American voters are in a tough spot this season. Regardless of their decision, many people find themselves fervently defending their choice to their peers. Yet, those in the third-party camps keep hearing that they are simply wasting their vote. This is misleading for several reasons. Before we begin though, let’s leave out those using “our votes don’t matter” as a motive, since they likely aren’t the ones defending their candidate. It is doubtful that we will see this group in the voting booths come November.
So, operating under the assumption that our vote matters, saying it is impossible for a third-party candidate to win is abhorrently false. It is simply that they have not riled enough support to get the needed number of votes. However unlikely it may be, it is still not impossible. This has often been used by those with the majority of support to bully those in the minority into abandoning their views to gain more votes. There is no reason that, had the roles reversed, the third-party candidate could win just as easily.
People also like to argue that voting third-party is equitable to throwing your vote in with the “losing” major party candidate. Because had they have gotten those third-party votes to go their way, they could have won. This is the worst type of voter intimidation. The truth is that no one is entitled to your vote. It is something that should be earned. When candidates lose, it is on them. It is not because I should have given up my moral or ethical standards to settle. It is because they did not do a sufficiently good job convincing me they held the moral conduct necessary for office. When we overlook that fact and instead chastise the outlying voters, we destroy the entire election process.
Some of you will refer to past elections where the possibly worse choice of the two major candidates won by small margins, with the blame falling on third-party voters. The biggest example being in 2000, when Ralph Nader received more than 2 million votes, ending with George Bush winning by less than 500,000 of the over 103 million total votes. This is often looked at as the downside of third-party voting, yet this again assumes that people are entitled to others’ votes. Trying to eliminate the competition of a third candidate by scaring voters into thinking the least qualified will win, is not true. In the previous example, had Al Gore been the clear choice over George Bush as people like to argue, that’s exactly how the election would have gone. It would not have come down to a recount in a single state. He simply would have crushed Mr. Bush, and that would be the end of it. Yet, he didn’t, not because third-partiers didn’t succumb to pressure, but because he failed to prove he was the better choice.
The same holds true in our current election. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and their pundits have all been gearing up to place the blame on Johnson and Stein voters when their candidate takes the fall. So we can hear for the next four years how much better it would be if the other candidate had won, if only it weren’t for those pesky voters with standards. What they are actually doing is enabling. Enabling candidates to pass the buck when it comes time to see why they came up short. Why they weren’t able to show even a smidgeon of difference from their opponent. So, no, I refuse. I refuse to condone that type of dumbing down of the electoral process in the name of a lesser evil. My vote may not be a vote for a winning candidate, but at the very least it will protest that degradation of the system. Because as much as they try, the buck stops with them, and my vote is never wasted.
* Thomas J. Eckert is a college student graduating with his degree in December. He studies economics and history and writes in his spare time on political and economic current events.
Thomas J. Eckert
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