictate the political landscape of the country through 2030. The current party has already stacked the Supreme Court for a generation to come. However you feel about that, this should make their intentions for the 2020 census clear.

Conclusion

The year is 2050. A great deal of time has passed since November 6th, 2018. To many people, the memories of that day have faded, but the lasting repercussions of the decisions made on that day have been felt through the decades since. A young person — perhaps your own child or grandchild — turns to you and asks you what you did on that day. Were you for or against what has happened since then? Did you try to influence those events or did you sit back and let the future just happen? History is being written as we speak. It’s up to you if want a hand in shaping what the history books will say.


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