Don't Waste Your Vote!Submitted by think.rink on Mon, 10/01/2007 - 12:59
"I don't want to waste my vote."
If you are a Ron Paul supporter, you have no doubt heard this. What's surprising is not that people say it, but the kind of people who say it. I speak to intelligent, well-informed people, who overall agree with Ron Paul's refreshingly sane political views. In the end, however, they aren't going to "waste" their vote.
Americans still have the right to vote. We can cast a ballot, and let our voice be heard. Regular people, like you and I, can state our preference regarding the executive branch of our federal government. It is one of the pillars of a Constitutional Republic. So, what exactly is a wasted vote? I think the simplest definition would be to refuse to cast a vote. You have the right, the opportunity, and the inclination to vote, and decide against it. Refusing to vote, considered unpatriotic by some, and a way of life by others, is the definition of wasting a vote. Yet, refusing to vote does have a measurable effect on the outcome. It gives greater weight to the votes that are cast. A refusal to vote is a vote by default.
This is the assertion people are making when they say a vote for Ron Paul is a wasted vote. They see it as the equivalent of not voting at all. Why? Not because it won't have any effect, but because it will only make it more likely that the greater of two evils will win. Let's not entertain such idealistic notions that the best candidate can win. Instead, you might as well cast a direct vote for the "lesser" of two evils, since our only choice is really between the two evils, anyway. The other candidates are just for show.
Even if this were true, are these people enraged about the fact that we only have an illusory choice in the matter anymore? Does it bother them that it's really a race between "two evils?" Nope. That's just the way it is. Accept it, and move along with life. This is evidence of how much hope has been lost, not only in the election process, but in the power of protest.
Casting a vote is a form of protest. It is a protest for something, and against something else. Throughout history, protests have both succeeded and failed to bring about the desired change. It's not about the outcome, but the act. Protest is inconvenient, socially unacceptable, and places us in a vulnerable position of having people ridicule or attack us. This is why true dissent is about fighting for something worth fighting for, regardless of the outcome. But this runs counter to the prevailing attitude in American culture.
No longer is it enough to just believe in the fight, but we must be guaranteed a shot at victory. Yes, before we fight a battle, we want to be assured that we will come out on top, or at least be able to hold our heads high after a dramatic defeat. Rocky Balboa lost his first match against Apollo Creed. But at least he managed to go all fifteen rounds. We're only willing to lose as long as we can go out with a roar, not a whimper. On this basis, the Revolutionary War would never have been fought. The possibility of defeat was too great. No protests would ever be waged. No Davids would ever stand up against any Goliaths. The message is clear: Instead of casting a vote that would signify our genuine choice, but might result in defeat, it is better to betray our convictions to be a part of the winning team.
So how do I define a truly wasted vote? I think a wasted vote is one that does not represent the true choice of the voter. You think Fred Thompson is the answer to all our troubles? Then by all means vote for him. If everyone honestly voted according to their genuine convictions, not according to how many other people are on the same bandwagon, this election would be very interesting indeed. Remember, whoever the winner is, they are going to insist they received a mandate from the American people, and quote the vote totals to prove it. Are you prepared to give a mandate to Rudy or Hillary?
Can Ron Paul win? Of course he can win. Congressman Paul has received over $1.2 million in "wasted votes" during the last seven days of fund-raising in September. Enough "wasted votes" have been cast since June to place him in the top three candidates in twenty out of twenty-six straw polls. The real question is "Will he win?" More importantly, will you have been a part of the greatest political upset in political history if he does win?
The ideal conditions exist to allow for a Ron Paul victory. A crowded Republican field with no clear Establishment front-runner. A group of Democratic candidates being exposed as little more than the "good cop" foil to their Republican "bad cop" adversaries. A decentralized system of grassroots supporters growing daily in numbers, with instant communication and information dissemination capabilities at their fingertips. A growing war chest of campaign funds. And a man of integrity delivering a timeless message to a nation of people who are ripe to hear it.
Ron Paul may not win the Republican Primary, and he may not win the election. But I plan on wasting my vote on him anyway.