In the last election, I challenged many conservatives and libertarians who said they planned to vote 3rd party.
Many claimed their decision was based on principle.
I contend that in our current election system, it is unprincipled to vote for a 3rd party candidate.
I would like to challenge any 3rd party voter to consider their position in light of the arguments presented here. I’ve challenged many 3rd party voters with similar questions before, nobody has been able to answer:.
1st Question: If you look for a job with a minimum pay of $100,000, but the only jobs you can find are a $15,000 job and a $60,000 job, which would you choose? Also, if you don’t choose, the decision will be left up to random chance, you will end up with one of these two jobs.
Do you choose:
A. $60,000 job
B. $15,000 job
C. Let random chance decide.
$100,000 represents the choosers ideal candidate that can’t win. The $60,000 job represents Trump as he is more conservative and libertarian than Hillary. Hillary represents the $15,000 job. She should probably represent a negative number, but the point is Trump is a better option than Hillary.
Answer: Obviously choose the $60,000 job.
Principle the analogy demonstrates: Always choose the best option available.
2nd Question. “But I don’t want to choose the lesser of two evils.”
You don’t have a choice. Someone will be president.
You can choose not to vote. Someone will still be president.
You can choose to vote 3rd party. But that person won’t win.
Hillary or Trump were the only possibilities. Therefore choose the best one.
The saying “Don’t choose the lesser of two evils” only applies if a person has more than 2 viable options. Or when one of the outcomes can be neither. Neither of those criteria apply to elections.
No candidate will ever be perfect. Therefore every election is the choice between the lesser of two evils.
Principle. Choose the least bad option.
3rd question: For anyone who voted 3rd party because of what they say is principle, why did you not vote for any of these people?
A. Abraham Lincoln
C. Ronald Reagan
D. Ayn Rand
E Ron Paul
Likely you would consider at least one of these options a better person for the job than Trump or Hillary. So why didn’t anyone vote for these people?
Answer: Because they know not to vote for someone who has no possibility of becoming president.
Principle: electability is a pre-requisite. Voting for someone who is not electable is a waste.
4th question: If the election came out to be a tie and the deciding factor was your vote, would you:
A. Vote for Trump giving him the victory.
B. Vote 3rd party allowing Hillary to win.
This question shines the light on what’s at stake in an election and the accountability of the voter.
Principle: Be a good steward, regardless whether your influence is little or much.
5th question: If you have the choice between someone shooting your son with a real gun or shooting your son with a paint ball gun, what do you choose?
Do you ask “what color paintball” or “from what distance will he be shot with a paintball?”
Of course you choose the paintball. The details about the paintball gun don’t matter, those are irrelevant questions in the context of the 2 choices presented.
Same way focusing on perceived faults of Trump is irrelevant. The election was not Trump vs Perfection. The choice is Trump vs Hillary.
It’s a waste of time to agonize over the imperfections of one choice when the alternative choice is worse.
Principle: No matter how good or bad a choice is, the only thing that matters is what choice is best.
6th question: I’ve heard this rebuttal “The only reason 3rd party candidates cannot win is because not enough people think they can win. The mentality is the problem, not the voting.”
That’s not really true. Sometimes candidates just aren’t popular. People had many reasons other than electability to dislike Gary Johnson.
Winning as a 3rd party candidate is very difficult. But if someone has a chance the polling will reflect that.
But if it’s not happening, it’s not happening.
Principle: Be realistic. Idealism can sabotage the best realistic option.
7th question: “vote for the best person regardless of electability.”
Can you imagine if there was no Republican party, but instead a Democrat party vs Libertarian party?
“That would be great!”
Not if libertarians still disregarded electability. If libertarians voted for who they liked best every time, they would never win any elections. There would be votes for Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Gary Johnson and whoever else was a popular libertarian at the time. It would split the vote and sabotage whatever libertarian won the nomination.
“But we wouldn’t do that, we’d vote for the nominee.”
Interesting. So you would vote based on electability? How come many libertarians didn’t do that towards Trump in the last election? He was clearly the more libertarian candidate.
Because libertarians weren’t being consistent in their principles. Sometimes they value electibility, sometimes they say it doesn’t matter.
How many libertarians would prefer Ron Paul over Gary Johnson? Likely most of them. How many wrote in Ron Paul on the ballet? Very few. Why? Because they know Ron Paul is not electable. But they didn’t know Gary Johnson was not electable?
Principle: Be consistent in your voting principles.
8th question: “But I am consistent, that’s why I won’t compromise my principles by voting for candidate X.”
Voting for someone is not saying “I now agree with everything this candidate says.”
Being true to your principles is acting in a way that advances your principles best. Which may not mean voting for the person who you most align with.
I know it’s counter-intuitive, but even though Ron Paul is the most libertarian public figure I know, voting for him in the last election was a betrayal of libertarianism. Because it was a wasted vote. It was the same as a 1/2 vote for Hillary who would likely take the country away from libertarianism. In that way it betrayed libertarian principles.
That’s a concept people like Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse didn’t get. As he was a person who held out from supporting Trump and voted 3rd party. His actions made it more likely that his conservatism wouldn’t be advanced. Not smart.
I’m not saying that voting for the candidate one aligns with is ALWAYS damaging to your principles. Of course not. What makes a vote supportive or destructive to ones principles is the context. Voting for Ron Paul in the 2012 Republican primary election? That supported libertarianism. Because he had a chance.
Voting for someone who represents your principles is only principled in the context of that candidate having a chance to win and advance your principles.
Principles are about morality. If you act in a way that hurts the advancement of your principles, you are advancing immorality. Even if you voted for the person who represents your principles the best.
Principle: Being true to your principles is acting in a way that advances your principles the best. That action will vary depending on context.
9th question: There is a cop who says he cares about stopping crime. But for 4 years straight he fails to stop any crime when all he needed to do was check a box and he could have stopped at least some crime.
By his actions, does this cop show he cares about stopping crime?
This is like 3rd party voters. They claim to care about abortion, high taxes, illegal immigration ect, but when it’s time to stop Hillary who would make those situations worse? They do nothing.
Principle: Stop the most evil you can. Especially when it costs you nothing.
Let’s review the 9 principles:
- Choose the best viable option available.
- Every choice is imperfect. Choose the least imperfect choice.
- Don’t be wasteful. Don’t vote for someone who can’t win.
- Be a good steward of your vote.
- Don’t measure choices against perfection, measure them against other viable choices.
- Be realistic about your options.
- Be consistent in your voting principles.
- Be flexible. Act in the way that advances your principles the best. That action will vary based on context.
- Stop the most evil you can with your vote.
All of these principles are violated when someone votes for a 3rd party candidate that can’t win.
That doesn’t mean a 3rd party candidate isn’t the best person for the job. It doesn’t mean your ideas aren’t better than the 2 viable candidates.
It means you’re being pragmatic. Strategic. Responsible. And acting in a way that most supports your conservative and libertarian principles.
Go ahead and support Gary Johnson or someone else during the election process if you think they are best. But when they are polling at 3% days before the election? It’s a waste to vote for them and one should resort to good principles like the ones here to guide their voting decisions.