The first piece from WDDIJ’s writers is coming in place of myself, and that is a piece from Rhapsodic. I always love the breath of fresh air she brings. Hopefully we’ll get some more from her soon.
LOGIC DISCONNECT: WASTING MY VOTE
I am an independent voter.
I am not a Republican, nor am I a Democrat. In 2008 I did not vote for Barack Obama. I had very little reliable information about this candidate; I knew nothing about his voting history (he’d been a pretty green politician at that time). In 2012, I did vote for him, because I’d seen what he was about and I felt comfortable that he would move us in the right direction.
This is the truth about most independent voters, actually; while some of us vote for whoever “looks good” at the time the polls open, most of the rest of us are skeptical by nature. We don’t believe the promises that are made on the campaign trail. We compare a candidate’s promises against their histories; if a candidate, for instance, has a long history in opposition to gay marriage, then, as the tide turns, suddenly becomes the loudest voice in favor of gay marriage, that raises a red flag.
I’m not here to defend independent voters, because that should need no defense. A vote is a sacred right and nobody has to justify how they use their votes. I’m here to state unequivocally that nobody else should be shaming independent voters for exercising their rights.
Yes, it does happen. I’ve heard over and over again that Ralph Nader’s voters cost Al Gore the election in 2000; if only the 2.7% of independent voters who voted for the Green Party had instead voted against Bush by voting for Gore, we would never have had to endure eight years of the George W. Bush presidency. The take-away here, of course, is that an independent vote is cheap when it’s given to a third-party candidate. It’s neutered and robbed of its true vitality, its usefulness in shaping the direction of a country.
That’s insulting in the extreme to the independent voter, or, at least, to this one. The two-party system has led to the trouble we’re having now: Super-PACs have controlled the dialog, and the massive bloc of voters who do not subscribe to either of the two major parties feel disenfranchised and even more marginalized than we ever have before. We are trying to make our voices heard, but telling us that we are defeating your candidate because we vote for a candidate in a third-party, a candidate who represents more closely the causes that we are passionate about, a candidate that may even have risen to prominence by eschewing the campaign finance reform debacle we’re experiencing now—well, that argument enrages us, because it belittles our rights and tells us, bottom-line, that we’re wrong.
Our country is currently experiencing the most volatile and rancorous race yet. We’re watching the corporate-fed delusions of the major party’s favored candidates, and we’re tired. Personally, I’m tired of watching my beloved nieces and nephews deploy to serve our country in an arid land that doesn’t want us there. I’m tired of having to deal with the consequences of bad foreign policy as well as the kind of myopic domestic policy that still prevents citizens of different sexualities, faiths, ethnicities, and languages equal access to a citizen’s rights. Finally, I’m tired of having to beg for civility, which a healthy third-party can enforce in a national dialog.
I’ve researched the voting histories of the candidates and I’m so disillusioned by the prospects facing us. We’re either going to suffer a major tidal shift in ideology, one that runs counter to a “free, loving, and color-blind society,” or we’re going to be captained by someone who has shifted position on crucial social policy initiatives and international peacekeeping strategy so often I cannot say with any confidence what position will be held when the chips are down.
So do not tell me to vote for the lesser of two evils. I don’t want to vote for any evil at all. Hear me and my fellow independent voters when we tell you that we are casting our vote for a candidate that will give us something to believe in, with a history that bears it out.
We are a powerful voice, and we should be a powerful force in American politics. Do not begrudge us this. Convince us that our vote is meaningful when we cast it for your side. I assure you of this: every time you tell us that we are “wasting” our votes, you only alienate us further from your cause.
When I tell you I’ll vote Democrat if Bernie Sanders is your candidate, but not if Hillary Clinton is, don’t throw your hands up and blame us for the fallout. Your party failed in its job to win my vote, so it goes elsewhere. That is democracy. I am one of its last foot soldiers. Do your job better, or fail.