Tag Archives: independent

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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