Carole-Anne Morris: The Absurdity of the Wasted-Vote Mentality

The “wasted vote mentality,” or “WVM” for short, is a term of art that I have had the displeasure using lately in order to describe the hostile attitude of many voters toward third-parties. The WVM is a blanket idea that encompasses a very stupid argument: that by voting for a third-party candidate, the voter is ensuring that [insert one of the two main candidates’ name – whichever candidate the WVMer does not support] will win the election, and that therefore, a vote for a third-party candidate is a wasted vote.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that a vote for a third-party candidate really is a vote for one of the two main candidates. In order for this to be true, it must be that the third-party vote, once cast, is magically converted into a vote for someone else.

Obviously, that doesn’t happen.

But in the WVMer’s mind, third-parties are not real political parties, because to the WVMer, there is only Democrat or Republican. By extension, voters who identify with a third-party do not really identify with that party; the third-party voter is simply a Republican or a Democrat who is suffering from some sort of political identity crisis.

Some WVMers will disagree with the above by arguing that third-parties like Libertarianism draw more former Republicans than Democrats, thus ensuring a Democratic victory, and some will argue the opposite. As a result, a voter that would otherwise have voted either Republican or Democrat is now voting for the Libertarian candidate, and such a vote is a “wasted vote” because a Libertarian “can not win.”

But, a Libertarian candidate (or any other third-party candidate) could win the presidency, if that candidate had enough support. Period. And support for third-parties in this country is growing.

The bottom line is that WVMers’ refusal to accept that third-parties are real alternatives to the destructive two-party system is a direct result of the propaganda of the two-party system itself. Both the Democratic and Republican machines have a vested interest in the WVM, because the WVM cements their stranglehold on American politics.

In spite of the fact that Republican big-wigs say that Hillary Clinton would be a dangerous president, and that Democratic big-wigs say that Donald Trump would be a dangerous president, I would be willing to bet that those Republican big-wigs and Democratic big-wigs would much rather have a Clinton or a Trump presidency, respectively, than to have a third-party win the White House. Why? Because each proclaims that it is the antithesis of the other. Because if Clinton wins the presidency, Republicans can ramp up anti-Democrat rhetoric and point the finger of blame at Democrats, then proclaim that only a Republican presidency can fix all of the country’s problems. Because if Trump wins the presidency, Democrats can ramp up anti-Republican rhetoric and point the finger of blame at Republicans, then proclaim that only a Democratic president can fix all of the country’s problems. And thus, the cycle continues.

It continues, unless the WVM can be exposed for the fallacy that it is.
It continues, unless voters demand more political options than simply Red or Blue; Elephant or Ass.
It continues, unless individuals realize that the complex problems facing our country can not be answered by one side or the other of the same proverbial coin.

Carole-Anne can be reached for further comment via email

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