So you think you're "wasting your vote"?

Perhaps no force in America's democratic election process serves more to keep Big Government big than the "wasted vote" argument.

Most elections - with the help of the mainstream media, ballot access laws, campaign regulations, and taxpayer-funded subsidies of politicians and political parties - are neatly organized into a two-way race between a Big Government Democrat and a Big Government Republican.

This Big Government 2-party dominance is so pervasive that many Americans believe that independent and third party candidates "don't count" because they can't "win."

As a result, many people argue that we must vote for the "lesser of two evils." This argument is used by both self-serving Democrat and Republican politicians (and their advocates) as well as by well-meaning voters who abhor Big Government and who actually want small government . They have bought into the idea that they must support a candidate who can win and that government has gotten so big and so bad, all we can hope for is to minimize the damage.

Almost always, the only small government candidates on a general election ballot are independents or third parties. On rare occasion a bona fide small government candidate runs on a Democrat or Republican ticket. However, they usually lose in the primary.

That's how things stand today - unless you help to change it.

(Important note: Never assume any candidate is for small government. Most are for Big Government. You can discern them by learning how to apply the Weight Watchers Test for Big Government.)

Readers of Small Government News, the official newsletter of the Center For Small Government, submitted these explanations for why those who want small government have nothing to gain by voting for the lesser of two evils.

How Readers of Small Government News
Respond to the “Wasted Vote” Argument

by Richard Rider [originally published Spring, 2004]

On big races(California state legislative races and larger -- including urban city council and county supervisor races), there is one point to remember – you as an individual will NEVER cast the deciding ballot. NEVER! Hence there is no reason to vote for the lesser evil.

I find it ironic that we hear the "wasted vote" argument most often in precisely the races where it applies least. A Presidential race will never be decided by one vote. And if, by some infinitesimally small mathematical chance it got that close, it would be decided politically in the courts, in the legislature or in Cook County, Illinois (where I plan to be buried so I can continue to vote after I'm dead and gone!).

Of course, in California, the outcome is already conceded by both sides -- there is absolutely ZERO chance that Bush will win this state. Kerry will win by well over a million votes. [POST-ELECTION NOTE: He did.]

I tell people that "if you go to the polls to cast the deciding ballot in major races and you value your life, you are making an irrational decision. The chances of dying in a car accident, or of being hit by a falling plane while going to or from the polls are far greater than the chance of casting the deciding ballot in big elections."

We AS INDIVIDUALS don't vote to select the winner. As a practical matter we vote to send to everyone else a signal declaring which choice best represents the direction which we want the country to go. Hence voting lesser evil sends the wrong message, and supports the wrong political positions.

Of course, in partisan district California races, most are decided in the primary anyway, thanks to bipartisan gerrymandering to protect incumbents. Only a handful of the 120 state legislative seats and 53 Congressional seats are seriously contested in November.

[POST-ELECTION NOTE: In the 2004 November elections, of the 153 state and federal district races in California on the ballot, not a SINGLE district changed hands from Democrat to Republican, or Republican to Democrat. NOT ONE! And none were even close.]

Even if once in your life you missed the chance to cast that mythical deciding ballot, the harm from selecting the wrong person in one election is more than offset by a lifetime of giving voter support to the lack of choice offered by the two party system.

Without a libertarian in a race I often choose to follow the advice of the adage "Don't vote -- it only encourages them." Fortunately, in most California partisan races, there IS a Libertarian Party candidate to vote for. Take advantage of that opportunity. Send 'em a Libertarian message.


A 2004 Post-Election Conversation

by Bryan Scofield

   "What was it about John Kerry that convinced you to vote for him?" I asked.

   "Actually, I'm not a huge fan of his. There are probably better people to run the country, but I definitely didn't want Bush to win again," he replied.

   "A few months ago you said that you agreed with just about everything I had told you about the Libertarian Party. Why didn't you vote for Badnarik?" I inquired.

   "I would have, if he had had a snowball's chance in hell of winning. I figured I would rather back Kerry, who was the only candidate that could realistically beat Bush, than waste my vote on Badnarik," he explained.

   "So if Kerry had won, you would have been happy that Bush lost, but not particularly thrilled that it was Kerry who was elected instead?" I asked.

   "Yeah, I guess that's accurate," he answered.

   "Interesting," I said. "I voted for Badnarik, who believes in the same principles as I, and he lost. But had he won, I would have been ecstatic. You voted for Kerry, who was in your mind the lesser of two evils, and he also lost. Yet if he had won, you still would not have been happy that it was he who became President.

   "My vote was a win/lose situation, while yours was lose/lose. So tell me... which one of us wasted his vote?"

   His silence was the only answer I needed.


The Vital Few

by Gerald S. Kaufman

Think of a company with three shareholders.  X holds 49% of the shares; Y holds 49%; and Z holds 2%.  All three have equal power in the company as it takes any two voting together to make a majority.

Think of our country, just about equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, with each getting 49% of the vote – or 49 Senate seats.  If we can get 2, we will no longer be simply a small minority party.  We will equal power with the others.

We don't have to change a majority of the voters to be in power; we just have to convince our own how important their votes are.


Simply Red and Midnight Blue

by Peter Orvetti

We in the Libertarian Party face the "wasted vote" argument quite often. It is time to turn it on its head, and to remind sympathetic voters that in many cases, voting for a major party candidate is wasting a vote.

In most elections, the outcome is pretty much known in advance. This isn't just true in the Red State/Blue State presidential split, but in Senate, House, gubernatorial, and local elections as well. In such "foregone conclusion" contests, it is wiser to use one's vote to send a message than to vote for the lesser of the two evils.

I live in Washington, D.C., and in 2004, I strongly preferred one major party presidential candidate over the other. But did that make any difference? My vote might have altered whether Kerry with 89% or 90%. Big deal. By voting Libertarian, I had the chance to register a message.

New York has had fusion voting for decades, allowing voters to pick a candidate while also making a statement -- "I am voting for this guy on the Conservative line to remind him to stick to conservative principles", for example. Most places do not have fusion voting, but since the results are known in advance anyway, why not take a stand? A left-leaning libertarian in Massachusetts (or Utah), and a right-leaning libertarian in Idaho (or Vermont) could say more by voting LP than by voting Democratic or Republican.

In California in 2004, Libertarian Jim Gray received more than 216,000 votes for U.S. Senate, a race incumbent Barbara Boxer won with 58% of the vote. But Libertarian Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik got just over 46,000 votes in that same state, though Kerry beat Bush by more than one million. That means there were 170,000 Gray voters who could have voted for Badnarik without having any impact on the electoral vote allocation. And how many more libertarian-minded Kerry and Bush voters "wasted their votes" by making Kerry's margin one vote larger or smaller?

We need to convince folks in the deep red and deep blue states that, far from being a wasted vote, a Libertarian vote often makes the most sense.


Vote to Influence Policy

by Jon Roland

A better, simpler way to put it is, your vote is extremely unlikely to affect the outcome of an election. All it can do is influence policy. And a vote for one of the two main candidates will be lost in the mass of voters, while a vote for a minor candidate, especially if he gets enough to make the margin of difference between the other two, will have far more influence. It will impel the other two parties to appeal to the voters for that minor candidate, and that may come to be as important if not more important than their main positions.

So vote to influence policy. Vote Libertarian.


The Real Wasted Vote

by Kenneth Hurst

Since I live in California, I use the argument that a vote for a Republican (most of the people I've encountered who have this dilemma want to not “waste” their vote by voting for a Republican) is a waste on all accounts. Not only do Republicans rarely get elected (Governor-ousting aside), but it's a vote for a party that the person doesn't agree with.


The Vote That Really Counts

by Tom Donnelly

My "Wasted Vote" answer is somewhat similar to Michael Cloud's, although there is a slight difference. I tell people that the only truly wasted vote is the vote cast on someone in whom you do not believe. I tell them that elections are not guessing games where the voter wins something by having cast a vote for the candidate that gets elected. And I tell them that I never waste my vote - I always make my vote count by voting for the person I WANT to hold office. In my case, that is almost always a Libertarian candidate.


The True Test of a Wasted Vote

by Donald Barsell

When do you know you've wasted your vote?

When either party you vote for continues to run up the national debt (which is now over Eight Trillion dollars and rising by Billions more each day.)


Instant Runoff Voting Eliminates Wasted Votes

by Dan Belforti

How to solve the wasted vote syndrome and two party monopoly? is Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation.  Most countries already have proportional representation, and there would probably already be a civil war in Iraq without it.  Many other benefits as well including incentives for Democratic and Republican politicians AND contributors to WANT to promote us in order to get our supporters' 2nd place vote.  Possibly the most important reform to government which would dramatically grow the Libertarian Party and our influence.  Another benefit is more positive political campaigns in general since less incentive to crush your opponents. Until this critically important reform is implemented, remind voters that when they vote for the lesser of two evils, they're still voting for evil and are part of the problem.


Libertarian votes are the only votes that matter


Reasons why you shouldn't waste your votes on democrats and republicans

by Gary Multer

If we carry the “I don't want to waste my vote argument” to its' logical conclusion, we realize that all votes are wasted unless the vote count results in a tie . Your single vote makes no difference at all unless it becomes the deciding tie breaker. We all know that the odds of an election being a perfect tie are so miniscule as to be virtually non-existent, yet we vote anyway. We “waste” our votes in every election. Obviously something besides determining who will be the winner drives us to vote.

A vote for a libertarian supports and promotes the values of freedom and liberty. Many people take their cues from other people. Most people don't like to be renegade standouts. People find a level of comfort in running with the crowd; even if the crowd is wrong. Do you believe in libertarian values and acknowledge that you would vote libertarian if more people did? Then remember that the best way to get more people to vote libertarian is to vote libertarian. The libertarian party doesn't need many votes to gain publicity. When a libertarian candidate gets a larger than expected number of votes it can help generate more publicity. Your libertarian vote helps to add to the party's standing in other people's minds. While I certainly wouldn't recommend this, even if you won't vote libertarian, you should probably tell people that you did.

Because the libertarian party gets so few votes, each one really matters. A vote for a democrat or republican is just another in that huge pile and has virtually no affect. But the libertarian party is still small enough to grow exponentially, and you help it to grow with your vote.

If you believe you shouldn't vote libertarian because Libertarians don't have a chance in this election, then remember that your vote won't be the deciding vote in this election anyway; but , your vote can have a real purpose. Libertarian voting is the long term solution. Voting not only decides the outcome of an election, it also sets the tone for future elections. It may be true that your libertarian vote will not cause a libertarian to be elected; but do we want to remain stuck in that dilemma forever? A tired old cliché holds true here: a libertarian vote is “for the children”. It really is. When today's young children grow up do you want them to be stuck under an oppressive government? Do you want your young son, daughter or grandchild to look at their first paycheck in astonishment and wonder why their check is so horribly ravaged by taxes? Do you want to try and explain to them this system that we stuck them with? If we want to move away from this govern-monstrous mess, we must start somewhere and we should start now. The long term course of our government will be determined by the many little things done by individuals today. We can only start moving in new directions when the independent thinkers make the first move. If we are to set upon a different course, it will result from self thinkers like you voting libertarian.

A vote for either a democrat or a republican is a vote for the same things: larger government, more spending, more laws and higher taxes. Why waste your time trying to decide which one is “less bad”? Why waste your vote helping government gain more power by going down either of those paths? Vote for something good.

When we add it all up, it is the votes for democrats and republicans that are wasted. The libertarian vote is the only vote that really matters; it's the only vote that can bring real improvement.


Instant Runoff Voting

by Dave Ketchum

Most places do plurality voting, in which we can only approve of one candidate and can not say what to do if that candidate loses.

As was said on this topic on Feb. 21, this presents in intolerable dilemma for Libertarians and many others who see obvious problems with plurality and VERY MUCH want to do better. They want to approve of more than one candidate as better than the worst lemon, AND want to approve of one candidate as BEST.

Ranked choice voting allows voters to approve of multiple candidates AND rank those approved in the order they prefer.

Telling the major parties that ranked choice gives third parties a better chance can only encourage them to reject such a change while they have the power to do so.

Telling them that ranked choice keeps voting for minor candidates from disturbing the race between major candidates gives the idea a better chance:

While Libertarians and others remain minor, this lets their popularity get measured without disturbing the major races.

If and when some minor candidates become popular enough they can get elected as they deserve.

There are two major choices for counting ranked choice votes, while both use the same ballot and let the voter rank each candidate approved:

Instant Runoff Voting has VOCAL backers and looks first at each voters first choice, discarding candidates this counting identifies as losers - then recounting resulting first choices.

Condorcet counts more as in a tournament, seeing ALL that each voter offers in ranking. Usually both methods identify the same winners, but Condorcet backers note that, sometimes, IRV fails to see significant preferences.


Cause and Effect

by Mel Pinney

I tell people who don't want to waste their vote:  "If you keep voting the way you have been, you'll keep getting what you've gotten -- do you want that?"


Consequences of Lesser Evils

by Mat Sutor

I don't want to waste my vote. I am just going to vote for the lesser of two evils.

I think Hitler was the lesser of two evils.


Driving Over a Cliff

by Dan Edmonds

Conservative Caucus Chair Howard Phillips gave this answer....."if you go off a cliff at 80MPH you are dead, if you go off a cliff at 100 MPH you are dead.....wouldn't it make more sense to change direction?"


Shock Therapy

by Mark L.

I think you can counter the wasted vote argument anytime a voter is voting for someone who is very unlikely to win, ie I ask my wife why she would waste her vote on a Republican in Massachusetts, when she could be taking a position on principle. That at least leaves her speechless, though she is not likely to vote Libertarian as she feels it is much too radical. (ie legalize all drugs, shutdown publicly funded education). But at least my argument prevents her from claiming I'm wasting my vote.


No Matter How You Vote

by John Mills

I tell people:

Actually, this election will NOT matter in your life. No matter whether you vote D or R . . . or even L, I can tell you what will happen before the next election:

Your taxes will go up a little; not a huge amount, but some. Various new annoying regulations will go into effect; nothing dramatic, but some little things will become more difficult. The value of your home will go up about 8%.

The price of gasoline and a dinner out will go up a little; let's say, between 5% and 10%. Cars will cost more. Inner-city Schools will continue to have problems educating poor kids. There will be drive-by shootings by drug dealers and lots of drug busts in America. Some American military personnel will die overseas. Terrorists will kill people in the Middle East. Underage kids will drink beer. Most people you know will get modest raises at their jobs.

All of those things are absolutely going to happen. Regardless of whether you vote D or R or even L, all of those things will happen in the next few years.

Yes, even if you vote for a full slate of Libertarians, these things will happen over the next few years.

Don't you agree?

Those things will happen because to change things in America requires a majority in the legislature, and that means getting a majority of legislators winning a majority of legislative races all around the country or around your state.

The ONLY way to change things is to get hundreds of millions of votes for some alternative to the Ds and Rs who have run this country for 150 years. And, before anyone gets hundreds of millions of votes in America, you have to get millions. Before you get millions of votes and media attention, you have to get hundreds of thousands.

If you want to change things, but you wait until NEXT election to start, then you merely put off the day when change occurs.

You can wait around for someone ELSE to build an alternative to the Ds and Rs and hope someone ELSE does, or you can recognize that no matter who you vote for, things won't change much this year and you can start building an alternative yourself without fear your vote will seriously change anything in your life.

Politics matters a lot . . . over the long haul, but it won't matter at all who you vote for this year, because all the things I've predicted will come true no matter who wins.

Under such circumstances, it just makes sense to start right now building a long-term alternative to the Ds and Rs.


A Friendly Revision to Michael Cloud's Argument

by Bob Lidral

Your Wal-Mart / K-Mart example is a good one but has two problems. First, it's not clear to me how much of the public is even aware of the transfer of business from K-Mart to Wal-Mart or that there was any controversy involved; it didn't receive wide coverage in the mainstream media. Also, now that K-Mart has merged or something with Sears, its financial difficulties are no longer readily apparent. Second, the example involves the gun issue. While a valid issue, it is also an intense and polarizing one. Some people are so afraid of or opposed to guns that they will feel compelled to oppose anything that portrays them from a positive or even neutral viewpoint -- even if such opposition goes against their own self-interest in some other area. Such knee-jerk reactions preclude any rational consideration of any other part of the example.

A possible alternative example would be the automobile market. There was a significant change of market share from American-made cars to Japanese-made cars in the 1970s and 1980s. In those days, Japanese cars were a better value: better fit-and-finish, more convenience features (steering-column-mounted controls for brights/dims, etc.), sexier (tachometers, floor-mounted shifters rather than column-mounted, 4- and 5-speed transmissions instead of 3-speed, tighter suspensions), higher mpg ratings, lower long-term maintenance costs. Although at the beginning of that period, the primary advantage was price. In my personal experience, Japanese cars tended to start whereas US-made cars didn't, even when new (I used to travel a lot and rented a lot of relatively new cars during that period). I don't care how fancy a car is, if the engine won't start or stalls as soon as it's put into gear, then it won't go anywhere and fails my most fundamental criterion for being a car.

People started buying Japanese cars. Initially because they had affordable initial purchase prices and used less gas, then later because they were more reliable, less expensive to maintain, and had lower lifetime costs. Eventually Detroit followed suit and began improving their cars in the areas of most interest to paying consumers (prior to that, their idea of "innovation" seemed limited to increasing horsepower and changing body styles every year).

I believe this is an additional example that can be used to illustrate the point because it is widely known and the results are easily observable. It is also less controversial except, perhaps, to auto labor unions or in Detroit -- and many "Japanese" cars are at least assembled in the US today. The only downside is that market shares have pretty much stabilized for the last couple of decades so that younger audiences may not remember the transition (though they can certainly observe the results).


“Wasted Vote” Argument Out of Touch with Political Reality

by Tim Wallace

With due respect, Michael Cloud's "answer" to the "wasted vote" objection is as out of touch with political reality as was the "give 'em another chance" mentality prior to both American colonists' secession from British rule and the South's secession from Northern economic oppression.

What his "answer" overlooks is the fact that what persuades entrenched politicians is not just votes, but power and -- especially -- money. Popular votes are easily managed and manipulated where these two highly influential resources abound, and they are indeed in abundantly supplied to the hands of contemporary American politicians, especially at the state and national levels.

A vote (or several of them) may well influence politicians to "temper" their policies so as to give the appearance of appeasing the soured populace, but they will voluntarily not end the gravy train on which they ride at the American citizen's expense.

Ross Perot's influence is a prime example. The bipartisan monopoly became concerned about the deficit only as long as it took to get Perot out of the picture. Where is that concern now? It was short-lived and ultimately ineffectual.

Forces other than mere "votes" play a much more important role in politicians' decisions than fiscal responsibility or constitutionally lawful legislative action, and it will remain that way until the People make it abundantly and forcefully clear that they will no longer accept such corrupt and abusive practices.

Do I vote libertarian anyway? Yes! But on principle alone. I then cautiously welcome a the victorious lesser (or worse) of the "two evils" -- hoping that, while another season of socialism may awaken so many more Americans as to make a greater difference in the next election, ultimately, sufficient ire may be raised to "throw the bums out" in a more vivid and compelling fashion than can be illustrated by the mere counting of "votes".


The Case For Wasting Your Vote

by Joseph Knight [originally published September 2004]

In recent weeks as I've campaigned for Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, I've had numerous people explain to me why they could not vote for my candidate even though they liked him better than the others. So now I am compelled to attempt a case for voting your conscience instead of your fears.

The ideology Michael Badnarik represents the most freedom you can vote for in this election. But, I am told, he is too extreme. “Americans are moderates,” they say, “and want moderate candidates.” This supposedly explains why the authoritarian parties are abandoning their ideologies and looking for votes in the center. But is extremism really a bad thing?

Do you want your airline pilot to be extremely sober or moderately sober? Do you want your brain surgeon to be extremely competent or moderately competent? Do you want your spouse to be extremely faithful or moderately faithful?

I agree with former Republican senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater that in the defense of liberty, extremism is no vice and moderation is no virtue.

As Bush and Kerry struggle to emphasize their differences, I find their similarities more striking. To begin with, both like to spend like drunken sailors. Well, not quite, actually, as the sea-faring inebriates blow only their own wads while the Reptiles

and Demagogues have the bottomless pocket of the taxpayer to dip into.

Kerry wants to soak the rich, but doesn't mention that higher taxes on “the rich” are merely passed on to consumers as higher prices and diminished private sector activity. Bush pounds his chest as a tax cutter, but his puny, anemic tax cut merely passes the cost of his spending binges to future generations.

Then there is the Constitution. Those of us who have ever taken an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution cannot support either Bush or Kerry, as they have both engaged in a frontal assault on constitutional principles, including such abridgements as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and the Patriot Act. Such enactments are fine, unless you happen to believe in such things as free speech, due process, privacy, and free, fair, open elections.

The lesser of two evils

“Unfortunately, the major parties have a stranglehold on the political system,” they say. True enough. But continuing to vote for either of the big authoritarian parties will only perpetuate the stranglehold, while voting for “third” parties or independents will wear it down.

Many folks agree more with Badnarik philosophically, but buy into this “lesser of evils” thing. “Unless I vote for candidate A, candidate B will get in and he's even worse.” Remember the fable of the boiling frog. If you drop a frog into boiling water, it immediately hops out. But if you drop it into cold water and heat the water gradually, by the time it realizes it's being cooked, it's too late.

It's kind of like “good cop, bad cop.” The bad cop bullies and threatens you, then leaves the room. The good cop tells you that you seem like a nice guy, so if you work with him he'll keep the bad cop off your case.

You see, another term for the lesser of two evils is the incremental advance of evil. What you seem to gain in the short term, you merely lose in the long term.

Other practical considerations

The so-called conventional wisdom is that Libertarians “take” more votes from Republicans than they do from Democrats. We do attract disgruntled conservatives who still believe in fiscal frugality, the right to bear arms, free enterprise, and private property. But we also attract disgruntled liberals who still believe in civil liberties and peace.

Both groups feel abandoned by the new “moderate” major parties. But for the sake of argument, let's assume that a decent showing for Badnarik would throw the election to Kerry. What will happen? First, if the Republicans keep Congress, we will have more gridlock. Gridlock is a good thing. When the White House and Congress are in the same hands, the lack of gridlock costs you much more in lost freedom and money.

Second, the Republicans will come back in four years with a more libertarian candidate and platform in an effort to lure back those libertarian votes to keep it from happening again.

And in the meantime, the Libertarian Party stays on the ballot and stays credible as a reminder that enough is enough and authoritarianism will cost the major parties badly needed votes.

Beware the message you send

A vote is a message. A vote for Bush or Kerry is a message that you like what they're doing to you and you want them to keep doing it.

A vote for Badnarik is a message that you want their hand out of your pocket and their foot out of your door. Be careful what you vote for — you might get it!

Will my vote be wasted? It's true that when I wake up on November 3, Michael Badnarik will probably not be the president-elect. But I will sleep well on election night knowing that I sent the right message.


Wasted Vote?

by Mike Spinney

I've found it's often effective to simply answer that any vote cast for a candidate for any reason other than the conviction that the candidate is the best person for the job is a wasted vote.  'Nuff said.

But if you want a longer treatment!

The ridiculous assertion that I must be calculating and determine, using Machiavellian logic, which candidate has the best chance of winning and represents the lesser of two evils is a frightening prospect to me.  And when simpletons tell me I should vote Republican not because the Republican has the best plan for managing the public trust, but because of what will happen if the Democrat wins, I remind them that, under (now) nearly 16 years of Republican governorship in Massachusetts, state spending has increased by an average of $1 billion per year.  That Republicans in Washington DC have presided over the largest spending increases (and deficits) in history.

By the way, if "the lesser of two evils" is the best argument they have, it's time to evangelize for Small Government!

Democrat/Republican.  It doesn't matter.  Both have demonstrated an arrogant willingness to disregard fiscal responsibility and abuse the privilege of public office to barter for power with taxpayer money.  At the local, state, and federal level the waste and irresponsible stewardship of public funds has towns begging to the state, has states begging to the feds, and has the feds spending us into oblivion.  Meanwhile, every level looks to higher taxes to solve problems rather than taking responsibility for the fruits of their waste, greed, and corruption.

Disclosures this week that disgraced congressman Duke Cunningham abused his position by writing pork provisions into SECRET FEDERAL BUDGETS that are apparently immune to even Congressional scrutiny, nevermind public scrutiny, because of national security is an outrage, and not only should Cunningham go to prison for his crimes (he took bribes in exchange for adding line items), but so should those other individuals whose responsibility it was to vet those secret budgets to ensure no such shenanigans were taking place.

I could go on, but my blood pressure is rising too fast.

Wasting my vote?  Hardly.


Don't Waste Your Vote

by Lenny Rasch

I've voted in nearly every Federal election that has occurred since I attained 21, but I have usually wasted my vote. Most voters do the same as I did - waste their vote.

The Democrats and Republicans represent what economics professors call a duopoly. This is simply the two supplier version of a monopoly. Like its monopolistic counterpart, it does not occur "naturally', that is, the power of the two "suppliers" of political activity is maintained through Federal and state laws that create a barrier to competition (i.e., independent parties).

Members of both parties maintain their positions by "taking care of" their constituents. The constituents with whom they are concerned are the ones who are organized into powerful pressure groups. These groups, when they are pleased with the politicians' actions, work and spend to ensure their re-election.

"Taking care of" always translates to money. Both parties maintain their positions by spending other peoples money to meet the diverse goals of the pressure groups who, in their turn, help the politicians meet their goals of re-election. It's a very simple process, and it's supported by bigger government. Any reduction in government would reduce the ability of Democrats and Republicans to perpetuate their positions. For that reason, both parties operate from the same basic starting point – more government.

The major two parties consider themselves to be pragmatic. Their kind of pragmatism is similar to emptying someone else's bank account to buy frivolities at the mall for yourself. In the short run it appears to work for them, but it is grossly immoral and, in the long run, devastatingly impractical.

Each candidate of the two major parties will try to distinguish himself from the other in certain respects. Sometimes a Democrat or Republican will sound like he is calling for some specific reduction in government. Once elected, however, his actions follow the same "pragmatic" line, again and again.

For years I maintained hope that I would find a truly principled politician within the major parties. Two years ago, however, I finally conceded that I was wasting my votes and energies on this duopoly, and I became an active worker for the Libertarian Party.

The Libertarian Party does have a consistent, principled program. Libertarians do not seek government solutions, they do not seek to impose their will on others. They believe that there is a very specific and appropriate way to organize society, based on respect for each individual's rights. Look around you at the waste, damage and oppression that government has created, and you will see that the Libertarian "principled" approach is also the true practical, or pragmatic approach.

Voting for a Libertarian means that you have voted for the principles that you support. It means that your vote supports a person who has made a commitment to these principles. Voting for anything less than a consistent and principled individual would, indeed, be a waste of a vote. Support your Libertarian candidates in the forthcoming and subsequent elections.


Two Thoughts on Voting

by D. Eric Schansberg

Another angle: No one votes because they think their vote is likely to make a difference in the outcome. They vote out of a sense of duty or as a matter of principle. If you're voting as a duty, you have an additional duty to do the right thing. If you've voting on principle, then presumably your principles will inform your vote.

A cousin of the same argument: It is often said that Libertarian candidates "take" votes from major party candidates. But votes belong to citizens and are theirs to give as they see fit. In fact, because many people vote reflexively for major party candidates, any votes we get are completely earned. Finally, the major party candidates are fond of taking not just votes, but money and rights/liberties. We're not in the business of taking; they are.


The Vote Not Wasted

by Keith Kaiser

The response that I have developed is similar to the one in “Small Government News.” When asked why I waste my vote on a libertarian I always ask who they voted for and why. And of course the response is very often that they fear the "other guy" more than they like who they voted for. So I then ask if they voted "for" someone or against someone else. They voted against someone else. I then ask if they intentionally voted for someone they didn't want to win. The answer of course is yes, but they didn't want the other guy to win even more. So my response to the "wasted vote" argument is then applied. At this point I say.."Let me get this straight, you purposely voted for someone you didn't want to win, knowing there was a better candidate, and you consider that vote NOT wasted?"


The Value of Your Vote

by Mark Kimball

The argument that your vote is not wasted by voting Libertarian because it sends a message to the other parties is a good one. However, I like to vote Libertarian to let other people who might be of the same mind know that they are not alone, that there are others who feel the same way that they do.

And to anyone who thinks that the minority parties don't matter, I have two words for you: Ralph Nader.


Do Two Parties Own Your Vote?

by Corey Stern

If you keep voting for the "less of two evils," you still are getting "evil."

The politicians have become so accustomed to your tax dollars year after year that they also believe your vote belongs to them too. Politicians claim that you're "stealing" votes from Democrats or Republicans if you vote for an alternative party. How can someone actually steal your vote? Your vote belongs to you. No politician owns your vote. Your vote is one of the most critical decisions you make. Your decision belongs to you.

But truthfully, can alternative parties take away votes? In some cases they do compete. For example, the Green Party tends to pull from the Democrats in many elections because they consider themselves "liberal" or "progressive." Republicans might lose votes to the Constitution Party because they describe themselves as "ultra conservative."

The only exception is the Libertarian Party. Libertarians are neither conservative nor liberal. Libertarians believe in liberty on all the issues. They believe in personal freedoms/civil liberties and economic freedoms, whereas the Republicans want to control many social freedoms, and Democrats want to control many economic freedoms.

Libertarians take the best issues from the old parties. For example, Democrats and Libertarians may agree on free speech, civil liberties, war, personal choices and privacy. Republicans and Libertarians may agree on free trade, choice in education and cutting taxes. So it is clear Libertarians do not "steal" from either party.

Even then, Republicans vote for more spending, fewer choices. Democrats vote for more war, less privacy and fewer personal freedoms. It's difficult to decipher their differences in some elections. Their principle is power, re-election and special interests. Libertarians believe people should be our "special interest," and that power should not be in the hands of politicians, but rather, families, communities and individuals.

Are you satisfied with the status quo? Or do you want real change? What voters should ask is "am I wasting my vote on the old parties?" The answer is YES. If you keep voting for the "lesser of two evils," you still are getting "evil." Your vote encourages them to do more of the same. Don't encourage or endorse their behavior. In order to change the status quo, we can no longer vote the status quo.

So make a statement this election. Vote Libertarian.

Fortunately, in many cases, Libertarians are winning elections. In fact, there are more Libertarian Party members in office than all other third parties combined with more than 600 across America. Libertarians are making great progress getting elected, and finally representing you in states like Texas, Georgia, Oregon, California, Indiana and others. If there is an alternative party for freedom to compete on the same degree, it is the Libertarian Party.

In some cases, a Libertarian in the race means they will address issues typically not discussed in a two-sided debate. We select one Miss America from 52 women, and one American Idol from 24 contestants. We should at least have three or four options when selecting our representatives. Is this too much to ask?

Fortunately, Americans are waking up. According to a 2005 Gallup Poll survey, 20 percent of people call themselves libertarian and can see past the left versus right wing masquerade. We hope you can too! Vote Libertarian!


Mandate From the People Syndrome

by Jay Vandersloot

There is one question that is almost always asked of Libertarian candidates. The person asking the question states the belief that there is no chance the Libertarian candidate will be elected, and asks why they should “waste” their votes on an candidates they do not believe have any chance of being elected, when they can make their vote count by voting for one of the two major party candidates. Usually it is also stated that they are planning to cast their vote based on the “lesser of two evils” concept. Usually, the Libertarian answers that if you vote for the lesser of two evils, you are still left with evil. Both the voter's view and the Libertarian's reply ignore a very important element of what happens in elections—something that I refer to as the “Mandate From the People Syndrome.”

Even though voters cast their ballots based on which candidates they believe will be less harmful, the candidates who are elected do not know, and do not care, how many voters voted for them, and how many actually voted against their opponents. All they see is the percentage of the vote they received and say, “I have a MANDATE from the people.”

In effect, the voice of the person voting for the “lesser of two evils” is not heard. The elected candidate does not know that you are unhappy with his or her political positions. In actuality, the vote for the “lesser of two evils” is the TRUE wasted vote.

Instead of voting for the “lesser of two evils” the voter should vote for the candidate who has the principles and political views in which the voter believes. By doing so, even though that candidate may not be elected, the voice of the voter is heard, because the candidates who are elected see that they do not have the “mandate from the people” that they would otherwise have thought they had. They will see that part of their constituency is dissatisfied with their politics, and that they must change if they want to have any hope of gaining those votes in the future.

Our 40 th US President, Ronald Reagan (I know many Libertarians are not happy with his presidency, but the quote applies), is credited with having said , "I do not care who gets the credit for doing something, so long as it gets done." Well, I do not care what political party name the elected officials wears (for example, Ron Paul of Texas is elected as a Republican, but his votes in Congress are based on Libertarian principles), so long as they enact needed laws that are in compliance with the US Constitution and our rights therein delineated, and more importantly , get rid of laws that violate the US Constitution and are an affront to the us and our rights and diminish liberty.

In reality, though, we see over and over that we cannot depend on the Republican and Democratic party elected officials to do what is right and needs to be done, as we see that they both perpetuate Big government and continually pass laws that violate the US Constitution and our rights, and hinder the cause of liberty . If we are to advance the cause of liberty, we will have to do it ourselves, by getting Libertarians elected to office.

Therefore, we find that it is incumbent upon all of us to expose fallacy of the common wasted-vote syndrome beliefs by showing our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and anyone else with whom we come into contact that their vote for the Libertarian candidate is the only vote that really counts. Only by voting for the Libertarian candidate will their voice truly be heard by whoever is elected.


Vote For What You Believe In

by Melanie Melz

When you vote for what you believe in, your vote is NEVER wasted.



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