One Less Myth

Voting 3rd Party

I'm going to vote 3rd party!
That's a great idea if the candidate has a viable shot at getting elected!
Even if they don't, it's still better than voting for the lesser of two evils
Let's assume this is about the presidential election, since that's usually where this comes up
So if a candidate doesn't have a real shot at winning, voting 3rd party can cause real harm
And has several times.
Let's say you lean to the left. If you vote for a 3rd party left candidate, that only takes votes away from the mainstream left candidate
This significantly increases the chance that a right-leaning candidate will win without a majority.
We'd have less polarization if we had more than two parties!
This warrants a conversation all on it's own!
Well maybe it will take losing an election, but voting 3rd party shifts the parties in the long term
This is a common misconception that 3rd party candidates push. It is not backed up by the data.
Parties shift with public sentiment, and along with their candidates, craft platforms that they believe appeal to a majority of voters
The vote that shifts parties the most is in the primaries
This is where we vote our ideals, and tell the party that people like us exist
Both parties look very closely at the breakdown of votes in the primaries, and try to find common ground with as many voting blocks as possible
I just can't vote for that politician. Look at their record/history!
This also warrants it's own conversation!
The parties are corrupt
They are no angels to be sure. But they aren't these all-powerful cabals that control democracy
That seems to be a popular canard these days perpetuated by voting blocks whose candidates didn't win
They are groups that coordinate messaging and resources for candidates who share a common platform. When we want progress, we pressure elected politicians, not the parties themselves.
My state isn't a swing state, so it won't hurt to vote 3rd party
If enough people think this, your state could become competitive/at risk
If enough people don't think this way, logging a vote in opposition won't send any message to the parties.
The primaries are rigged
This is a serious accusation, and should be based in facts, not on a few social media posts combined with a frustration that our candidate didn't win
Claims of rigging have not been borne out by reality. Nor do political biases automatically equal rigging
Votes still decide the primaries, not the biases of career politicos. (Example: Bernie Sanders and the DNC) Additionally primaries have been improving in transparency and as issues are found, they are getting resolved
Things are just so bad, maybe it's time to burn it down. Viva la revolution!
Revolution sounds radical, and feels like a stronger commitment to change than radical reform. But revolutions don't guarantee progress. Especially if there isn't a majority backing that revolution.
Until the harm done by tearing down a society is less than the harm created by reforming a broken system, revolution cannot be justified. The risk must outweigh the cost
It's just that things have been broken for so long, and nothing is getting fixed!
Things are not where they need to be, and we're moving far slower than we should to fix things. But progress is happening. I cannot think of a demographic that is fundamentally worse off today than they were 60 years ago.
While it is frustrating, it's important to realize that change has to happen at all levels. Especially on the federal and state levels, those changes should be implemented cautiously and methodically, which takes time
Getting things wrong at those levels can cause immense harm, even if well intended.
I have to vote my conscience
Our conscience needs to encompass more than our own purity tests
Knowing that we can vote to reduce harm for millions of people, and not doing so should weigh heavily on our conscience
But this third party aligns well with my beliefs!
Viable 3rd parties do not start by running for president
They have to demonstrate in the real world that their ideas are workable, and that there is broad support for them. That means that any party has to start at the local level, and work their way up
Starting with the presidency is a vanity project
Voting feels so insignificant, and voting 3rd party feels less impotent
This might be the real impetus behind most 3rd party voters, and it's understandable!
Democracy/Politics/Public Policy is frustrating, and complicated. It takes time to understand, and a lot of time and energy to make change happen.
Voting is important because for all of the corruption we see, it still gives us a voice. At minimum it prevents things from getting massively worse
We should never see voting in presidential elections as our only civic duty
Then how do we effect change, other than voting?
To see change, we have to be involved at every level we can be, both in government and outside of it
We have to be dedicated to advocating for, and working towards change, no matter how long it takes.
That includes protests, volunteering, studying public policy and political theories so that we can educate others, donating to nonprofits if we can, showing up for city council meetings, legislative days, town halls, etc.
Each of us doing what we can, when we can
That is the most effective way of effecting change in our current system.