On voting for third parties

Back in November Kurt Eichenwald wrote a piece for Newsweek titled "The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them The Presidential Election." It makes for interesting reading, but what particularly struck me was the opening:

On Friday, I almost assaulted a fan of my work. I was in the Philadelphia International Airport, and a man who recognized me from one of my appearances on a television news show approached. He thanked me for the investigative reporting I had done about Donald Trump before the election, expressed his outrage that the Republican nominee had won and then told me quite gruffly, “Get back to work.”

Something about his arrogance struck me, so I asked, “Who did you vote for?”He replied, “Well, Stein, but—” I interrupted him and said, “You’re lucky it’s illegal for me to punch you in the face.” Then, after telling him to have sex with himself -- but with a much cruder term -- I turned and walked away.

A certain kind of liberal makes me sick. These people traffic in false equivalencies, always pretending that both nominees are the same, justifying their apathy and not voting or preening about their narcissistic purity as they cast their ballot for a person they know cannot win. I have no problem with anyone who voted for Trump, because they wanted a Trump presidency. I have an enormous problem with anyone who voted for Trump or Stein or Johnson—or who didn’t vote at all—and who now expresses horror about the outcome of this election. If you don’t like the consequences of your own actions, shut the hell up.

Eichenwald comes across as a bit of a jerk here, but I can sort of sympathize with him. I've voted for third-party candidates myself on occasion, but not in decades in any election when I knew there's was a chance of that affecting the outcome.

Here's Louis C.K. on the same general subject. The part I'm talking about starts 4 minutes and 45 seconds into the clip, but the preamble about his opinion of Trump is reasonably amusing:


Link: https://youtu.be/XNxG2PBVMlI

His point, which I agree with, is that the grown-up way to vote (or even not vote) is taking into account the possible real-world consequences rather than viewing voting only as a means of self-expression.

Yes, this very often means voting for the lesser of two evils, and yes, if you vote for the lesser of two evils you're still voting for evil. Big shock. If you don't vote for the lesser of two evils you're increasing the likelihood of electing the greater evil, especially in first-past-the-post voting systems. I understand the appeal of voting for your first choice (even if I question the judgment of people who picked Stein as a first choice), but attempts to offer a rational as opposed to emotional defense of it rarely succeed. No new party has been established in the U.S. since before 1860, and then only because sectional divisions tore apart the Whigs. Voting for third parties isn't going to make better major-party candidates appear. You can find plenty of people arguing the opposite on line, but I've never read such an argument that didn't amount to wishful thinking.

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On voting for third parties — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Brian Keith Dalton on the notion that Hillary is as bad as Trump | D Gary Grady

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