Monday, November 01, 2004

Third Party Voting

From a WorldNetDaily article:

A vote for Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party, or for the Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik – regardless of whatever personal virtues they possess, or those of their party's platform – amounts to a vote for Kerry. After all the high-sounding words have been spoken in justification of voting for either one, this is the undeniable fact that remains. It's the most basic mathematics possible, so I won't insult anyone by explaining it.

Yes, the most basic mathematics possible through the looking glass. Whatever happened to 1 unit = 1 unit, as in "A vote for Peroutka is equal to a vote for Peroutka"? But under this new mathematics third party voters get the privilege of voting multiple times: a vote for (say) Cobb is a vote for Kerry (say the Republicans) and a vote for Bush (say the Democrats), and is (I hope) also a vote for Cobb. So apparently all third party voters vote three times. But if the Cobb voter is voting for both Bush and Kerry, the two cancel out, leaving just the Cobb vote. So a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for that third party candidate; in case you needed an argument for it. There's no point in trying intimidation tactics; if Bush or Kerry want the votes of third-party-inclined voters, they should earn them.

I am always very disturbed by this constant tendency to measure votes by how much power they give you over other people's destiny - as if the only power of a vote were your power to outvote everyone else. But this is simply false. Voting is not - should not be - a struggle to overrule people who disagree with you; it is a contribution to the governance of one's society by having in one's possession something that must be earned. This is the power of vote, that the politicians must earn our votes. If a candidate wants your vote, that candidate has to earn it; and what is more, you are the absolute and sole authority on whether that candidate actually has earned it. You establish the standard. And if they did not earn it, you don't have to give it to them. If you think that under the circumstances Kerry earns your vote simply by not being Bush and having a lot of voters with him, and decide to give it to him on that basis, that's your right. If you think that under the circumstances neither Kerry nor Bush have earned it but a third-party candidate has, and decide to give your vote on that basis, that's your right. If you think none of them have earned it, and decide not to give it to any of them, that's your right. And so on through all the possible scenarios. The power of your vote, which you alone can exercise, is that it is something to be earned according to the standards you deem fit. Nothing more, nothing less.

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