Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wasting my Vote

Okay, time to take another short break from all this space stuff to get something off my chest. This has been bugging the hell out of me for the past seven years. In the year 2000, I voted for Ralph Nader.

There, I said it.

Now, to anyone out there who wants to blame me for the Bush administration and all of the terrible results of its actions, well, you know where you can shove it. To all of the TV and radio talk show hosts who feel the same way, you can shove it in the same place.

I voted for Ralph Nader because, of any of the three candidates, he was by far the most aligned with my beliefs and my point of view. I was not throwing away my vote. I was voting for what I believed in. In fact, the way I looked at it, I was not only voting for Ralph Nader, but I was voting for the green party as well. For a party to be eligible for public campaign funding, their candidate must get 5% of the previous vote. I believe that if the 2000 election had not been so close, the Green Party would have achieved that, and we might have had some more interesting choices come 2004. I am not a member of the Democratic or Republican parties, and I don't always vote for one or the other, because they have not earned it. Sure, I may hold some values in common with one, and other values in common with the other, but as institutions, they have become stuffy deceptive power-hoarding machines that will say or do anything to maintain their strangle-hold on the People of the United States, whether in competition with eachother or with other points of view. For them, it's no longer about what ideas are best suited to help the People of the United States. Where has the "pursuit of happiness" gone? No, instead, it's about saying and doing anything to convince people that they're right and everyone else is wrong, including telling voters who follow their minds and their hearts that they're "wasting their vote" or that they're "voting for a spoiler".

I'm not easily insulted, but one of the easiest ways to accomplish that is to tell me that I'm "wasting my vote". How dare they.

However, there are alternatives to our current way of doing things, which is possibly broken and probably corrupt. I'd like to take a moment to go over three.

The first alternative is something that is commonly called "Instant Runoff Voting". The simplest form of this involves voting for two candidates instead of one: a first choice and a second choice. The first choice votes are counted, and then whoever didn't vote for one of the top two get their second choice votes counted. This way, you can vote for who you want as your first choice, and still not be accused of "wasting your vote", because you can vote for one of the more popular candidates as your second choice. It is a good, proven system which is currently being used for elections in smaller communities throughout the United States. However, I doubt that it will ever be taken seriously nationwide, simply because the two major parties will see it as a threat to their dominance, and will never let it get anywhere. That's the problem with having only two major parties.

The second alternative is real campaign finance and earmarking reforms. Much of the divisiveness and power-mongering of our politics comes from the fact that there is too much money and greed operating at its core. However, these ideas suffer from the same problems as option one: the powers that be will never take it seriously, lest they cease to be the powers that be.

Har har, I made a little literary flourish right there. Did you see that?

The third alternative is if someone is elected to a high office who can change the culture of our federal politics. This is the more difficult option in my opinion, because even if the culture is changed to be more cooperative, less about power and money, and more about helping the People, who's to say that it won't slide back down to its current, horrid state of affairs? But nonetheless, this is where my hopes reside. I don't know if someone like Barack Obama could make this sort of difference (or even if he truly intends to), but the fact remains that he's the only one who is even suggesting this sorely needed course of action.

And for that, I would be proud to waste my vote on him any time.

EDIT: Oh, and by the way, for those of you who think that Obama is a Muslim from Kenya (and I've met a couple of people lately who believe that), those are outright lies. His father was, but Barack didn't have much connection with his father past early childhood. And for the record, being from another country disqualifies you for the presidency. It's in the constitution. Read it.

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