I made a few controversial claims in my piece on Monday, and I think that two of them probably bear further explanation. First of all, I made the argument that a vote is a positive affirmation. I will talk about that one today. The other claim I made somewhat implicitly is that we are not obligated to choose the lesser of two evils even in a system that is largely dominated by two parties. We will talk about that on Friday.
A vote is something that each of us decides to cast voluntarily. As citizens of the United States, we have the right to register to vote and the right to choose a particular candidate that has earned our support. We have different opinions on different issues without a doubt, and everyone has an individual calculation for how they determine which candidate will ultimately earn an individual’s vote.
As such, it is an individual choice that I make to support a certain candidate, and I respect the fact that different people will make different choices than I do. However, because it is my choice, I bear a certain responsibility if that individual is elected to office. Granted, it is a very small role because I am one person in a very large country in a state where my vote is not going to impact the Electoral College outcome whatsoever. Regardless, there is a very small burden of responsibility that I bear simply for casting my ballot. There is a very, very small chance that my vote could impact the outcome of the election, but hypothetically, that chance is not impossible for the sake of argument.
If a candidate then gets into office that I have voted for, then I am partially responsible for that victory. Again, it is a very small part, but it is a part nevertheless. I then have to be able to support what that candidate is going to do while he or she is in office because I have been a part of that process. Therefore, I am partially responsible for the results that come about as a result of that presidency.
As an American then, obviously I want to see a leader who is able to do great things and make a positive change in our society. If I do not believe that either major candidate is capable of doing that and actually believe that both of them will lead us down different yet similarly dangerous paths, I cannot vote for a candidate I believe will lead us into danger. If a vote is a positive affirmation of support for a candidate can entails partial responsibility for the actions that person takes, I would then be acting in a way that is contrary to my desire to see America flourish. I would be taking partial responsibility for that candidate taking us down a dangerous path, and I cannot do that in good conscience when I have other options I can support.
Consider then the implications of not voting for a candidate for the sake of comparison. I did not add anything to any candidate’s victory by not voting for someone else. The hypothetically victorious candidate received a certain number of votes that he or she earned from voters who decided they could make a positive decision to vote for him or her. Those people bear the responsibility for choosing their own candidate because they are the ones who have made the positive decision to support that candidate. I do not take responsibility for the ways that other people have chosen to vote; I cannot control their own positive affirmations.
A positive vote is one that brings with it a responsibility as an affirmation. It is how we demonstrate our support of a candidate. Therefore, by casting that ballot, I am affirming that I am okay with the person I am voting for. I simply don’t feel like I can do that with any of the major candidates on the ballot. I don’t want to be complicit with the rise to power of either one, so by choosing to vote for a third-party candidate, I am going to be putting my support with somebody I can actually support.
It isn’t enough for me to only oppose; I want someone I can get behind with a clean conscience.
I would rather vote with a clean conscience, call a spade a spade and have the ability to say that I did not affirm the lesser of two evils. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Rather, I can say I supported a better way. When people understand the chaos they created, they will be ready to listen for someone who is offering something better. Staying ideologically purer is the only way we have the credibility to actually suggest that better way.
On Friday, we will talk about the two-party system and a bit more on the objection to only really having two choices and necessarily having to choose between those two no matter how bad they might be.