Throwing The Vote Away

Politics in this country have always been divisive and contentious.  Who one votes for can be a big part of one’s identity.  With the presidential elections only two months away, there is a lot of discussion on who will win, and by extension who people will vote for.  Some people are fed up with the current administration and want someone–anyone else.  Some are still quite enamoured of the incumbent and wish his to remain for four more years.  Some are very supportive of the challenger and wish him to take over.  There are those, however, who claim total disillusionment with the two-party system, the electoral process and the system of government.  Some of these individuals are choosing not to vote or to write in a candidate.  This is wrong on so many levels: it perpetuates the current system that is causing their disillusionment, it risks keeping an official in power who is the cause of disappointment, and it only feeds more dissatisfaction and frustration.
The reason we have elections every four years is to ensure we have fresh ideas in the white house, new perspectives to tackle our problems and to ensure that one person cannot build an intractable power base in the federal government.  The founding fathers wanted to avoid having a king in charge of the united states, and created the position of president with the limitations in place strictly to avoid that possibility.  The person we elect to the office is limited to two terms, and has to be reelected to the second term by running against and defeating a challenger.  If he cannot defeat the challenger, he only gets one term.
This is how the American people ensure we don’t have to settle for incompetent leadership.  If an elected official fails at the job they were elected to do, they don’t get a second term.  It is a simple system.  The elected work for the people, and this is how the people can fire the incompetent.
The vote has two functions.  By casting a vote for a candidate, a voter is expressing support for that candidate, while at the same time expressing disdain for the opponent.  If a third party is in the mix, the vote becomes muddied.  A vote for one candidate is a vote against the other two.  But suppose that of the three candidates, one is favored, one is a long shot and one is a contender.  The third candidate may have a serious chance of winning, except that the vote that may have put him over the top went, instead, to the long shot candidate, thus giving the victory to the first candidate.
A write in candidate rarely wins an election.  There have been write in campaigns that were organized when a potential candidate couldn’t get on the ballot for some reason.  Some of these candidates did indeed win, but most of these cases were for primary elections and senate races; never for the presidency.  Even a write-in candidate has to have the most votes.  Those that win still campaigned, getting the word out to the electorate to write their name in the ballot.  Casting your vote for a write-in candidate that no one else is voting for is throwing your vote away.  It is taking the five dollars your mom gave you for school lunch for the week and giving it away because Monday’s menu was unappealing, then wondering why you can’t eat lunch for the rest of the week.
Skipping the election is no answer either.  Refusing to vote simply perpetuates a frustrating system.  The only way to change an administration is to vote against it every chance one gets.  The country is filled with people who are fed up with the government, but who refuse to participate in it.  The government is not some foreign entity, some untouchable authority with absolute control over the citizenry.  The government derives it power from the governed.  They exist because we put them there.  If we don’t like the job they’re doing, only we can get them out.  We do this at the voting booth.
I am no fan of Obama.  I didn’t like his candidacy four years ago and nothing has happened in the past three-and-a-half years to change my mind.  In fact, my opinion has only solidified.  Obama is bad for this country.  He cannot be allowed four more years to inflict even more damage on the constitution and the well-being of this country.  He must be defeated in November and the only way to do this is to vote for his opponent.  Some would call this choosing the lesser of two evils, and that might be an apt comparison.
Mitt Romney is not my first choice for the presidency.  He is not a perfect candidate and while I do agree with a lot of what he stands for, I disagree with several of his platform planks.  But I am voting for him for the simple reason that he is running against Obama and I would vote for a monkey on a rock before I would vote for Obama.  But a vote against Obama is not enough.  If I voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, I would just be giving the victory to Obama.  Johnson has zero chance of winning the presidency.  Ralph Nader has zero chance.  Ron Paul has zero chance.  The only way I can effect change in politics is to vote for a candidate that can displace the incumbent.  The only way I can try to get rid of Obama is to vote for Mitt Romney.  Writing in my uncle’s name on the ballot will not do that.  Refusing to vote will not do that.
We rarely get the perfect candidate that we want.  We have to select the candidate that most closely reflects our personal values and will provide the leadership that is closest in line with our vision for the future.  If neither candidate provides that, select the one that comes closest.  Vote in November; but vote smart.  Make it count for something.  Don’t throw it away in protest.

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10 Comments

Filed under Media, Politics, Society

10 responses to “Throwing The Vote Away

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. Here’s an rock music analogy:
    I don’t know how old you are…I’m 50. My favorite genre of music in my teens & 20s was progressive rock, like Kansas, Jethro Tull, Emerson/Lake/Palmer, Yes, Rush, Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons, etc. This was complex, deep, contemplative music, which matched my brain style (and yours?). Today’s pop music seems superficial to me. It’s like music for the ADD-afflicted.
    Your rant is perfectlly directed at superficial, pop-politics. You’ve reached a deeper connection with what it means to exercise your American right to vote. You are anchored in the principles of the Founders. You get it.
    You’re trying to reach the same audience as me — people who are maybe on the fence, or don’t know how to sift through all the conflicting rhetoric and pop-media bias. Hang in there…I am feeling pretty confident that we’re going to be rewarded in Nov.
    – Jeff

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  2. “Some of these individuals are choosing not to vote or to write in a candidate. This is wrong on so many levels: it perpetuates the current system that is causing their disillusionment, it risks keeping an official in power who is the cause of disappointment, and it only feeds more dissatisfaction and frustration.”

    So are you saying that the people should just swallow the pill if they do not support either candidate? They should suck it up and be happy with the lesser of two evils – that in many ways – are not so different at all. That sound ludacris! That sounds like saying: “Shut up slave, we have chosen for you who you can vote for!”

    The two party system is broken and forces people to compromise their beliefs based on a popularity contest funded by those who have the money to promote their candidate. Big corps control the media and thus control who gets air time.

    What about the people’s interest? I say the ONLY way to show true dislike for either candidate is to vote for the person you believe in regardless of who is on the ballet. There is a reason these multi-billion dollar corps support these candidates. Right? They aren’t just throwing their money away – its an investment.

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    • Your argument is using flawed logic. To cast a vote in protest for a person who is not a candidate and has no chance of winning accomplishes exactly nothing. One of the two candidates that you despise will win and the system will grind along unchanged. The process of voting is to select the candidate that BEST represents your views. One of the two has to come closer to your views; even if it is only the smallest of differences with the other candidate. But to abstain from voting or to waste a vote by voting for no one serves no function.
      People have been decrying the two-party system since its inception. No viable third party candidate has ever come close to winning. In fact, H. Ross Perot was a third-party candidate in the Bush/Clinton election and the votes he garnered only served to put Bill Clinton in the white house. He was never close to winning himself.
      Those who voted for him did so to protest voting for either Bush or Clinton, yet they did not accomplish anything by doing so.
      If you want real change in politics, get directly involved with the process. Join a campaign and make people aware of the issue. Support candidate who will work for real change. Don’t simply cry about how bad the system is while throwing your vote away in protest. That accomplishes nothing.

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      • I agree with you Dave. Everybody doesn’t get to have his/her exact desires catered to by a perfectly-tailored elected representative. Political desires and responses are grouped together in coalitions, and one must pick from what’s on the menu. Griping about the menu doesn’t change this political reality. If there is some better system out there, ALL things considered, show it to me.

        This reminds me of something I saw on another blog about a month ago:

        “There is so much that our government does that I do not consent to: war, torture, spying, ridiculous welfare schemes etc. and there is no way for me to opt out of the situation. If I, one of the people, were truly sovereign, I’d be able to execute my will. That is clearly not the case. So, while our current system is certainly better than many others, it is by no means the be all end all of proper government. In my opinion, no government can be considered just unless a citizen has a right to secede without having to relocate geographically. Then and only then could you speak of the sovereignty of the people.”

        To which I commented:

        “Wouldn’t that be anarchy? How could there even be a society if it’s all a ‘free for all’ ? There are something like 315 million Americans now. How can the government enact 315 million different sets of policies, in order to individually please each of its citizens? I don’t understand the practical theory that underpins your desired scenario…. Are you just venting? Or do you have an innovative new government system in mind that can actually work the way you envision, where every citizen in a society gets to feel like their government responds to their individual wishes and never does anything they personally disapprove of? I don’t see how that could work for societies with more than about 10 people in them.”

        – Jeff

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  3. Halee

    I get that in a lot of ways… But gosh I still am not sure I can cast a vote that says “I think you are swell Romney” cause I don’t. Maybe he won’t be as “bad” for our country, but will he be good. He is still very liberal and it’s his socialist plan that Obama simply expanded for health care. How does one reconcile placing a vote in support of someone he does does like simply because he disdains another more?

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    • Your vote doesn’t say Romney is swell. Your vote for Romney says “You Suck Obama!” 😉 At least that’s what mine says.
      As I said, Romney is not perfect and I wouldn’t have voted for him in the primary (if I had a choice–he was the only one left when Texas had its primary), but he is a good bit better than another 4 years of Obama molesting the constitution and ruining our country.

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  4. Andrew

    Ummm… voting only for one of the two parties is what perpetuates this problem in the US. If we actually had people learning about the other candidates and learning their REAL policies we’d probably seem people spreading their votes out. Instead, people vote for the “lesser of two evils” or they vote for their party lines like good little sheep and we’re at the problem we’re at.

    Oh, and Romney would be just as bad as Obama. There’s no difference. Both are bought and paid for by the corporations of the world. Not the US, the world. Because all corporations are allowed to invest in politics according to citizen’s united and most of those are international. Don’t be a fool and think Romney is “a little better.” They’re both equally suck.

    And voting for a third party is NEVER a wasted vote. If you’re voting for someone who, even though they aren’t popular, matches up with your ideals better than any other candidate and you made an informed decision, you made a good vote and you did NOT waste your vote. The people who vote for the lesser of two evils, party lines, or don’t vote at all, they are the ones who waste their vote.

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    • I fully understand your point. But I remember how Clinton got into office because of Perot. A LOT of people liked Perot and wanted him in the office. But he was never a real contender because of some of his more radical views, and the fact that he didn’t have enough money or support to win important states. Bush would have had a second term if Perot was not in the race and if those who voted for him had voted for Bush.
      My position in this election is that Obama cannot be allowed a second term. He molested America during his first term, but knew he had to get a second term. If he gets that secon term, he has no reason to go so easy on us again. He will wreck our country. Of this I have no doubt.
      Romney is not the candidate I want. His support swings toward political expediency (but then again, I haven’t seen a politician that doesn’t) and he is too liberal in some ways for me. But since my candidate didn’t run, and my next favorite candidate dropped out, all I have left to displace Obama is Romney. A lot of people share my belief that Romney is not the candidate they want, but they also do not want Obama. Unfortunately to vote for anyone other than Romney is to vote for Obama. It is THAT simple. If you vote Green Party, if you write in a vote, if you skip a vote, you are voting for Obama. Please don’t vote for Obama!

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  5. Michael Gray

    If there are more than two candidates and 51% of the vote is split and 49% is for the incumbent, then the incumbent does not have a majority and so does not win the election.

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    • That is in the electoral college. In the state level, determining who gets the state’s electoral votes, the 50 percent plus one rule does not apply, the candidate that pulls the most votes (even if that is less than 50%) wins all the state’s electoral votes.

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