Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sick of the Two-Party System? Stop Voting for It.

I hear it pretty regularly. There are problems with a “two-party system”. Not enough choices. Not matched up closely enough with individual ideals.

I get it. And I largely agree. Obviously, look no further than the current presidential election to see that a two-party system has major flaws.

But do you know who is to blame? You.

That’s right, you. There is some sort of mania that American society suffers from that makes them think the two-party system is set in stone. I hate to break it to you, but there is nothing that is holding us back from having more political parties. Sure, there are the local laws about having the same number of Republicans and Democrats on a committee or in a polling place, but it’s not like those are huge barriers. No, the biggest barrier to having more competitive political parties is us.

Jill Stein (left) of the Green Party and Gary Johnson (right) of
the Libertarian Party
See, the Constitution says nothing at all about political parties, much less how many there have to be. James Madison, in Federalist #10, said that political parties are virtually unavoidable due to the differing beliefs of people. He and the other Federalists thought that such factions were dangerous, and therefore believed that the best way to avoid abuse of power and corruption was to have many political parties. That way, each one would be too weak to have the ability to crush the other parties.

And that’s exactly what we haven’t done.

For a while, there were sometimes three or four major parties. But after the Whigs fell apart, it’s basically been Democrats and Republicans. And it’s been that way for so long that citizens think those are the only choices, and throw around all the balderdash that a third-party vote is a vote for the “other guy”. Let’s do some quick math:

Let’s say I vote for Donald Trump. This is what that looks like in terms of net votes:

Donald Trump – 1   Hillary Clinton – 0

Now let’s say I vote for Clinton (and am subsequently institutionalized):

Donald Trump – 0   Hillary Clinton – 1

So far, the vote for one candidate means that there is a vote for that candidate, and not a vote for the other candidate. So far, so good. But now let’s say I vote for Evan McMullin, an independent that is very competitive in his home state of Utah:

Donald Trump – 0   Hillary Clinton – 0   Evan McMullin – 1

So what I’m told is that a vote for McMullin is a vote for Clinton. But it seems like that the “1” is by McMullin’s name, not Clinton’s. It seems like I’ve been lied to. See, with the second one, I give Hillary Clinton a net of one vote over Trump. In the third, there is no net vote of Clinton over Trump because I didn’t vote for Clinton.

So enough of the awful math skills, please.

People have been so conditioned to an either/or mentality that they can’t bear the thought of voting for anyone else. Now, I sympathize with those that abhor Donald Trump but think that voting for him is the best we can do. I’ve debated it. In 2012, I was six months too young to vote, but I would have voted for Mitt Romney. I’m not a big fan of his, but he was good enough in comparison to Barack Obama that I would have decided to vote for him anyway.

I’ve never been 100% against Trump. I largely agree with him on immigration as well as other issues, and I do believe he is a better option than Clinton.

But good enough? I can’t say that. There are too many things wrong even with Trump. When I see two people unfit for a position, my tendency is not to try and choose the least worst. It’s to look elsewhere.

So if I’m dissatisfied with both the Republican and Democratic candidates, should I feel obligated to vote for one of them anyway? I’d say no.
Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party

I realize the fact that even Gary Johnson would be a longshot to win the presidential race, and he would have to win at least one state. Jill Stein is even lower, and Darrell Castle lower still. So yes, I understand that the president in 2017 will almost certainly be Trump or Clinton. But that is beside the point.

The point is that I refuse to justify the Republican Party’s bad judgment by voting for its candidate. I’m not going to vote for a ticket simply because it is the Party’s nominee. I don’t care if I am a registered Republican. If the Trump Train is chugging full speed over a cliff, I’m jumping off and taking my chances.

A vote for a third-party candidate voices our dissatisfaction with the two candidates we have been handed. It sends a message. That’s why I am encouraging dissatisfied voters to still vote rather than refuse to vote. A large number of votes towards smaller parties will tell Republicans and Democrats that we won’t cave to their terrible choices.

And maybe, just maybe, in the future there will continue to be more people that support third parties that align with their ideals. And maybe, just maybe, other parties will begin to compete with the big two.

But that will never happen unless we take the first step of voting for people that have “no chance”. Competitive parties aren’t developed overnight.
Evan McCullin and vice-presidential nominee Mindy Finn

So my encouragement to those of you that are dissatisfied with the options before you—as I know many of you are—is to find a candidate that actually aligns with your beliefs and would not make a mockery of the office, and vote for him or her. Then sit back and watch the major parties squirm. Your vote is very important, not a “throw-away”. Don’t be bullied by people who agreed with you three months ago but now consider you illogical. Stand your ground despite those caving around you.

If I stick to my principles, I cannot in good conscience vote for Trump, and certainly not Clinton. I’ve been asked how as a Christian I cannot vote for Trump to stop Clinton. I would counter: how can someone as a Christian compromise on so many principles in the name of preventing someone else from winning the election? I answer to God for how I vote, and one day I would have to explain to Him why I voted for a pro-choice Planned Parenthood admirer that boasts about extramarital affairs and sexual assaults while childishly hiding behind supporters to defend his degrading comments about women and Twitter arguments with gold-star parents. I don’t think “well he’s better than her” will cut it on that day. I’d rather fight a “losing battle” than choose an evil side. If you can stomach voting for Trump, I won’t think less of you, but don’t go criticizing Christians that can’t. We are losing our credibility by defending indefensible things and excusing the behavior of a man simply because we’ve made up our minds that we have to vote for him because he’s not someone else.

There are other options.

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