So what about the vacuous argument that not voting for a particular candidate helps his/her opponent?
My GOP friends assure me that a vote for a 3rd party candidate is essentially a vote for Clinton. Yet, according to my Democrat friends, it is actually a vote for Trump. This is nonsense, of course, and for a number of reasons.
First, how could a vote for a third candidate also count as a vote for each of two other candidates at the same time? How amazing that a vote that those same friends would claim is equivalent to “throwing my vote away” could be so powerful!
Second, not voting for either of the top two presidential candidates is technically half a vote against Trump and half a vote against Hillary.
Imagine, for example, that exactly one hundred sixty million Americans have voted for Trump, and exactly one hundred sixty million have voted for Hillary … a dead heat tie. I am the deciding vote in the 2016 election. Now, what if I decide I can do better than vote for either and I write-in Mickey Mouse instead.
Question: Who did I just win the election for, Hillary or Trump?
Answer: Neither. Essentially, my vote didn’t count at all. In order for my vote to be a vote for either candidate I must actually vote for him or her.
Third, some might respond that while I may not actually be physically voting for the other candidate, I am still helping that same candidate nonetheless. Sorry, but that’s just not how it works. In simplest terms, Trump or Clinton needs more votes than the other in order to win, right? I will readily acknowledge that voting for a 3rd party candidate means one less vote Hillary could have gotten … but it also means one less potential vote for Trump as well.
Finally, what frustrates me the most when someone says that I can’t vote for the candidate I happen to think best represents my values, simply because it would mean not helping their preferred candidate win against an opponent … well, it really says more about their opinion of my character and judgement than anything else.
They completely dismiss any reasons I may have for not voting for their candidate. The only thing that matters is that their candidate (a candidate I don’t even believe in) wins, not that I stay true to my convictions and values. How truly sanctimonious of them!
It only gets worse if you have historically voted for a single party’s candidate over the past few elections. These same people believe that you signed some kind of “blood pact” when you first voted for one of that party’s candidates, apparently swearing eternal allegiance to any nominee that party may bring forward in the future. But the truth is, you don’t owe anyone your vote. Not a candidate, or a party, or a voting caucus, or a movement.
So, no… neither Donald or Hillary are automatically entitled to your vote. They have to earn it just like any other candidate. Now if you want them to have it because you actually like their positions, character, and temperament then fine. But if you really don’t like them and can’t really stomach the idea of supporting either of them, then feel free to give it to someone you actually believe will make a better candidate.
And whenever someone tells you that you’re throwing your vote away (or worse, voting for their opponent) just remind them that this isn’t how voting works, and you owe their preferred candidate absolutely nothing.