OT - Gas to hit 4.00 - Vote for Ron Paul - dropping out?

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Thu Jun 19 14:30:21 MDT 2008

Nicholas Leippe <nick at leippe.com> writes:

> Eying only the next cycle is, IMO, too short-sighted. Thus my
> opinion that it is best to always vote for who you actually would
> rather have in office, and to _never_ cast a vote for someone that
> you'd prefer not to be in office, regardless if he is one of the
> only two most likely to win this time. If it's going to be bad
> either way, show that you don't agree with either by voting
> differently. If everyone did this, then momentum would build towards
> change.  Doing otherwise only reinforces the status-quo.

I agree that voting for 3rd parties can lead to the major parties
adopting some of the 3rd party policies, or even absorbing the 3rd
party altogether.  Lots of historical precedent for that.  However,
there's no historical precedent for any third party coming anywhere
close to winning an election.  The two major parties have changed, on
occasions when other factors destabilized a party, but that had
nothing to do with previous election cycles.

So, voting for 3rd parties can lend support to an issue you care
deeply about that happens to be espoused by that party, but there is
little evidence to suggest that it will ever lead to that actual party
winning an election.  I concede that it may be possible in the future
for a 3rd party to win, but something very out-of-the-ordinary would
have to happen, and I don't think it would have anything to do with
less strategic voting.

This gives you a choice: Use your vote to help pick the winning
candidate, or use your vote to support the 3rd party issue.  Either
might make sense, depending on your situation, so I disagree with your
'_never_ cast a vote' sentiment.

> I see the point--that given the outcome will be one of A or B, and
> even though you prefer the impossible outcome of C, if you do have a
> preference between A and B, then vote towards your preference
> between the two. But the trade off is thus: how strong is your
> preference between A and B, compared to your preference between A
> and C and between B and C?  Would you rather start making progress
> towards making C a real possibility in the future, or would you
> rather put zero effort towards helping C from ever happening at all
> and continue to merely apply your influence to choose between A and
> B in the near-term? If you really want C, even if you can't have it
> now, IMO putting _any_ support at all behind A or B is working
> _against_ C in the long term.  Why would I want to do that?

History shows that 'C' doesn't stick around for very long regardless
of how well they do.  3rd parties are generally pushing a particular
issue, and the issues vary as time passes.  A strong 3rd party showing
in an election has never been repeated.  

>From http://www.thisnation.com/question/042.html : 

In 1856, Millard Fillmore won 21.5% of the popular vote on the
Whig-American platform.  By next election, the party was dissolved.
In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt (after having served as President as a
Republican) won 27.5% of the vote (highest percentage on record for a
3rd party) as a Progressive.  He pulled so many Republican votes that
the Democrat candidate won.  Oops.  By next election, he was back in
the Republican party.  In recent history, Ross Perot pulled 18.9% of
the popular vote (but no electoral votes) for the Reform Party.  His
next attempt pulled only 8.4%, and then he gave up.

So, if you're aligned with a 3rd party on a specific issue, and if
you're either not in a state where your vote for a major candidate
will make a difference or you have no strong preference between major
candidates, by all means vote for the 3rd party.  It may help
influence a major party to adopt your issue.

If you simply want your favorite 3rd party to gain prominence and
someday win an election, I'm afraid you're mostly likely going to have
to keep dreaming.  We're just not set up that way, unless a major
shake-up happens.  And in that case, it will be one of the *new* two
major parties, and will soon look just like the old ones.


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