As I alluded to in my earlier piece Don?t Succumb, as a Libertarian for the past 9 months or so, I?ve been accused of many things, among them:
- Helping Trump win
- Helping Hillary win
- Throwing away my vote
- Voting for a pothead
- Being an unrealistic far-fetched idealist
I?ve taken these accusations into consideration. However, I still chose to vote for Gary Johnson on my absentee ballot just a couple days ago. Let me explain why.
The Purpose of Voting
There are two basic reasons for voting in any election, on any subject, ever:
- Change the outcome
- Make a dissenting statement
Changing the Outcome
While we like to think that our vote in the 300+ million people in the United States is truly significant, unless you lived in Florida during the Gore vs Bush election, most of our votes for president are actually fairly meaningless and un-impactful when viewed from the perspective of actually changing the outcome of the election. This becomes particularly true when you factor in the electoral college, and you live in a resolutely blue or red state. If you live in Florida, perhaps you should hold your nose and vote the lesser of two evils. However, I?m going to focus on the majority of the country that does not live in a battleground state.
Counted in Dissent
The less often discussed purpose of voting is to have your dissent counted. After all, if you?re not in a tight battleground state, you could just skip voting for the president altogether since your vote makes no difference to the outcome of the election, but we resolutely march to the polls. Why? Because the dissenting vote is still critically important. It?s important for a few reasons:
- When the winning party begins to govern, the percentage of people who voted against them will be taken into account in terms of how much of a mandate they have to govern as they please.
- 2-3 years from now when we begin this crazy process all over again, political leaders of our major parties will look at who dissented, why, and whether they dissented to a major party, minor party, or write in to determine which candidates to support, how to frame messages, etc.
- Political leaders of our minor parties will also look at who dissented, why, and how to determine whether it?s worth the money to mount a 3rd party campaign.
- If any minor party wins 5% of the popular vote (yes, popular vote, they don?t need to win any states), then they will get major party status and public campaign dollars making them better able to mount a serious campaign for 2020.
Therefore, while it?s fair to say that the way you dissent may make little difference to the outcome of the 2016 election, it may make a difference to how the president governs over the next four years, and may make a significant difference with regards to our 2020 options.
Three Key Questions
As the political parties prepare for the 2020 election, and others in the future, they are going to look back at this election to answer a few key questions:
- Will Republicans vote for their nominee, so long as he checks the box of pro-life, regardless of his morality, ethics, ways of treating people, or even whether he can articulate any particularly great ideas?
- Will Democrats vote for their nominee, even if she is under investigation by the FBI, has destroyed evidence, and is being accused of a variety of other scandals?
- Does the electorate actually care more about and respond better to conspiracy theories, slogans, and twisted truths than about facts, proposals, and qualifications?
These are very, very important questions, the first two will determine the options we have in the future. The third will determine whether future elections trend back towards emphasizing facts, proposals, and qualifications, or if they continue the current depressing trend of more and more bizarrely theatrical mudslinging.
If the answer to these three questions is a resounding yes (as it appears it will be), the lesson learned will be that it doesn?t matter whether a candidate is moral, ethical, treats people with respect, obeys the laws of the land, or even has anything worth saying. All that matters is whether they can destroy the other candidates in the party and win the nomination. This will result in ever worse candidates being nominated and ever worse people becoming president.
Think Long Term
As I?ve looked at the two reasons for voting that I outlined above, and examined my personal situation (voting in a state that has gone Democrat for the past 6 elections and where the Republicans voted against Trump in the primary), I determined that the first reason for voting was irrelevant and turned to the second reason and the key questions. I, like many of you, am concerned about the direction our country is going. These are some of my personal top issues:
- The excessive size, regulations, and debt of our government
- The anti-Christian agenda being pushed by the far-left
- The decreasing morality and ethics of our political leaders
- The environmental sustainability of our country and world
- Terrorism ? international and domestic
- Caring for the poor and destitute – sex traffic victims, low income people, crises pregnancies, refugees, etc.
When I look at this list, it?s incredibly unclear which party to vote for, but here?s my attempt at showing which major party (including libertarians) best addresses each issue:
- No one really
- Democrats ? or Libertarians if you assume they would dramatically reduce taxes and allow non-profits to take care of this
Looking at this list, three things become evident:
- I don?t fit nicely in any party.
- To see results in the areas I?m most concerned about, we desperately need to build coalitions across party lines and place people in government who know how to find compromises and get things done.
- The only way we?re going to fix the 3rd bullet point is by fundamentally rejecting any and everyone who violates it because neither party can claim the moral high ground in this area any more.
So, when I look at the impact my vote can have this year, it?s only value is in sending a message of dissent. If I voted Trump, this would be dissenting my state, but even if Trump won the national election, it would not be my doing. However, I?d be answering the 1st and 3rd questions with a resounding ?Yes!? and rejecting my number 3, 4, and 6 areas of concern. If I vote Clinton, I still won?t have any impact on the national election and will be answering the 2nd question with a resounding ?Yes!? and I?m not even a Democrat. If she wins, my vote won?t even be counted as a dissent. However, if I vote for Gary Johnson, I send a loud ?No? to all 3 questions and send the following message to political powers across the nation:
- Morality does matter.
- Good ideas do matter.
- No one is above the law.
- We need a government that can work together and bring the best from all areas.
- We desperately need a new party that actually represents me.
Yes, but does it matter?
Thanks for sticking with me so far. If you agree to this point, you?re probably asking yourself, ?Yes, but who cares?? ?Does it actually matter that you?re sending this signal into the ethos?? ?Is anyone actually listening?? ?All these statements are wonderful but will they actually have any impact??
I?d love to say ?absolutely? with some amazing statistic or a Trump-ish flair of ?Trust me!? However, I can?t. I honestly have no idea. It may be that our nation is gone for good, sunk too far into the sink hole of partisan bickering, corruption, immorality, conspiracy theories, and other muck that there?s no way out. Maybe everyone is right that we just have to go from election to election picking the lesser of two evils, and watch as the country continues to go down the tubes either slowly or quickly.
However, this is not what our Christian faith teaches us to believe. This is not what our national history teaches us to believe. And darn it, it?s not much fun to believe. So, as for me and my house, we?re going to believe there?s still a chance, however slim, that our nation is not beyond repair, that we can dig out of this cesspool, and that there are still some good people in politics that are ready to roll up their sleeves and start digging. We?re going to choose to believe that just as our nation was able to end black slavery, fight a civil war, and then actually manage to rebuild ONE United States, we can once again find it in ourselves to build ONE United States, not a Democratic Divided States and a Republican Divided States.
Am I an idealist? Perhaps. Will I be fighting for something that can never be achieved? Perhaps. However, I was taught that throughout our great nation?s history we?ve had idealists who have fought for the impossible and achieved it: George Washington, Paul Revere, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, the list goes on. I was also taught that throughout Biblical history we?ve had idealists who have fought for the impossible and achieved it: Moses, Joshua, Esther?dare I say?Jesus?
Each of these people fought against the naysayers of their generation in order to give us what we have today. I hope and pray that we have the fortitude and vision to do the same in our generation.