Why I’m (also) Not Voting for Obama

Posted by tobymuresianu on Oct 12, 2012 in Politics, Thoughts |

Watching the debate yesterday felt ridiculous, since they didn’t address the biggest issue affecting the performance of government over the last 4 years – the inability of the two parties to work together.

It was telling that after a token question at the end about whether the parties were just tearing each other down rather than working for America, the two candidates responded by tearing each other down.

Regardless of who wins this acrimonious election, nobody is expecting bipartisanship to get better. It feels ridiculous to debate the candidates plans for this and that, when both will encounter a situation where they can pass very little.

American democracy has painted itself into a corner. The parties have defined themselves in opposition to each other, and we’ve seen how over the last few years the system has drifted into a situation where the party loyalists wield the power and push them farther to the extreme with each election cycle, thanks to silly primary systems, gerrymandering, and a perception of compromise as weakness.

Fortunately, if you don’t like the two party system, there is a solution. Don’t vote for them. Vote for a third party.

When I tell my friends this, sometimes they look at me like I’m a kook and say I’m “throwing my vote away.”

First, you’re always throwing your vote away, in the sense that your vote is not going to decide the election. Further, if you are a resident of the 40 states in the country that are not “swing” states, where the candidates have focused 93% of their campaign spending, a vote for either of the two parties is particularly meaningless.

Ask yourself – if your vote matters, why isn’t anyone trying to win it?

I live in California, the most populous state in the union, with 55 electoral votes. One would think that this would make it the most fiercely contested region in the country, and that politicians would be competing to represent our interests. But because we’re considered a safe blue state, that’s not the case. Isn’t that ridiculous? It feels like I’m a resident of Boardwalk in a game of monopoly where 80% of the properties are assigned to one of the two players before the game starts, and whoever gets St. Charles Place is declared the victor of the entire game.

If you’re in a “safe” state, your vote counts for far more if you vote for a third party because it sends a message and weakens the parties that are strangling our government. Imagine if this year enough people in “Safe” states voted for a third party to get 5% of the national popular vote. And then with the notice that created, in 2016, 10% voted for third parties. It might create an environment where a solid independent candidate could run for office and actually improve the way the country is run. Plus, the fewer voters parties can claim to represent, the less power they have to dictate votes of their members. On the other hand, if those voters just vote for the party they perceive as the lesser of two evils, those votes are washed out and forgotten.

In a free market, stagnant, out of touch organizations are supposed to fall and nimble, new competitors that listen to their customers should rise. There is a reason why our current parties are not the same ones that were established at the beginning of our republic, and they will not last until the end of time. The right thing to do for democracy to function is not to support them. There is nothing special about our current parties – there is nothing in the constitution providing for them, the founding fathers were against their existence, and if they had any brilliant solutions, they would have implemented them already when they were in power.

There have been some similar blog posts advocating Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. I don’t agree with many of his positions (I like that he is anti-drug-war, fiscally conservative, socially liberal, but dislike that he is pro-gun, anti-socialized-medicine, and supports a hands-off environmental policy). However, I think that the value of voting for a third party out weighs this. I would encourage people to vote for him, or for the Green Party, or for any that you consider to be a reasonable alternative to the two in power.

The two-party system derives power from your votes. If you want to lessen their power, vote for someone else.

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