Monday, November 06, 2006

Can you waste a vote?

After my earlier post today, there was a discussion about third party votes. Someone asked, "Why would anyone waste their vote on a candidate that can't win?" This was my reply:

"First of all, the founding fathers warned us of a two party system, fearing exactly what has happened. Though they tried to protect us from ourselves by setting up those famous checks and balances, the idiocy of people not performing their jobs through greed of power and money is something they couldn't legislate.

Second, your vote should be your opinion, your belief. To abdicate your choices simply because there's no chance of winning is how we got here, and is unfair to the system.

When things are this fucked up, it's a hard choice to feel like you're throwing your vote away; but a vote is worthy all on it's own, and does not need the justification of winning to be important. If more people had the courage of their convictions, and I'm talking now to the current Dems, John Coyners and Russ Feingold and their like excepted, we wouldn't be in this mess.

I too would vote in any possible way to get these liars and murderers out of office, but I greatly respect the choices we make when we vote, and would not discourage anyone from voting their conscience."

This is something I've wrestled with on and off for most of my adult life. Being who I am, off beat non-traditional candidates often appeal to me. Do I throw my vote away by following my heart, or vote the "sensible" way?

What has come to me over the years is that the vote itself has intrinsic value. The act of casting one's vote means you've made a commitment to the process; that you're participating, you're invested in your country and it's government. This is no small thing. To me, it's very similar to the situation our soldiers find themselves in now; their service alone, their commitment to country and to each other is noble and worthy of support and even awe, regardless of the legality or the ethics of the war in which they serve. Again, it's an act of participation in a greater structure of our society.

So no, I don't believe that you can throw your vote away. I do however, think that sometimes the "throw the bums out at all cost" is worth consideration.

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