How the Two Old Parties use Political Tactics to Control Votes
By: Allan Wallace
When you cast a vote, technically it is “used,” not “wasted.” In my opinion, the only truly “wasted vote” is one that goes unused, un-cast for any candidate on the ballot. Some would have you to believe that any vote cast for a candidate outside the infamous “Two-Party System,” in their view a candidate far less-likely to win, is a “wasted vote” which is what those two parties want you to think. And others would say that any vote cast for someone who does not eventually win the election becomes a “wasted vote” and of course, that is just silly. See Closing Note below.
In an election for President or any non-local candidate, your vote counts (meaning that it is counted), but does it make a difference? Does voting for the “Lesser of Two Evils” represent the best use of your individual vote? The short answer is No, because national and state-wide elections are a high-numbers game and for President there is the insulation represented by the Electoral College.
A single vote simply cannot make enough difference to matter in national and even in state-wide elections in most states. The only exception to this is to join with a Movement who has a purposeful campaign to affect how people vote. The other place you can make a difference is on the local level where your vote along with those you might personally influence can make a difference, and perhaps change the outcome in a close race.
Vote totals for “less-likely winners” (so-called “third parties” and independents) are increasing each election cycle as more people get fed up with the status quo and start voting differently or voting their conscious. The message these votes send to the old parties gets clearer with each election. These are not “wasted” votes, they are votes “used” to promote a better future.
Let’s assume that You (with your Superpower of persuasion) convinced all the people with whom you have regular contact to vote with you, in unison, for the less evil dinosaur party’s Presidential candidate in the last election. Yes, it is an unlikely event, but remember your “superpower” and that this is just for the sake of this experiment. Total your posse of people and then find the post-election numbers for your (winner take all) state, compare the margin between the two dinosaur party candidates with your total. If that margin of votes is greater than the number of you and your posy, then there is absolutely no way you could have made any difference at all in that race. And it is highly unlikely (almost impossible) that the numbers will be anywhere near “close.”
Now, go back to each of the previous Presidential elections and make the same comparison in the state where you voted at the time, and don’t forget to increase your circle of influence if you were more gregarious or you had a larger family then. You will find that in no previous election did you have enough influence to make any kind of difference in any of the elections. Of course, there is a statistical possibility that in a very close election the numbers might come close, but that is so very rare that it may not happen within your lifetime even once.
“But what if this time is my once… the statistically possible, but highly unlikely time my vote does make a difference and I can keep the one I thoroughly hate out of office by voting for the one I hate less?”
And if you believe that, you can win the Lotto by playing $1, one time every four years. Believing like this serves the old parties, not liberty, not the country, and certainly does not serve you. The old dinosaur party politicians encourage you to concentrate on the current election and how close the race is (whether it is true or not, and whether there are larger issues that go beyond this election). They do this to keep you from even considering candidates other than themselves. They know that these “unlikely winners” would have a much better chance at winning if people did not buy into this tactic of misdirection from the two old parties. I know good and highly intelligent people who have fallen into their trap, and it caught me too for a time.
More than 25 years ago, I allowed this dinosaur party-promoted fallacy of the Wasted Vote to sway my votes. That is, until I learned the lesson taught by the Thought Experiment above, that voting for one of the two old party candidates serves only one purpose, to keep them in power by reducing their competition. I decided from that day forward to vote only for the candidates that best reflect my values and principles, regardless of how close the election is and regardless of party affiliation. And for me that is usually voting for the principled Libertarian in the race. Voting in this manner is called, “Voting your Conscious”.
The Virtues of a “Two-Party System”… Maintaining Power & Reducing Competition
Voting to keep someone you hate out of office is not a wasted vote but voting against your conscious to do so brings it dangerously close. Politicking in the US has come down to this because too many of us accept as truth the government school indoctrination about the virtues of a “Two-Party System”. If I were not a gentleman, I would curse at this point, because the so-called Two-Party System has no virtue at all, except to help keep two old dinosaur parties in power by squelching the rise of others.
The idea of a “Two-Party System” started out as a curious notion in the early days after formation of political parties in the US. It was not considered seriously until the two largest parties realized they could use it to limit choices, keep themselves in power, give “the people” a false impression that one candidate won with a majority of support, and it also made it easier for the winner to claim a “mandate of the people” when trying to push through unpopular legislation. No free nation on Earth has fewer than Five recognized political parties, except the USA. And of course, one of the least free nations on Earth, Russia, plays at democracy by acting like it has two independent parties.
We in the US have other political entities like the Libertarian, Green, and Constitution parties, but they are not even allowed to be recognized as political parties officially. They are given little attention in the media, the two dinosaur parties erect barriers to participation for them, like excluding them from Presidential Debates, even when they spend lots of money and resources on ballot access (that Democrats and Republicans do not have to spend) and even when they are on the ballot in all 50 states.
How the States keep the two old parties in power by Perverting the Electoral College
When it began, the Electoral College had two justifications, one still applies, the other doesn’t so much anymore. We had a country where far fewer than half of the citizens could read, and lines of communication were very slow and often less than reliable. It was a time before radio, the telegraph, and when printing presses were still manual, imprinting one page at a time. It just made sense for the Founders to create a system that could serve as a hedge against an uneducated and reactionary choice for the top two offices in the land.
The other reason for the Electoral College was, and is, to balance the influence for states of differing size and population. This is the reason all efforts to get rid of the Electoral College have failed. If not for the Electoral College, the states of New York, California, and Texas would dominate Presidential Elections and only if you voted in one of those states would your vote matter at all.
The way in which the Electoral College has locked in power for the old dinosaur parties is not the system itself, but what the states have done to pervert it. In the beginning and through the middle of the 1900s, Electors were apportioned in accordance to the popular vote in that state, and that made it possible for “third party” and independent candidates to get a few electoral votes.
But each state, trying to increase its own power and influence changed the election of Electors, one by one, to a Winner-Take-All system except for Nebraska and Maine. But even there the apportionment is skewed in favor of the dinosaur parties. This is how a Presidential candidate can lose the popular vote by a slim margin yet take the lion’s share of Electoral votes, still claim an overwhelming victory or a landslide, and thereby a “mandate of the people.”
In the 1796 Election there were 13 Candidates for President who got Electoral Votes, and several others who did not. And back then, the person who came in second was the Vice-President.
And this is just one more way that your vote counts but does not make a difference, unless you use your vote to send a clear message about the values and principles you hold dear. President after President from both dinosaur parties have promised “Change” in the way Washington DC operates, but if they did that, it would hurt them and their dinosaur parties, so Nothing Ever Happens!
We have seen how the two old parties and state governments controlled by them have perverted the Electoral College. They have used the dirty political tactics of telling lies about the “Two Party System”, the “Wasted Vote” and of voting for the “Lessor of Evils” to keep themselves in power by squelching the rise of other political parties. Each election proves yet again that these tactics are based on misrepresentations of the historical truth, yet they continue to work and influence how we vote.
If there is a candidate not associated with the two old parties who represents your principles and values better, and you vote against that candidate for any reason, it is like lying, it will wear on your conscious. And over time, lying with your vote about who can best represent you feeds apathy which also serves the two old parties better than voting against them. I reached a point when voting for people I disagreed with and did not want to see in office just to keep someone else out of office, started making me physically sick. After every vote like that, I felt that sick feeling deep down inside you get when you know you have done something wrong and can never undo it.
It is time to recognize that the US is too diverse to be adequately represented by only two old dinosaur parties. And it is time to stop believing the false tactical notions of old party politicians who use their positions and influence to keep only their two parties in power.
Closing Note: Wikipedia defines a “Wasted Vote” as, any vote which was not cast for the winner in an election, and the number of votes cast for the winning candidate above the number needed to win. So, by their definition, if you voted for Clinton in the last election or Romney in the one before that, or even for the winners in both elections, if your vote was not needed to help them win, you wasted your vote.
This silliness is a good example of why I do not trust Wikipedia.