|Aaron aka Itchy|
Voting for a third party is a symbolic act. It says that you believe in the system, just not the candidates. It is like choosing RC Cola over Coke and Pepsi.
Boycotting the vote is also a symbolic act. It says that you find the system to be invalid. It is like choosing not to drink soda at all.
Either way, you're almost guaranteed to have almost zero intended effect on the outcome of the election. There is just too many things stacking the deck in favor of the two candidates.
The point isn't that the deck is stacked in the major parties' favor, and thus your vote won't matter. It's that you effectively are stripping a vote from one of the two candidates that stands a chance of being elected, making the actual outcome of the election worse for yourself than if you had just voted for a major party in the first place.
I respectfully agree and disagree with you, Scott. I agree that you are effectively stripping a vote from one of the two candidates that stands a chance of getting elected. Absolutely true.
I disagree that it makes the outcome worse for yourself. I do not believe that either of the major candidates has my best interest at heart. Since things will be just as bad for me regardless of who gets elected, the outcome for myself is the same; neither better nor worse.
I have voted for Ralph Nader in the last three elections, and while I could pull the lever with a clear conscience, I also figured out that it had about as much effect on things as flushing my toilet.
People with that mindset are, collectively, responsible for the country electing Bush over Gore in 2000. I'm not sure why you think that situations like voting for Nader have no effect. The people who voted for Nader ended up responsible for eight years of President George W. Bush. You, or those like you, if you didn't reside in Florida, could have prevented that, but chose not to because they either a) thought their "symbolic action" was more important than the reality of electing a President, or b) didn't bother to think about the consequences of pulling the lever, and decided to reassure themselves that they have a clear conscience anyway.
Every person who voted in the 2000 and 2004 elections are collectively responsible for the country electing George W. Bush. Everyone who votes in the election is exercising their political muscle and at the end of election day, somebody wins the presidency. We all share the responsibility for that decision.
I think that symbolic actions are tremendously important. Symbolic actions are all that we have. Due to the electoral college, all US voting is symbolic. Likewise, a clear conscience is tremendously important. If you don’t listen to your conscience, what DO you listen to?
When I voted for a third party in the last election, my vote said “I disagree with what the Republicans are doing and with what the Democrats are doing. I will not support them, so I will vote against them.” The candidate I voted for did not get elected. The two major parties got the message: “There are people out there who don’t support you.” Also, the people who voted for Nader didn’t vote for George W. Bush. They voted for Ralph Nader.
This November, I will not vote for Barak Obama or for Mitt Romney. I will instead vote for someone else. Will they win the presidency? Unlikely. Will I still be able to say, with a clear conscience, “I didn’t vote for him,” when the president and congress passes more invasive legislation? Yes. Will I still be responsible for the results of the election? Yes, along with everyone else who voted in the election.