No such thing as ‘stupid vote’

The Southerner

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By James Bryan

In the 2016 presidential election, it is safe to say that many Americans view the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the choice between “the lesser of two evils.”  For the most part, this is true.  This year’s edition of the race for the White House has been a total bloodbath. Almost every candidate, especially the two on the November ballot, have been bashed by both opposing parties and their own, causing party divides to grow exponentially as the field has been narrowed.  Although voter turnout in November is crucial to the outcome of this election, in particular, not voting at all is different than voting for the two main candidates.

The Libertarian candidate for President, Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, and his running mate, Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, have barely been mentioned in this year’s news cycle.  An August 11 Reuters poll indicates Johnson has 7 percent of the potential vote in the November election, while Clinton is at 40 percent and Trump is at 35 percent.   Johnson ran for governor and won as a Republican, but he is now the cliché Libertarian, strongly opposing big government.  He is pro-choice when it comes to abortion, believes the government shouldn’t meddle in marriage rights, supports abolishing the IRS, and wants to cut Obamacare by 43 percent.

Johnson isn’t “mostly Republican” or “mostly Democrat.” He is his own candidate, and should not be automatically discarded because he is not a Democrat or a Republican.  The same goes for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Although she aligns more closely with Democrats rather than Republicans on most issues, people should not ignore her or Johnson.

Although you might heavily disagree with someone on whom they support, you cannot take away their voting rights because of it.  A major problem in today’s world is that many people look at politics through damaged lenses because they automatically favor one candidate over another because of the candidate’s political party.  Sometimes that can be okay, but politics is a shady business, and not enough people look much into the candidate they support because they have already made up their minds.  This snap decision based on two simple words, Democrat and Republican, dictates American politics.

Even though third party candidates have historically never been able to truly challenge for the Presidency, voting outside of the two major parties is not a waste, but it is simply someone exercising their Constitutional rights. People who say that not voting at all and that voting third party are the same thing are wrong.  Voting is not just our Constitutional right, but our responsibility as American citizens.  Not voting is not participating, which is contradictory to what this country was founded on: that citizens have a voice in government.

When people think that voting for a third party is stupid or wasteful, that is a dangerous frame of mind.  Every vote counts in every single election, and this principle is what makes our democracy amazing.  When someone is discouraged to vote for a candidate because they are not mainstream, famous, or well-known, is preposterous.  You cannot diminish the value of someone’s vote in the United States without diminishing the value of the United States. When someone feels elections are limited to two choices, that is not a true democracy.

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