People ask me all sorts of questions, many of them strange or dubious or otherwise fascinating. I’d like to record some of the questions and my answers to them for your entertainment, disgust, or casual indifference.
I get the same question over and over around this time of the election cycle from plenty of people who don’t know me well enough yet to guess the answer I am likely to provide. Many people seem to have a certain amount of curiosity about what I will do with a ballot regarding the Presidential race. I don’t mind sharing my intentions on the matter, but the inevitable questions that follow tend to be real eye-rollers for me.
When I let them know that may vote for the Libertarian candidate or write someone in, the real entertainment begins. First, the look of puzzlement, bewilderment, and utter confusion spreads across their face like homemade strawberry jam on warm toast. Second, they look thoughtful and one can almost see the question forming before they manage to utter it. Third, the question springs forth from their lips with all the force of the wisdom of the ages, “Why waste your vote like that?”
The image in my mind at the that moment probably bears some small resemblance to this:
It’s so cute when people ask me the question, because up until now they have found me to be a perfectly sane, sensible, and fairly rational person in our interactions. But now, they give every impression that they know the terrifying truth that I’m one of those crazy people who votes for wild-eyed fringe third party candidates or maybe even *gasp* writes one in.
My first answer to their question is that I like to vote for a candidate who actually shares many of my policy preferences (i.e. not bankrupting our nation, not killing people overseas all willy-nilly quite so often, not ignoring the Constitution and eroding civil liberties). I would submit that if you think bankrupting our nation, more killing of foreigners, and eroding civil liberties are good ideas and that voting for candidates who seem intent on doing those things is a good idea…well, maybe I’m not the crazy one.
My second answer to their question is that my vote is inherently a protest vote against what I see as the systemic corruption that infects our major parties. Corruption is inevitable in government, and the greater the power of the government, the more attractive its offices to the corruptible. It’s not surprising that corruption has become a larger problem as our government has grown larger. I don’t think it’s some giant conspiracy, just the inevitability of human weakness. And in the context of our political system the only way to hold those corrupt folks accountable is to elect someone else who is not currently part of the big business we call politics which happens to be crushing the populace under its heels either intentionally or unintentionally. It seems fairly straightforward to me that we should really get a handle on that corporate infiltration of government thing, regardless of whether you lean left or right on the economic spectrum.
The responses to my points vary somewhat, but because I’m a practical man, they usually try to appeal to my practical side in an effort to sway me from harming the chances of the person they see as the lesser of the evils. “But don’t you think that (insert their preferred major party candidate here) is the lesser of the two evils and that you may be handing the election to (insert the candidate they view as the greater of the two evils here)?” Well, maybe. It depends on what metric we use. For example, Obama might be likely to kill somewhat fewer foreigners, whereas Romney might love the drone strikes even more, hard to imagine as that is. Or Romney may not drive us toward an economic crash quite as quickly as Obama, as hard to imagine as that is. They both seem to really like eroding civil liberties, though. Tough call on that one.
My first answer to their question is to point out that it doesn’t really matter which one I think is the lesser of the two evils, primarily because I’m simply not limited to choosing between two evils here in what I like to call the real world. I do have more than two choices, and like the grown man that I am, I’m capable of choosing among multiple alternatives using my awesome superpower of compare and contrast.
My second answer is that I know damn well I’m not handing the election to either of the candidates regardless of whether I vote for one of them or for a third party candidate. I know that because I pay attention to the polls and I’m aware of which one will win the electoral votes from my state of residence. The margin between them is quite high, and the odds of a surprise swing in the other direction make it more likely that the dreaded voter fraud occurred than anything else. I can vote for whomever I like, and it impairs neither Obama or Romney in their chances of winning. Not even a little. And even if it did impair one of them from getting elected, why on earth would I feel directly responsible for it myself as if it all depended on me? I’m sharing the responsibility for that with millions of other people who vote.
My third answer is that my vote against corruption, against eroding civil liberties, against wanton violence, and against bankrupting our nation seems to me much less wasteful than a vote in favor of whichever candidate represents those things to varying degrees. I think it’s a waste of time to vote for evil when you don’t have to.