On voting for a minor party, or not voting at all

This conversation started in the Impeachment thread, and seemed like it was becoming a big digression, so I’m moving it here.

For those who didn’t read that thread and want the background, I described myself as far enough outside the tents of both parties as to be unwilling to vote for either of them. I plan to vote for the candidate of my very small party, the American Solidarity Party (essentially a European-style Christian Democratic party).

Some folks expressed the view that this choice is irresponsible in an election where Donald Trump (who I think is abominable) is on the ballot.

For the record, I would also support someone who chooses not to vote at all in 2020. See Alasdair MacIntyre again, who is no dummy when it comes to ethics. But voting for a minor party and not voting are not at all equivalent, for some of the reasons bullet-pointed below.

I admit I don’t understand the logic of “a vote and endorsement for the candidate who wins” (to use @triggercut’s formulation). When I go to vote, I don’t know who will win (except that it won’t be my candidate). It’s like saying I can endorse an outcome for Schroedinger’s cat. I accept the outcome, and therefore I do endorse the system, and recognize and respect in a basic way my fellow citizens’ opinions. My vote is not being made out of bitterness, stubbornness, or despair.

There are a variety of reasons that I think voting for a minor party is right for me, but I don’t want this thread to be about me, so I will post those separately.

Anyone else planning to vote for a minor party?

Anyone else have reasons that voting for a minor party or not voting at all is a good or bad idea?

Anyone else want to tell me I’m a fool, or a monster? I don’t mind!

My number one issue at this moment is getting Trump out of office. As long as people vote to enable that I’m happy.

Just in case somebody has not seen David Sedaris’ quote

“ I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it? To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

There are a variety of reasons I feel that voting for a minor party is the correct course of action for me:

  • I am voting to support principles I broadly feel are best for me and my fellow citizens.
  • I support my small party and want it to grow and gain influence and recognition so it can improve the discourse in the future.
  • I want the major parties to recognize me and those like me as constituents that aren’t on their side but could be, so that they will look for ways to massage their policies to appeal to us, and thus improve in ways I want them to. Voting for the lesser evil does not accomplish this; in fact it sends the opposite message.
  • I can afford to pursue these goals, abandoning direct influence on the two-party race, because I am in a small state that is relatively unlikely to influence the outcome of the election (Colorado). I might make a different choice if I were in a major battleground state, choosing instead to help ensure that Trump is not reelected.
  • My Catholic faith is clear that except in extreme circumstances, voting in such a way that might expand or validate the practice of grave evils like euthanasia, abortion, torture, or family separation is material cooperation with evil and therefore illicit. Again, if I were in a state where my vote was more pivotal, it could definitely be considered extreme enough circumstances to warrant voting for a pro-abortion Democrat to keep the utterly destructive Trump out of office, but it’s my judgment that that’s not currently the case for me. That calculus could change before the election itself.

So you’re doing this because you don’t think your vote really matters, and all those things above wouldn’t matter so much if it did actually matter?

This is an unusual position to take.

100% of the time when I vote, I don’t have the perfect candidate that hits all my check boxes. I’ve come to accept that is just the way it is. I can get close or sometimes I can get just not Trump… I’ll choose close or not Trump because that’s more important.

This is fine, but it only makes sense in a local level.

At the national level, a third party has really no purpose in our system. There is literally no chance they could win. Voting “for principles” doesn’t matter. Because one of the two major candidates will win.

The best way to support the principles you believe in, from a purely practical perspective, is to vote for the major candidate that most closely matches those principles.

Because to do otherwise is to potentially support the election of a candidate who will do so less in service to those principles.

(Reads the provided Alasdair MacIntyre link about the 2004 election.)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to follow Alasdair MacIntyre’s advice.

Wait, that came out wrong. I meant the only thing that was necessary for the triumph of evil was for good men to follow Alasdair MacIntyre’s advice.

Even if neither major party candidate meets all of your criteria, you clearly believe that one is better than the other. Thus, you are making the perfect the enemy of the good.

But let’s follow your reasoning to its natural conclusion.

  1. There is only one person who I am fully certain can encompass the entirety of my moral system. And that person is me.

  2. Even if I don’t win, the winner might “look for ways to massage their policies to appeal to me, and thus improve in ways I want them to”. Voting for a person other than myself does not necessarily accomplish this.

  3. Therefore, I am morally obligated to enter a write-in vote for myself, because anyone else would represent a compromise.

  4. By the same reasoning, I expect everyone else to also determine that the best vote is a write-in vote for themselves.

But if everyone does this, then democracy will inevitably fail.

So here is my challenge to you: Convince me to vote for someone other than myself.

I agree with @Nightgaunt

There are more forms of hepatitis than there are major parties in America. I’ll continue to vote for Mike Rowe or Justin Amash. Voting for the lesser of two evils (or the lesser lying) results ultimately in increased evil.

The current system and choices are what got us to this point, anyway. Too bad we can’t strip away the R/D beside the name.

That said, please disregard all that I said above, as I listen to the Reason podcast for pleasure, and once voted for Brian Schweitzer. (Commence stoning.)

Allow me to short-circuit the concern troll:

“Pro-life” is a bullshit “moral stance” to take, and it’s honestly embarrassing that you would choose to immiserate tens of thousands (at the outside) of actual humans to “protect” the “rights” of a few thousand potential humans.

Not to mention that you’ve tied your wagon so very tightly to the GOP, which is literally a bunch of evil assholes playing you (the plural, generic you) for a useful idiot while they loot the country.

Get serious.

There is no possible way anyone who is paying attention to what is going on today can with a good conscious still claim D and R are interchangeable. I mean… look around.

I have philosophical objections to not voting at all. Exercising rights is an important part of keeping them.

I think the question of minor vs major party votes is the wrong question, though. The real question is what issue(s) are most important to you. If “make sure the worst guy doesn’t win” is a key issue, then voting for a minor party is dumb since it gives that guy a better chance. (Yes, even in states that are supposed to be safe. Michigan had gone blue 6 elections in a row before the last one, and a lot of Democrats stayed home in 2016 or voted third party…doh.) If that’s not your key issue, what issues are? Pick the party that most fits that stance, then, and vote for them whether they’re major or minor.

I don’t disagree. I believe that, had the “R” been removed from beside ol’ Donnie, lots of cretins wouldn’t have cast their votes that way. Could be totally wrong.

You aren’t being asked to select a paragon of virtue. All candidates are humans, therefore they are all flawed.

By voting, you have an opportunity to try to improve an imperfect world. Even if you succeed, it will still be imperfect. The same is true of anything else you do in life. If that discourages you then you will never improve the world.

I think my vote is unlikely to be determinative in the contest between the two major parties. If I were a fanatic, I would say that I would only vote for the perfect candidate every time. I believe I have the responsibility to be more prudential than that.

I don’t think that’s true. Do I expect to see a sitting president from the American Solidarity Party? No. But there is such a thing as a political realignment, and I think there’s reason to think one is likely to happen in the next couple generations (subject for a different thread). When that happens and the Democrats and/or Republicans reconsider their core values (as the Democrats switched from the party of segregation to the party of civil rights in the 60s), if the American Solidarity Party and other sympathetic groups are a stronger and more readily identifiable constituency, one of them will likely make policy overtures to secure their support.

(And who knows, it’s not completely impossible that if the Solidarity Party is found to have a platform that very strongly addresses the worst problems in contemporary or future American Society, it might just become one of the big two! There were once Whigs, you know!)

I think all Americans are inculcated with a well-meaning but ultimately erroneous notion that not voting is a grave breach of civic duty. I think voting or not voting unconscientiously is the much graver one.

I just gave a whole list of reasons that my vote for a minor party is contingent on the particular electoral realities in my state and in the electoral college. I am planning to vote primarily on my principles because I think the results aren’t catastrophic to do so, and because I think it promotes the commonwealth of me and my fellow citizens. This is a prudential decision, not even remotely a matter of “I’ll only vote for the most perfect candidate.”

I’m willing to bet that Mr. MacIntyre voted. He voted on local offices and ballot measures and probably congressional representatives. He just didn’t vote for president. I don’t think that’s reneging on his duties (or failing to exercise his rights) one bit.

Before I attempt any substantive points, I’d just like to note the joy of a Solidarity Party that refuses to work with any of the existing major parties. :D

More practically, any ideas about “oh our Party will be an indie hit and will grow in recognition and importance” run immediately into the wall of “This is the last (even vaguely) free and fair election you will see in your lifetime if the Republicans keep the Presidency”. If you want your party to have a chance, the Republican Party first has to be destroyed simply in order to preserve democracy.

You mean if he ran as an Independent or Third Party since he had no chance as a Democrat.

That hate that he relies on, that he actually feeds, that 30%, they might’ve followed him. There might, might some some Republicans horrified enough to change their vote this time around that weren’t happy to give it the first time around but they sold themselves for a couple of Supreme seats, and the cost is what they and everyone else gets to live with… forever. He could’ve very well sold the same message and got the same group because he tells people what they want to hear and he’s willing to destroy everything this country is built on to feel powerful, for a minute, and make those who like his message feel like no matter what they have lessers they can look down upon.

Make no mistake. The Democrats are not some unified voice, some paramount of virtue everywhere. They’re simply a valid choice with more good points than bad at the moment and they still allow dissent, they can still argue, there is no homogeneous worship me or walk the plank. A vote for a Democratic candidate does not mean an agreement with everything that candidate says nor is it a requirement to voice that even if you don’t believe it. There is still room for disagreement as there should be, but everyone onboard, oh heck no.

Hell even before the election I was told there wasn’t room for me, on this very board on a D ticket and why is that exactly, oh right, because I still require that we pay for shit. I don’t trust the government to make all these decisions for me. And I believe a part that doesn’t have room for disagreement is not a party worth supporting.

But at the same time, it doesn’t seem like your extending that option, the thing you are saying you will do yourself, to the people in states where that choice might actually cost the election. You certainly are not the only person who has your views, but some of those other people, they don’t want to see the USA continue to fall and bring others down with us.

The Democrats at least leave room at the table for other parties. In Trump’s party, it’s his way or nothing. There is only one crown.

I’m happy to say that a big part of the party’s approach is finding common ground with other parties. It’s in their official motto! “Common Good, Common Ground, Common Sense”

If I believed this to be true AND that my vote had the chance of making a substantial difference in that outcome, I would absolutely vote for the Dem!

You and @Timex should argue this point. He seems to think the Republican and Democratic Parties can never be destroyed.

I mean, I think it’s a little foolish, but in the end, it’s not going to come down to your vote. You certainly don’t owe me or anyone an explanation. Vote for whoever you want.

It’ll only matter if you’re one of many like you, and if that’s the case then America is even dumber than I thought…and that is saying something.

Then I haven’t been clear enough. If I were in Ohio or Florida, I would likely vote for whichever Democratic candidate is up against Trump. If the vote here in Colorado got very close, I might do the same thing. I would expect like-minded citizens of those states to do the same thing.