Being an advocate of Third Party Voting, I am no stranger to my fair share of criticism toward my voting strategy. In fact, in this chaotic world, it’s the only constant I can count on. I think it was Ben Franklin who said “Nothing is certain except for death and internet trolls”… or something like that. Post your own personal views on voting and you’re bound to take some flak from angry partisan militants, who think their candidate is the second coming of the Lord. When the election starts ramping up, everyone has an opinion on who and how you should vote. Whether you participate in every election top down, or never voted in your life, you’ve probably at least given some thought to your own personal strategy, but it can be very confusing. It’s a tough question and involves a lot of reflection and decision making.
Should I toe the party line? Do I vote based on policy or personality? Am I informed enough? Is a vote for a third party a waste? Does any of this even matter? Should I even vote at all? These are all valid questions, and, unfortunately, I have no answer. I’m no more qualified to tell you how to vote, then anyone is to tell me how to vote. It’s a deeply personal and private decision. Yet, there’s always an obnoxious minority that feel it’s their duty to explain to you exactly how much of an idiot you are. That’s not fair. The loud mouths of this nation see it fit to have little policing on their own lifestyle, but seem to want to police your most intimate and important right as an American.
So what is the right to vote? Although it seems like a simple concept; its not. The right to vote doesn’t just preserve your ability to go to the polling place and pull a lever. It econompasses an entire philosophy on the liberty of choosing how you wish to express your voice. For example, your right to vote is also your right to not vote. For some people, the system is so corrupt and unfair that it’s not even worth it for them to participate. In any given presidential election, voter turnout hovers around 60%. Whether you agree or don’t, 40% of the electorate consistently not showing up to vote for the most important office in the nation sends a clear and significant message. Who are any of us to say that the message isn’t worth hearing?
The right to vote also encompasses your right to choose what message you want your vote to say. Like I said before, if you vote third party, you will likely hear a lot about how you’ve “wasted your vote”. It’s almost as if the people saying this honestly believe that you don’t understand that the odds are stacked against your candidate. In reality, you’ve willingly accepted the risk of voting for an unlikely candidate; because, losing an election is more digestible than voting for some that doesn’t represent your values and morals. This is a perfectly acceptable decision. If a choice is detrimental to the standard to which you hold yourself; you become morally obliged to not make that choice.
Voting is a complicated issue, plain and simple. Many political “experts” spend the entirety of their lives trying to come to the absolute correct answer to that question, and none have ever succeeded. If the most educated people in the world aren’t able to tell you how to cast your vote, why would your neighbor Greg, who manages an Enterprise Rent-A-Car, be qualified to criticize your decision? The truth is, the correct strategy for voting is the strategy you choose. It’s the decision that you feel in your gut and in your soul. It’s as emotional as it is rational. Maybe someone says everything you want them to say, but you just can’t bring yourself to check that box. That’s okay! You are an adult and an American. You have the right to make whatever decision is best for you, an anyone who tells you different is undermining the values on which our country was founded.
Michael A. Romano