You should all be proud of me; for a long time I was ambivalent and cynical about the whole process and couldn’t be bothered to swing by the courthouse and register. But I’ve taken care of that, and now I’m all set to put on pants and stroll down to the polling place next month and punch the ol’ chatted ballot for a third-party candidate. Why? Well…
1. My Vote Doesn’t Matter
Now before you go and tell me that every vote counts, take a look at this map. I happen to live in one of the states that is dark red. This means that my state is going for Romney, no matter what. It’s not even close. About half of the states in the country are, like mine, either dark red or dark blue. If you live in one of those states, your vote doesn’t matter either; your state’s electoral vote is pretty much guaranteed. Several of my more conservative friends are concerned that “a third-party vote is a vote for Obama”, but in my state that’s simply not true.
So while my vote won’t do anything to affect the outcome of the electoral college vote, it will count toward the popular vote. That means it won’t change the outcome of the election, but my voice will be heard. If you’re in a grey, pink, or light-bluish state, this point doesn’t apply to you. But the rest might, so keep reading…
2. I’m Not Afraid of Barack Obama
Remember 2008? I do. Conservatives were terrified of Barack Obama, and thought everyone else should be too. Depending on who you asked he was quite possibly a communist, a Muslim, or the antichrist. His election was going to be the end of America. In retrospect, it turns out that Barack Obama wasn’t a secret terrorist, communist, or dark lord from the fiery pits of hell. He was (according to the GOP) just another Jimmy Carter – weak, ineffective, and incompetent
This year I refuse to allow fear-mongering to determine my vote. Every day I hear that “this is the most important election we’ve ever had”. You know what? I heard that same thing in 2008. In fact, back in ’08 Focus on the Family released a “Letter from 2012″ painting a dark and horrible picture of what America would look like after four years of Obama. They foresaw a country overrun by gays, atheists, and terrorists. But out of 34 dark predictions, they were wrong on 33.5 of them. Four years ago I allowed fear-mongering and worst-case-scenarios to determine my vote. Not this year.
Besides, even if Obama IS secretly a terrorist/communist/antichrist who is just waiting for re-election to unleash his dark plans on America, my vote won’t change that (see Point 1).
3. A Vote for Romney is Short-Sighted
This article notes that 75% of the time, the incumbent president is re-elected. Also, once a candidate unsuccessfully runs for president, he usually doesn’t get to run again. Therefore, it argues, all the smart Republicans who are serious about getting elected (Christie, Rubio, Daniels, Bush, etc.) are waiting ’till 2016. (This explains the abundance of clownish characters in the Republican primary this time around.)
If Obama gets re-elected this year, you’ll have a chance to vote for one of those conservative guys in four years. But if Romney gets elected, you’ll wind up sitting through four or eight years of a guy who is arguably exactly the same as Obama on most issues. After that, people will be tired of Republicans and we’ll never have an opportunity to vote for Marco Rubio.
4. We Need More Voices in the Conversation
I think we can all agree that our nation’s political machinery is broken. Washington is strangled in red tape, and any real issues get so tangled up in politics and money that nothing gets done. When Presidential elections roll around, we are often left with two choices that nobody is very happy about. Then people scramble to justify their favorite of the two candidates, all the time bemoaning the poor choices offered.
Imagine instead a multi-party system, where candidates would actually have to be GOOD, rather than less annoying/scary than the other guy. We’ll never get that if we keep refusing to vote for third-parties because they don’t stand a chance. I know they don’t stand a chance this time, or next time. But maybe in 20 years, or maybe in 50 years, they will have a voice in the conversation and we’ll be a healthier nation for it.
If you really don’t care this time around, or if you aren’t inspired by either major candidate, or if you feel like it’s a pointless/hopeless lesser-of-two-evils scenario, consider taking this step forward with me?
5. My Faith is Not in a Candidate
There are many voices urging participation in this election with an almost religious fervor. It’s not uncommon to see even pastors and churches jumping into the fray.
But my hope is not in a particular candidate. I don’t believe Obama can bring peace or end poverty. I don’t believe Romney can keep me safe or make us wealthy. I don’t believe a third-party candidate will give us true liberty. My hope is in Jesus, who was surprisingly anti-political. Over and over he reminds us that His Kingdom is spiritual. That is the Kingdom that should concern us.
Yes, politics matter. Yes, voting is important. But my destiny does not rest in the Oval Office. So with that in mind, I will put on pants and stroll down to the polls next month to punch the ol’ ballot for a candidate I’m actually excited to support.