The “Wasted Vote” Fallacy

I had a number of political conversations over the weekend with people who, upon hearing that I planned to vote for the Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian 2012 Presidential Nominee, smugly concluded their side of the exchange saying something along the lines of, “Well, if you want to waste your vote…”

Their voices then trail off. I think it’s because even they don’t believe what they’re saying. I think it’s because, deep down, they know that they couldn’t be more wrong.

Here’s how I see it. The reason I became a Libertarian was that I no longer identified with the Republicans (or Democrats). I no longer supported their stance on fiscal or social policy. Therefore, voting for those two parties would be going against my beliefs.

I’m convinced that half of politics is based around narcissism on the part of the voter. It feels GOOD to say, “I voted for the President of the United States!” Well, I have no need to be on the winning side, when the winning side is WRONG. The fight is longer than a single Presidential cycle; the stakes are greater!

What we’re fighting for is not just the Presidency – it’s recognition of our party in our state. In Ohio, should we get just five percent of the Presidential vote, our continued ballot access is ensured. Libertarians won’t need to spend precious time & resources just to maintain our existence as a recognized party.

What we’re fighting for is not just the Presidency – it’s respect! At FIFTEEN percent, we start to be taken seriously by the MSM and by the other parties. They have to stop ignoring us at this point. At this point, we can no longer be lumped in with the “Independents”…we’re “Libertarians.” The brand has started to take root.

What we’re fighting for is not just the Presidency – it’s money! At just five percent nationally, we become eligible for matching funds for the next Presidential cycle. This is big: money is key in politics, and the system is rigged so it’s hard for smaller parties to get a piece of the pie.

Finally, what we’re fighting for is not JUST the Presidency – it’s our nation’s future! We all see the oncoming crisis of the ballooning national debt, but nobody seems willing to do anything to stem the tide. Both parties are spend-happy. One wants to keep spending, while lowering taxes in an effort to raise revenue, while the other party wants to spend more, while raising taxes in a futile effort to close the gap. Only one party, the Libertarians, truly advocates the only viable solution: stop spending! If we were in a car, hurtling towards a cliff, the two major parties would be arguing over how to slow the car down…but it’s too late for that. The Libertarian in the back seat would be trying to slam on the brakes AND turn the wheel. We need a different direction!

I normally hear the “wasted vote” argument from my Republican friends, who say, “we must get Obama out of office – our nation depends on it!” Here’s how I reply: “I don’t want to vote AGAINST anyone. I’ve done that enough. I want to vote FOR something. I want to vote for the party that will actually bring different ideas to the table, instead of the same old story we’ve gotten for the past two hundred years with the two-party system. I want to vote for the party that will restore Liberty, instead of eroding it at an ever-quickening pace. Don’t be absurd and tell me that my vote doesn’t matter. I have many reasons (outlined above) to vote the way I do. In short, there’s more to it than just winning THIS presidency. It’s about changing politics for the long term…for the better.”

If none of those work, I remind them of the following: First, neither party owns anyone’s vote. They must earn our votes by supporting the majority of our views. We have more than two parties and candidates on the ballot for a reason. I refuse to vote for the lesser evil anymore. Remember that those who do are still voting…for…evil.

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