Is a third-party vote "wasted?" If so, how? If not, why?
Don is up first this time, and his answer is here. Go read the whole thing.
I had to laugh reading his answer. Why? Not at him personally... but because he is taking the "Yes" side of this question, and he starts off like this:
This question is trickier to answer than it appears. Because it assumes that any vote could be wasted. The simple answer to that question is, “No, a vote that is cast is never wasted.”
My own gut reaction to that question has always been a resounding "Yes! It's a waste! Worse, it's a vote for the opposition!"
But he went on to make a sound argument for why it is a wasted vote... and I'll now do my best to present why it is not a wasted vote. Since that answer is not the one I would have given if asked even a short time ago, I've had to do some soul searching (not to mention some Google searching) to come up with a response.
The answer lies in what the electorate wishes to accomplish. Change of ‘regime,’ be it Democrat OR Republican; or more specifically, change of ideology in either party can only come about via infiltration and usurpation of said party.
This makes sense. In a sane world, it might work. But in what time frame? Realistically, we can only be thankful right now that the progressives haven't been able to force their agenda of change on the schedule they'd hoped to. A bottom-up infiltration of an unwilling and aware entity could take decades... if it succeeds at all. And if I may speak just for myself, I don't care if we ever change the ideology of the party. Party means little to me, personality and principle mean much more. Just bring me better candidates.
Some would point to the NY-23 debacle as an example of why you should not vote third party. From DefenseMechanism:
That said, the split in the Republican vote between the Conservative Party candidate and the turncoat RINO, who dropped out of the race and threw her support behind the Democrat, gave the left-wing party of big government and restricted individual freedom the win in the congressional election.
I think it proves instead the point I'm trying to make. The trouble with NY-23 wasn't knowledgeable voters resisting a RINO liberal and breaking for the third party candidate. The problem was an arrogant Republican Party that ignored those voters, then sent Newt Gingrich to tell the common folk what was best for them. Had the Republican establishment thrown their support behind the popular and desired conservative candidate, Hoffman and the GOP would have both won - as would the voters.
I guess if you want to believe in changing the Party, a third party vote may seem like a waste. But if you're like me and believe the Party can't - or rather won't - be changed, then a third party may be the only way to go. It's got to come down to what you want to stand for come election day...
I, for one, have grown weary of choosing the lesser evil. Or the evil lesser, whichever the case may be. And I'm coming to agree with an essay at NolanChart.com, the site where you can take the famous political quiz. From the piece:
Is voting for a third party candidate wasting your vote? I can't tell. If you cast your vote in hopes of turning a third party into a viable national party, yes, definitely. You are ignoring reality. If you cast your vote because no other candidates represent you then no, your vote isn't wasted.
That's what it's coming to for me. I'm going to vote for the person I think is best for the job, and never mind the Party choices. Will it reform the Republicans? I doubt it. But if they lose enough elections due to independent-minded conservatives like myself breaking for the third party, perhaps they'll start looking for more appropriate candidates. Sadly, I think losing more elections - or the threat of such - might be a more effective goad toward change than trying to work our way in and change them from the ground up.
In closing, I'd like to leave you with wise words from President John Quincy Adams:
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”