Crock the vote

David Byron

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87 Responses

  1. Tarrou says:

    My view, all politics is a compromise. Those looking for ideological purity are never going to find it in any reasonably open political system. Nor should we want to. I sympathize with those who want politicians who agree with them completely, but you're not going to get one in office. That said, I think there is a very good lesson to be had from botching one of the major party's elections for them. If libertarians are a reliable spoiler, we gain outsize influence with the major parties. Influence is gained by a willingness to work with the parties on the one hand, and the willingness to take our ball and go waste our votes, dooming a candidacy on the other hand. Long term, voting libertarian may be a more viable influencing message than is commonly thought. Of course, that's basically just me having the temerity to say that Professor Somin is dumber than me.

  2. John David Galt says:

    I hold just about exactly the opposite of the above view.

    The "Tea Party" was and is an attempt by libertarians (broadly defined) to perform a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, to kick out its present crony-fascist leadership and replace them with people who really do support smaller government and real capitalism (as the GOP has always pretended to its base that it already does).

    What we saw at this year's GOP convention is that this year's round of that takeover attempt has failed. The old guard kept control, as if to say to the libertarians, "We don't need you."

    We, the Tea Party, must show them that they're wrong by deserting en masse to the LP. Then, in 2014 and 2016, we'll have bargaining power and they'll have to let us back in.

    And whatever some people are saying about how pivotal this election is, the fact is that Romney is so close to being the "white Obama" (and has already abandoned his pledge to repeal all of Obamacare) that it will make very little difference if he wins. What matters in this election is to take away the Democratic majority in the Senate, and we can do that without a friendly President.

  3. Xenocles says:

    My vote for president (and for the record, I voted Johnson) has the following meanings:

    1) Neither major party candidate was acceptable to me.
    2) Gary Johnson was acceptable to me.

    Point 1 takes all the strategy out of that vote. I marginally prefer Romney to Obama but neither of them is good enough for me to actually put my name on it, so to speak.

    Point 2: I have my quibbles with Johnson, but I consider them minor enough to put them aside and vote for him.

    When all is said and done, I picked the candidate that best fit my views. The only difference between me and most of the rest of the electorate is that I considered third parties in that assessment. Whether that has any impact on the status of libertarianism in this country is beyond the scope of this election for me.

  4. The lesser of two evils is evil. All else is sophistry.

  5. eigenperson says:

    You will not gain much influence with the major parties by voting third-party, even if third-party votes turn out to swing an election.

    This is because the third-party voters will be perceived as falling mainly under the umbrella of one of the major parties — usually the losing party. The winning party has absolutely no incentive to court their votes — they are happy with the current situation. For example, in 2000, Nader voters were portrayed by the media as left-wing voters who would otherwise have voted Democratic. The Democrats might have had an incentive to win over those voters, but the Republicans certainly did not, since they obviously did not need them to win.

    Because the effect of voting for Nader was to put Republicans in power, the party that had an incentive to deal with the Nader voters was ejected from power at the same time that the Nader voters made their "statement". Therefore, even if the Democrats had decided to respond to the "statement" and start promoting policies that appealed to the Nader voters, this would have been ineffectual since the Republicans were in power and had every reason to prevent those policies from passing, keeping the Democrats and Greens angry with each other and making a Republican victory in the subsequent election more likely.

    In addition, Democrats became very angry with Greens after 2000, which probably made them less likely to deal with the Green party anyway.

    If, in the coming election, Gary Johnson is perceived to have "spoiled" what would otherwise have been a Romney victory, those effects will both happen on the other side of the political spectrum. Republicans will condemn the Libertarian voters for "handing" Obama a second term and refuse to deal with them, while Democrats continue to ignore the Libertarians.

    I think that if you want to advance an ideology that is not well addressed by either major party (e.g. civil liberties), your best chance is to put up candidates within one or both of the major parties, especially in safe regions. These people have built-in support because of their partisan identity and can push the party as a whole in a better direction without having to worry about their careers or re-election campaigns.

  6. eigenperson says:

    I should add that the way things are going, it looks like Obama has a good chance to win without the help of Gary Johnson. However, if that happens, it will probably not be enough to stop Republicans from blaming Gary Johnson and the Libertarians for their defeat. A scapegoat will be necessary.

  7. Zymergist says:

    Pretty much what Xenocles said. With neither main party candidate being tolerable to me, I place my vote elsewhere. I mostly agree with Johnson, and the points I don't are not deal breakers like they are with Obama and Romney. Part of the problem with what the system has become is that most everyone believes (and that belief is the key to the power) that only the Rs and Ds can make it. Right now that is true because the system has been gamed to make it that way, while the party lines are FAR more extreme left and right than the majority of the population. If enough people say 'No More' and effectively vote 'None of the above' by voting for Johnson he could in theory win, but realistically make enough of a showing to show that we are not actually locked into either the two parties that in my opinion are controlled by the lunatic fringe. My biggest issue is that both main parties try to bypass if not just ignore the constitution.

  8. John Farrier says:

    I reject the entire notion of strategic voting.

    I'm responsible for only that which I can control. I can control only my own vote, not how other people vote. They may vote for whom they choose; it's of no concern to me.

    I'm voting for Johnson because he's the person I want in the White House. Is he likely to win? No, but I don't worry about it. I concern myself only with my own vote.

  9. James Pollock says:

    My ballot has six candidates on it.

    Supporting a third-party helps them to maintain ballot access which allows them to run candidates for local elections. Running candidates in local elections, on the other hand, helps build and maintain the party, no matter which party you're talking about. If you care about the long-term prospects of the party (no matter which party you're talking about), reaching the threshold to maintain ballot access is important.

    When Romney loses, I don't think hard-core Republicans will blame Johnson for it. Rather, I suspect they'll take the attitude that Romney wasn't conservative enough, and next time they should go for a more conservative candidate (look at how many candidates the Republicans flirted with over the last year before becoming resigned to a Romney candidacy.)

  10. NL7 says:

    The value of voting is so low that expression is the only justification for it. Romney is anti libertarian on trade, civil liberties, immigration, and entitlements. He's worse than Bush on all of these and arguably his foreign policy is just as pro-government. In addition he is bad on medical marijuana and gays, like any republican.

    If republicans and democrats never lose votes for picking bad candidates then where is the voting influential? Romney is in rhetoric more authoritarian on most issues than the average elected republican. He deserves to lose libertarian votes just for that reason. And he is more pro spending than Obama. His tax policy is neutered by his impossible promise not to increase the deficit.

    I see no point in voting for him except that he supports freedom-branded authoritarianism while Obama supports compassion-branded authoritarianism. I look at the product not just the branding.

  11. Martin says:

    Somin's argument is fundamentally un-libertarian. The free market only works if people express their preferences through their actions. He is arguing instead that the market works best when you buy a product you don't want, and then try to convince the company that sells it that they should listen to you and make it better. But of course, they have no incentive to make it better than "good enough to convince you to buy." As long as voting for one of the major-party candidates–with their non-libertarian platforms–is perceived as "good enough," there never will be any change.

  12. Kirk Taylor says:

    If I were to decide not to vote for the candidate I like based on the above arguments, I might as well not vote. Saves time that way too.

    I will be voting – for my candidate.

  13. David Schwartz says:

    Only a party you don't vote for has an incentive to move their policies in a direction that would make you more likely to vote for them. It really is that simple.

  14. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    John David Galt,

    I run into this all over, from 'Libertarians' and 'Conservatives' alike. We got to our present state through DECADES of political drift toward feel-good leftism and buttinski-statism. We aren't going fix this mess in one election, or three, or even twelve. A revolution has taken place in the Republican Party since the Reagan years; before the Gipper, nomination and election of a small government Republican would have been almost unthinkable. Nixon was a big government business as usual RINO, something that has be obscured by the 'Nixon was Beezebub' narrative.

  15. RogerX says:

    Trying to convert either of the major parties into a haven for libertarian platform positions? I can't imaging this logic. How are you supposed to take all the social freedoms of the liberals (allegedly) behind the democratic party, coupled with the increasingly limited "small government / free market" conservatives allegedly in the Republican party, and reconcile it with the mindset of small government, non-interventionist military, and anti-drug-war policies of libertarianism that are directly counter to the positions of the two major parties? Shenanigans. Our "most libertarian president" may have been Reagan, but Reagan sure as hell wasn't a libertarian, small L or big.

  16. Jean says:

    I'm a Canadian, so I obviously have no vote at all. Just thought I'd make a few points.

    1) A locked-in binary system is pretty rare in the world. Most of us elsewhere have seen parties come and go. In Canada we are witnessing the complete annihilation of the most successful political party in the world. (The Liberal Party.) Political parties are permanent until they are not.

    2) By declaring that a third party can not possibly take much of the vote, and then not voting for it, you are creating a pretty clean self-fulfilling prophecy. Well done!

    3) Building credibility for a new party takes time. A lot of time. Here's what usually happens: The New Party is formed, and generally seen as a bunch of crackpots. In election #1 they gain no traction. In election #2 they elect a couple of MPs (Congress / Senate), and are not quite the crackpot party anymore. The work their way into the provinces (states).
    In election #3, a few more seats, a little more credibility. Having 15-20% of the popular vote allows the New Party to worm their way into media more frequently, which allows more people to hear their views.

    Rinse and repeat. The NDP here federally have done this for for 40 ish years, and were rewarded with Opposition status at the last election.

    If you give up every time it's hard, well then your party will never be taken seriously. It could quite easily take 20 or 30 years to gain traction, to build up the state infrastructures, to get the media attention the other parties do.

    If you are not willing to stomach that, then by all means vote for one of the "real" parties, and do your bit to ensure that the binary system remains unassailable.

  17. dave says:

    How does one claim to be fighting for change by voting for the same?
    How does one claim to believe and stand for one's principles if, when presented with an opportunity to support someone who feels the same, you give your support to someone who believes the opposite?

    I agree with most everyone's reasons. My biggest reason for having voted for Johnson? How do you advocate libertarianism, as Somin advises, and then not put "your money where your [vote] is", so to speak? To do otherwise would make me a hypocrite to everyone I've spoken to about politics in decades, at least in my own eyes.

    Not to mention, how does one choose one's votes by what others are doing, instead of what's right (insert early age adage of friends and jumping off bridges, ie fiscal debt cliffs, wars, or such)?

  18. George says:

    My vote will go to the only candidate who has promised to present Congress with a balanced budget the first year he's in office.

    We cannot keep spending like we are. we must elect people that will stop the insane amount of borrowing that is going on.

    I predict double digit inflation within the next 10 years. The only way to pay off the national debt is by making the dollar worthless.

  19. John David Galt says:

    @CSP Schofield: You've got it backwards. The GOP was a small government party up to and including Goldwater in 1964. You're right that Nixon was just the opposite (and we'd have more hope if most voters today weren't too young to remember the results of his wage and price controls). Still, the GOP were "good guys" much more recently than the Democrats were (I date that change to when Andrew Jackson replaced Jefferson).

    @eigenperson: The Democrats may hate the Green Party, but not the "green" movement as individuals; indeed, the Democratic platform is much more green-oriented now than it was in 2000. Nader and his party justifiably take credit for that. The party's own candidates don't have to reach office to "win" — they merely have to make a big party see that it needs to do more to attract "green" voters. The same goes for the Libertarian Party, and indeed that was its explicit strategy back in the '70s when I was a member.

  20. Rick H. says:

    "I'm responsible for only that which I can control. I can control only my own vote, not how other people vote."

    Exactly. All the "strategic voting" arguments depend on an insane level of arrogance; they are profoundly innumerate in that each strategic voter assumes that his/her vote just might be the one to break the tie between Obamney and Obamney. It's a delusion that only benefits the status quo.

    Voting is expression, in that you're explicitly granting your personal approval of one particular scumbag's agenda. Don't share that agenda (e.g., torture, murder, corruption)? Don't support it. Strategic voting < Not voting at all.

  21. Joe Pullen says:

    John Farrier • Oct 20, 2012 @12:46 pm – exactly. Although I tend not to concern myself as much with politics at the national level because I have far less influence there. I spend most of my time interacting and voting at the State and local level where I can make more of a difference.

  22. Thad says:

    I'm leaning Stein. (Johnson holds some positions I agree with but I'll be buried deep in the cold cold ground before I vote for someone who wants to abolish the Department of Education.)

    I feel that the Democratic Party takes guys like me for granted and that this is why we've wound up with a series of one-sided "compromises" that look an awful lot like Republicans getting what they want and then saying it's not enough (the healthcare law is a prime example: a private insurance mandate was a Republican proposal — the Heritage Foundation as a matter of fact — but as soon as Democrats embraced it the Republicans declared it "socialism").

    And part of it is that Obama simply does not represent my interests sufficiently to justify my voting for him — I think the last straw was the Obama Justice Department dropping its case against Joe Arpaio. I believe that this is a major betrayal.

    Ken's also documented the Obama Administration's continuing erosion of due process and its war on whistleblowers, so I don't expect I need to retread examples here. I am not the sort of person who criticizes that behavior from one president and then accepts it silently from the next one just because he and I are part of the same granfalloon.

    I don't really see my protest vote making a hell of a lot of difference. On the other hand, I DO think that, over time, there's a cycle to this sort of thing — I believe that Nader supporters became Dean supporters and then Obama supporters, and Obama won with their help (as well as Dean's).

    Then again, he went on to decide he didn't need them anymore and largely abandon the principles he'd campaigned on. So maybe the lesson here is that if a prominent third-party or edge candidate arises, it will make the other candidates pay lip service to his ideals but not actually follow through.

  23. StephenM3 says:

    If you want to vote for a third party, you need to promote election reform first. While it'd be nice if it was reasonable to vote for the candidate that best matched your interests, that's not how the current electoral system works. This system wasn't intended to only allow a two-party contest, but for all intents and purposes that is what we have. You cannot change that by voting for a third party, you need to change it THEN vote for a third party.

    If anyone does know how to promote the cause of fixing our broken election system, though, please tell me. Amending the constitution is hard enough, and of course nobody elected via the current process has any incentive to change it.

  24. Ghost says:

    My biggest problem with the whole "a vote for (third party candidate) is a vote for (whichever one you consider worse)" is that it expects my vote without earning it. How about this: convince me to vote for you. Gary Johnson has. It's not my fault your candidate can't.

  25. Ae Viescas says:

    "Work with the two major parties" is not the same as "vote for one of two major parties." Of course activism on certain issues can target the party you want (or both of them). But deal breakers should still be dealbreakers. Don't like both parties killing kids in Pakistan? Voting for them doesn't make you more virtuous.

    I consider it more like strategically voting *for* a candidate as a reward from them doing what you want, but only what you want. Play the long game rather than the election cycle one.

    That's even leaving aside the idea that third parties can make huge gains as a result of getting enough votes to become a "major" candidate even if they don't win. Sometimes 10% of the popular vote is all it takes to get a funding advantage in a state. Food for thought.

  26. SassQueen says:

    It doesn't matter who I vote for, because my state is so red it almost falls off the visible spectrum. Whether I am red or blue doesn't matter; my vote is essentially worthless when taken up with the collective.

    I've voted red, blue, and green. I go with whomever I think is the best fit for my views at the time. When they do away with the electoral college, then I think a 3rd party might be able to gain some actual traction in a presidential election.

  27. Duracomm says:

    A vote for Romney is a holding action that will stop the civil liberties disaster named obama from doing more damage.

    The real battle for fiscal responsibility is in congress where the tea party and groups like club for growth have had some success getting fiscal conservatives like jeff flake elected.

    They have done this by running primary candidates against big spending incumbents. If the democrats would do the same thing against there anti civil liberties incumbents it would be a two prong battle that would help spread libertarian principles on both sides of the aisle.

  28. Bob says:

    (laughing) Those worried about others' "wasted" votes have cards they ain't showing. In other words, they want you to "waste" your vote on their candidate rather than your own "wasted" preference.

    Vote your conscience as a citizen. The only truly wasted vote is the one not cast.

  29. John Barleycorn says:

    The rut this article and others like it continue to excavate is the fundamental quandary of democracy "representative" or not. Some may argue the only way out is to move towards a more proportional representation.

    Others may be wondering if representation, proportional or not is desired let alone needed at all?

    However, what I want to know is, how are things actually working out for all you "voters"?

    Obliviously some of you have been having affairs and immoral thoughts off the reservation in an effort to appease your sensibilities while others are convinced that if they play their strategy correctly and give it a few generations they will prevail inside the traditional norms.

    Not one of the comments nor the article itself dare to even consider that all this excavation is ultimately pointless unless one is certain the rut is the solution in and of itself.

    Perhaps the most obvious way out of the rut is to put down the shovel and refuse to vote at all?

    Then simply start using your time more productively like trying to figure out a way to climb out of the rut.

    If I may be so audacious I would like to make a suggestion as to what comes next…

    Perhaps a picnic? Some of you might be truly be amazed at how peaceful it is outside the rut.

    It's ok the democracy wagon and the other wagons that are in tow are in fact broken beyond repair and all this nonsense and nail biting about how best to "use" ones vote is truly counterproductive if your true objective is to be at peace with yourself and others while trying to be the best neighbor your self-preservation will allow.

    If you are lucky while you are picnicking you might actually get a look at the very top of the wagons as they lumber along over the same old trail down in the rut. The frustration and toils of the "voters" can be especially distracting at the peak of the national election cycle so do enjoy the show.

    Rumor has it civilization itself will cease to exist if this election cycle does not keep some sort of credibility intact. So everyone (well most everyone) gets to vote if they so choose. I find it intoxicatingly ironic that we as a society only shelter felons and children from this voting for your leader charade.

    One of these days the wagon will be completely out of sight. My guess is when that day comes voting will become mandatory as to preserve credibility or something like that.

    Now where we? Oh yes, please pass the olives and bread. Wait till you check out the cake I baked. I put a ladder in it and even scribbled instructions on how to use it on the inside fold of your napkin.

    Sh. Don't tell anybody, if all them voters figure out we are eating cake up here who knows what could happen…

  30. AlphaCentauri says:

    I voted for Anderson, so I know all about wasted votes.

    I'm frustrated by virtuous third party candidates that shoot straight for the top of the ticket without "paying their dues" by running for other office first, and who end up accomplishing nothing but bleeding support from whichever candidate is closest to their own ideals.

    Where are all the third party candidates in the House of Representatives? Or in state legislatures? That should be quite possible to achieve. I used to live in a city ward with an independent alderman. Our alderman was extremely influential, since he could be the deciding vote in legislation that split down party lines.

    If the Greens or the Libertarians or anyone else is really serious about change, they need to start by winning local races. It wouldn't take many third party candidates in the legislatures before their support became critical in enacting legislation. Then there would be a real chance of change.

  31. Jess says:

    @John Barleycorn • Oct 20, 2012 @6:35 pm

    An interesting and entertaining post. Well done sir.

  32. Dan Weber says:

    Insufficiently ordered thoughts. I probably contradict myself below. Very well.

    A.

    I largely think third parties for POTUS are illogical. There is exactly one President for the country and he has to be a compromise person. So third-parties have a much better role in the Congress or at the state and local level than the White House.

    B.

    I do appreciate the fact that someone could vote L instead of D or R because it will advance the causes of L. D and R will each need to take care of those voters.

    Issues with this are:

    1) D and R may consider nothing good enough for the L's. Even if one or both parties put up the person in their primary pool who most represented L ideals, the L's might still vote for the L party. After all, if the theory is to vote for the L in order to push the D's and R's towards it, why ever stop?

    2) there is much hostility between D and L. You can usually experience this by stating this fact and then watch as each side says it's all the fault of the other. The L's are going to have to hold their nose and make it seem possible they will compromise with the D's.

    C.

    Practically, if someone wants to run for office to advance libertarian causes, they should just pick a party, join it, and try to move it as much as possible towards those causes, recognizing that compromise is necessary, and placing results over ideological purity. It will not be easy at all, and your victories, while real, will not be obviously measured.

    D.

    I largely support voting the bums out constantly. Usually the bums in power will say, whatever the issue, that the new guy would be even worse. Unless the new guy is promising to be worse (which can happen to you on issues where one party is clearly the opposite of your priorities), you have to keep voting them out until someone gets the message.

  33. John Barleycorn says:

    @Dan Weber: 7:59 p.m.

    Dan, you conclude your comment with "…, you have to keep voting them out until someone gets the message."

    I do not think you are alone with your sentiments here but I find it ever more perplexing as to why you and many, many others are fairly certain, Ilya Somin included, that some time in the distant future "voting" will somehow eventually select the perfect Bum (your word not mine) to be your leader and short of that, "someone" will get the message.

    This truely does seem to me to be magical thinking on more than one level and I would argue that libertarians who would agree with Ilya are well on the way to a chasing their tails forever.

    They nearly insist that since our "system" is far from perfect, (blah, blah, blah as to exactly why that is btw)..we must ride it anyway and thus "voting" strategically will bring about some sort of something-or-the-other to further the "cause".

    Ilya and Company seem nearly certain this strategic voting nonsense will in fact not only further the "cause", but if we just keep voting "strategically" long enough like our ancestors did then one day our sacred "democracy" will eventually produce a century or so of capable "leaders" all dutifully "elected" and we will all be free to go about our business as free citizens. But mind you we will still need a few leaders around to protect and guide us just in case everyone does not get with the program within or outside our boarders.

    Please do tell me again just exactly how that voting thing is working out for you?

    As to this article of David's here at Pope Hat pondering if Ilya needs a retort on the most productive use of ones vote to furthet the "libertarian" cause let me just say if my cake were not so delicious I would be tempted to share a slice.

    Put another way it sadly apears to me that Ilya and those that agree with the sentiments in Ilya's argument are so busy getting ready to chase their own tails around for their lifetimes that they are in grave danger of tripping on their own vote and let me tell you when they do trip on their own vote this election, the next election or whatever election I will make sure they do not fall face first into my cake as it would not only spoil my peaceful picnic but would be a damn waste of cake.

    Seems to me more time should be devoted in freedom circles to trying to figuring out and rationally counter why so many people, many small and big L's included and certainly all the R's and D's just refuse to eat cake and for wherever reason insist freedom and voting are somehow intimately related.

    I am not certain but something tells me far too many of the "strategic voting" folks are still afraid of freedom and are much more comfortable with elected "leaders" moderating that freedom out incrementally if at all. Could just be a tease this freedom thing… But they will be the first to tell you one day we will make it to the promise land.

    I just can not understand why they are just certain " those people" who like to take picnics and eat cake are somehow going to go from cake eating at picnics to looting in the street.

    I can only hope that one day soon they too will take a look around and conclude that baking and eating cake is really the most direct and productive path to freedom.

    Now enough of all this silly three dimensionial chess that they pretend to play with this magical strategic voting of theirs. I have a picnic to enjoy.

    @Jess: 7:25 a warm smile and a tip of the hat.

  34. Jay Z says:

    I think it was the Belgium government which had like 100+ days without government due to a coalition not being formed due to a political party (anarchists) which was against government getting a large portion of the vote.

    Now, I'm not saying Libertarians are anarchists (I'm just insinuating it), but I do think voting for the Libertarian party has meaning. The American political system is in a dead lock, and it needs an actual 3rd party.

  35. John Barleycorn says:

    Two pork chops contemplating their votes. Served up by Mr. Fish.

    http://www.clowncrack.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/InHogHeaven.jpg

    Do pork chops eat cake?

  36. Anony Mouse says:

    The problem with protest votes is the protest is ignored when they're cast for president. Attempting to shoe-horn in a third party via the top of the ticket is a waste of time and votes. How'd that third party work out in 1992?

    If any third party wants to gain traction, it needs to stop focusing laser-like on the presidency. I still don't understand why the Libertarians (and Greens, and Socialists, and etc.) continue to tilt at that particular windmill, especially when the changes they want to enact are generally in the hands of Congress. Pour you energies into fighting for the House of Representatives, where the number of people you need to sway number in the hundreds and thousands instead of the tens of millions.

    If a third party was to secure a number of seats in the House (or a couple in the Senate), they would suddenly find themselves a "real" party that needed to be courted (or at least paid attention to) by the big two.

    Instead, they continue to crawl out of the woodwork every four years to mount a candidate the majority of the voting public probably hasn't even heard of while beating their breasts about the nobility of their cause.

    Mr. Farrier said, " I concern myself only with my own vote." Well, I concern myself with political reality, and until a third party becomes something besides a novelty, I'm not going to bother with them. Pay your dues in Congress and convince me you're worthy of consideration for the title bout.

  37. MathMage says:

    Re: a lot of the comments about Johnson being an acceptable Libertarian Party candidate while Obama/Romney are not acceptable candidates, I believe part of Somin's argument was that the Libertarian party isn't actually better at carrying out libertarian ideals than the major parties.

    I agree with several of the other posters that change has to be bottom-up. However, it should be noted that running for President is mainly a publicity stunt for the third parties: it's for visibility, not significance. A third party that gets any sort of consideration at the national level has a much better chance of making inroads at the local level. All the voters who investigated Gary Johnson and what he stands for are now more likely to investigate local libertarian candidates. So a vote for libertarians is just as strategic as a vote for the lesser of two evils–it's just a longer-term strategy.

  38. Xenocles says:

    @MathMage-

    The only reason it can be said that the LP isn't "better at carrying out libertarian ideals than the major parties" is that they don't win. I don't think it can be seriously said that if they made it into office they would not be better at advancing their own agenda than another party would be. Right now the major parties don't even keep their promises to their bases; why would I expect them to keep the promises they make to attract outliers like me?

    They don't win because they don't get votes. They don't get votes because they don't win. Well, to the extent that there's any strategy to my vote it's to break this chicken and egg paradigm.

  39. Liberaltarian says:

    I cannot comprehend how any Libertarian could even contemplate voting for Romney, let alone consider him unequivocally better than Obama.

    We're talking about the guy who cares so much about your liberty that he would gladly take away your right to control what happens in your own body. There is no more basic property right, and the Republican party is determined to take it away. A vote for any Republican candidate is literally a vote to make you a slave of the government.

    Compared to that, the Democrats' agenda seems positively harmless. They aren't keen on gun ownership, for example, but they have made absolutely no effort to restrict it, unlike the Republicans who have spent the last two years introducing laws to restrict personal bodily autonomy at every single opportunity.

  40. Kirk Taylor says:

    As a third party voter I am acutely aware that if they ever do garner majority status they will probably run away from their principles so fast it will make my head spin. Power tends to corrupt, especially in Washington.

  41. Xenocles says:

    Yeah, Liberaltarian, sure. The Democrats don't want the same level of control in other subjects. Keep telling yourself that they don't want control over what you eat and the drugs you can take (both recreational and medicinal). Democrats don't support allowing the government to detain anyone indefinitely. Democrats don't support higher taxes to fund making an increasing share of the population wards of the state. Democrats don't think that the President can bomb other countries whenever he wants to. Democrats aren't assassinating US citizens.

    At least abortion issues can be cast as conflicts between the rights of two distinct individuals (the fetus and its mother). I'm betting you don't see it that way at all, but reasonable people can disagree there. The only justification for health-related laws is ultimately that the government has an interest in keeping you healthy because it is entitled to your productivity. If I am mistaken, and you were actually talking about contraception, your objection makes even less sense because any attempt to actually restrict access to contraceptives (real freedom of access, not in the "someone else paying for it" sense Democrats like to use) would be utterly futile, even if you can find a mainstream politician who wants to do it. Freedom to use birth control is a non-issue, despite the Democrats' frantic efforts to make it one in this cycle.

    How about this: a libertarian might possibly figure that any attempts by Romney to advance the social conservative agenda as DOA, whereas there's a chance that he will slightly liberalize the country's economic policies, which is desperately needed. On the other hand, Obama has demonstrated his desire for increased corporatism or economic fascism (which I use hesitantly because the term is a lightning rod) and he has literally laughed at the idea of liberalizing drug policy. On most other issues Obama and Romney are about the same. Hence, a marginal Romney preference.

  42. piperTom says:

    I agree with most of the commenters here about giving incentives to the Ds and Rs. It's just staggering to suggest that I can expect any benefit from endorsing Robamney.

    The assumption by many is that libertarians are closer to Rs and distant from Ds. But consider issues like immigration, the drug war, Real War, and militarization of police. Many lefties are quite libertarian on these issues, esp. Real War, which is arguably Obama's worst failure.

  43. Colin says:

    I fully support the argument in the post. I'm full-on libertarian, I voted for Romney, and I live in a swing state (NC). I also voted for the Republican governor candidate. Libertarians will not achieve their goals by divesting themselves of the major parties – they just aren't powerful enough. Indeed, by removing themselves, they, through rarefaction, may actually cause further polarization of the main parties.

  44. piperTom says:

    Please, @Anony Mouse, get some facts before complaining. My state party has 16 candidates and one person in office in a city council (re-elected two years ago!).

    The state party succeeded at getting ballot access laws liberalized and was first to promote reduction in sales tax that was enacted in the 90s. When I ran for state house in 2004, it was a given that the Democrat would win, yet he felt compelled to say publicly that he was libertarian on many issues.

  45. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Let me frame it this way;

    The Libertarians don't need the Presidency, and if they got it they couldn't use it. The Libertarians need electoral victories at lower levels. They need to elect some Governors, Congresscritters, etc.. When they have some general presence in state legislatures and in Congress then it will be time for them to run for the Presidency.

    The Republicans are still going through a fight for control of their party that (beyond a few rumblings) opened with Ronald Reagan's third run for the Nomination in 1980. The fight is far from over, but it is moving along nicely and the "business as usual" political class Republicans are gradually losing ground.

    It seems to me that there are signs that the Democrats are approaching the point where they will start a sight similar to the one being waged in the Republican party. A coalition of Social Justice theorists, academic radicals, and grievance pimps has held their party captive since, roughly, 1968. I sensed Populist rumblings in the 2008 election, and hope to see some real action in 2016, although I may be overoptimistic.

    For this election, I think it is more important to defeat Obama, who strikes me as being way over his head and prey to several obsessions (like 'renewable' energy) that are seriously counterproductive, than it is to foster either the Libertarians' growth or the Democrats' ego problems. Nothing can be done, now, to incite a Populist revolt in the Democrat ranks (I had some small hopes for Hillary, based on her ego, making a real faction fight on the floor of the Democrat convention). That will be for mid-terms.

    Do I think Romney will be a wonderful President? No. But he is likely to do several right things, for reasons ranging from wrong to ambiguous. He is likely to lift a lot of restrictions on oil production. He is likely to make at least some token efforts to reign in the EPA and some other regulation-happy administrative fiefs. With a little luck he will either dial back our military operations, or pick one or two targets to concentrate upon.

    He will be a better choice that Obama. He will be a better choice than McCain would have been. Granted that there are things growing on damp bread that would have been better choices than Obama OR McCain, but none of them were running.

  46. AlphaCentauri says:

    With computerized voting, we have the ability to allow third parties without "wasted votes:" If your first choice candidate comes in last, your second choice vote is automatically cast. If that candidate runs last in the new, narrower field, your third choice is automatically cast, etc. This system could accommodate any number of parties and still end up electing a single candidate who is acceptable to the largest number of people. And nutcase candidates who might get a plurality due to a committed following of nuts in a field of multiple reasonable candidates will never win, once all the votes for less popular candidates are reassigned to a single acceptable candidate. It also eliminates the need for the electoral college, not that the electoral college has actually required human beings to do any electing in a very long time.

  47. Jeremy says:

    The argument that libertarians should not vote is just about the dumbest thing I've heard. The argument that freedoms championed by libertarians were not achieved by libertarians ignores how elections are won, it ignores the social process of democracy entirely.

    If you suggest a 3rd party group, of any flavor, that while noble of pursuit is entirely impotent at creating change, you are pre-supposing that this 3rd party group exists in a vacuum. You are quite literally suggesting that none of the other voters ever hear their ideas.

    The major parties are entirely polluted with ideas from any group that will listen to them, what gets used is what gets votes plain and simple. To suggest that the libertarian ideals were not pushed by the republicans as a result of platform pollution from within strains credibility.

    In a two-party system, the fringe parties never get elected, but they DO get listened to. The only reason they are ever listened to is with the threat of lost votes. This is the reason that it is absolutely wonderful that 3rd party voters/independents throw their votes away when they feel they must. Each wasted vote is something the major parties must consider the next time around.

  48. Justin T. says:

    The only wasted vote in my opinion would be voting for someone that I don't want in the Whitehouse because its somehow more "strategic." Obama and Romney have had ample time to convince me to vote for them and they have failed.

  49. David says:

    I guess I don't know what "libertarian" means in this context. It must be based on something other than the idea that aggression/force are morally incorrect, and so I don't see how to know what's included. If anything. Could be the bottle's empty for all I can tell.

    Voting, ab initio, is a call for the application of force to others. At which point I'm done with the process. Seems to me "achieving" things by force is a dead horse people done flogged enough. Though I'm widely known to be stupid.

    Still, for now I'll just figure to do what seems right and avoid what don't. Maybe a lot of bigger minds can explain it to me someday, like right after my nap maybe. Though I do plan to get stunkered, so it's likely to be a waste of effort anyhow.

  50. Xenocles says:

    @David-

    Someone is going to wield the power of the government. I'd just as soon see it be someone who will sit on his hands.

  51. David says:

    @Xenocles-

    Unless enough of us grow up…just enough will do; there's no sense getting entirely rational unless we come up with a better reason for it.

    I'd rather put my effort into learning how to work around these political critters and make 'em irrelevant. Which is coming along pretty nicely IMHO. 3D printers & the internet are pretty huge steps, and we don't really know yet how big they'll get. Lotta sound & fury out there at the moment, but it sounds a mite shrill to me.

    Most folks will think I'm loopy for saying this, but I don't think the political brouhaha is going to matter too very much in just a little while. At least in the sense that it's supposed to be viewed as something more than competition for a football game or Facebook. Though actually it seems more akin to Twitter, now I think on't. So maybe there'll always be a niche.

    I think 15 years from now many of those same folks will agree with my current position but still declare I'm a nut. Which is probably unavoidable in any case.

    Time for that nap. {8'>

  52. Todd Knarr says:

    One thing that affects my decision: in a system like ours where a candidate doesn't need a majority to win an election, only a plurality, a vote for a candidate with no realistic chance of getting a significant (10% or more) chunk of the vote isn't even a message to the major parties. That vote essentially drops out of the system and may as well never have been cast, which means the major parties can ignore those voters because the won't affect the outcome. It reduces the size of the total voting pool they care about by 1, but it doesn't change the balance within that pool.

    The only way my vote matters to the major parties is if I cast it in a way that affects the outcome. If I say "GOP, if you want my vote you're going to have to start changing your policies in this way, and if you don't I'm throwing my vote behind the Democratic candidate because he's less objectionable than you.", now my vote matters to the GOP because it can affect the outcome. And while a block of 10-15% of the vote going to the Libertarian party won't affect whether the Republican or Democratic candidate gets elected, a block of 5% shifting from one major candidate to the other can affect it. I have to go where the leverage is, unless both candidates are so odious that I can't bring myself to tolerate either one of them in office (and right now there's only one of them that qualifies there based on track record).

  53. John Barleycorn says:

    All this masturbating acquiescence is revolting.

  54. zaq.hack says:

    Libertarians are still the only people to closely tie to their party's name. Do you think Republicans care about the republic? Do you think Democrats care about small-d democracy? No, and more no. Someone previously alluded to the Tea Party. Is the strength of the Tea Party at the ballot box? Again, no. The strength of the Tea Party was INFLUENCING people who would never stand in the rain holding a sign. The strength of the Tea Party is in the mind of those voters who saw them and say, "You know, I've always felt that in my heart, but I've been too afraid to say so."

    The strength of small-l libertarians is not in the ballot box, either. The big-L Libertarians may come an go, win or lose, but the ideas of freedom need to persevere. The big-D Democrats don't care about votes of the "little man" except that it keeps them in power. I'm a small-l libertarian first and a big-L Libertarian when I can be at the ballot box. Prior to that, I was a small-l libertarian and a Republican when I could be at the ballot box.

    Right now, Republicans are listening to small-l libertarians. At least sometimes. Real reformers are winning elections withing the Republican party. Is Romney one of us? No, but his first debate performance showed me that he's a lot closer than I gave him credit for. Is Paul Ryan one of us? That's a more interesting question because I think the answer is "He could be, someday."

    Libertarian is not libertarian. If you would advance the small-l cause, I am among those who think that means a vote for Romney in 2012. Obama can make it much more difficult to advance the small-l causes, especially in light of the Tea Party. Harder to find funding, changes of political rules, things like the "fairness doctrine" … think about it. He must not win.

  55. AlphaCentauri says:

    The third party that Ross Perot gathered had an impact, even though he dropped out of the race before November. He had enough clout that the major party candidates courted his endorsement, based on his assessment of their approach to the deficit. He actually held formal interviews with them. Throwing his support to Clinton probably had a lot to do with Clinton winning that year, and a lot to do with deficit reduction being taken seriously by congress in the first term.

  56. Luna_the_cat says:

    There's an easier way of capturing the vote in a swing state: own the voting machines.

  57. Martin says:

    Actually, I think the issue is one of slopes. There are many axes along which platforms are distributed (high/low military spending, high/low safety net spending, high/low SS and Medicare spending, pro/anti immigration, etc.) and each party has a fitness surface of voters around their core position. Every time they shift along one axis, they lose voters at one end, and gain voters at the other end. If the net rate of votes is negative for moving in a direction, then the party generally won't move in that direction. If the net rate is positive, the party platform moves.

    The only time there will be significant movement is:
    –if the fitness surface changes on its own: the slope in favor of gay marriage in the vicinity of the Democratic party's core has been getting more favorable over time, so the Democrats have been creeping that way. Around the Republican core, the slope is way too negative on gay marriage (they'd lose far too many social conservatives for the number of moderates/liberals they'd gain), so they don't move at all.
    –if party can hop from a local maximum to a better local maximum elsewhere. This is what happened when the Democrats became the party of civil rights in the 60s, and traded the southern vote for the urban vote, or when the Republicans became the party of smaller government in the 80s, or when the Republicans switched back to being the party of bigger government in 2000.

    Unfortunately, I believe that the current slopes in the Libertarian directions are not generally favorable for either party, so there is no substantive motion. They would lose lots of their current base before they would pick up significant numbers of the libertarian 3-5%. After all, the Republicans added a plank to audit the fed. Is that enough to make you vote for them? What about if they promised to end the war in Afghanistan early? Do you trust them to do it? How far would they have to move on how many issues before you would believe you were justified in voting for them, and how much of their current base would they lose while they moved that way?

    The reality is that the "libertarianization" of the Republicans is just them moving along the axes which cost them nothing, like adding "audit the fed" and "consider a gold standard currency" to the platform. After all, none of their core particularly cares about the fed, and a "gold standard committee" is never going to recommend any action, so it's easy to make those shifts. If it picks up even one libertarian voter in a swing state it's therefore worthwhile. Likewise, everyone hates the TSA, so it's easy to be "small government" about that one–until you're in the Whitehouse, of course. Then the risk/reward is so poor (imagine what happens if we dismantle the TSA and then there's an attack) that no one will touch it. But on the core libertarian issues? Imagine what would happen if either party started talking about dramatically cutting the Military, and cutting back on current social services spending? Romney fusses about the Dems "dismantling" the military, but a few percent cut on a $700B enterprise is "dismantling" like me not eating a jelly bean is "weight loss." And everyone is happy to reform Medicare–in 20 years.

    Simply put: until one or the other party sees a large enough block of voters near the Libertarian position to make a significant shift to a new maximum, nothing substantive will happen. So vote Libertarian and give them a reason to believe that a big shift is worth their while. Everything else is proving to them that the slope is favorable right where they are now.

  58. Andrew Davis says:

    David,

    It's important to remember a simple fact about voting: the individual vote does not matter, especially in a presidential election. No single vote has ever, in the history of the United States, ever swayed an election one way or another. It's because of this fact that many economists don't vote. Because, to a rational person, the cost of voting (time, taking off work) far exceeds the benefit of voting. Now, this all depends on the emotional satisfaction you derive from participating in an election; to some, this emotional lift may be of greater value than the cost of voting.

    The point is, again, the individual vote does not matter to the overall process.

    But, an individual vote does carry a marginally more significant value depending on the candidate of which you vote. Furthermore, a vote for a candidate that gets fewer overall votes means that each vote for that candidate carries more weight, and greater significance. So, by using the "wasted vote" logic, you'd actually be wasting your vote by voting for a major party candidate because you'd be casting your lot with tens of millions of other voters. Whereas your vote would be, by percentage, higher by voting for a third-party candidate.

    Personally, I vote third party (Libertarian) for the following reasons:

    A) I really want to help the Libertarian Party break the million-vote mark for a presidential candidate because of the significance that holds for the party (historical, marketing, fundraising, earned-media).

    B) I truly believe in Johnson's platform, and therefore he ideologically represents my interests more so than Romney, or Obama.

    C) I sleep better at night knowing I haven't voted for what I see as two different wings on the same bird of prey.

    D) Down the road, when some asshat tells me I probably voted for A, or B, and therefore I am part of the problem. I can tell him, "I actually voted for C, you cad. Now snort my taint."

    E) Ross Perot.

    Why "Ross Perot"? I had the pleasure of working with Russ Verney on Bob Barr's 2008 campaign when I was the Director of Communications for the Libertarian Party. One night, Verney and I were at dinner and we were talking about Perot's campaign. Verney said that many more people were committed to Perot than actually voted for him because when they went in to vote, they thought, "This guy doesn't have a chance to win," and voted for another candidate. Verney believes that if everybody who wanted to vote for Perot actually had voted for Perot, then Perot could have (and maybe would have), won the election.

    In short, I don't buy the whole "wasted vote" argument because your vote, as an individual vote, is already a wasted vote (ignoring the argument that there is little difference, in regard to long-term impact, between Republicans and Democrats). You might as well waste it on a person with whom you agree. And, as more people do this, it might put pressure on the major two parties to start adopting positions of the third parties to bring votes back to them (for example, Ron Paul is the only reason why the Constitution was even discussed in the 2012 GOP Primary).

    Now, if you really want to make a difference, volunteer or donate to a campaign. Swaying 20 votes with your dollars, or your time, will do a lot more for your candidate than your individual vote.

    That's all.

    Andrew Davis
    Director of Communications (2007-2009)
    Libertarian Party of the United States

  59. tarylcabot says:

    Cannot in good conscience vote for either of the 2 major candidates.

    My longer term hope is that the Libertarians would pick up 2% of the vote & force the two major parties to seriously consider (1) legalization of drugs (2) a less intrusive foreign policy (3) ending crop support in its various manifestations (4) ending military aid. Can probably keep adding, but think that gets the point across. If you keep voting for candidates you really don't like in the hope that someday, maybe, perhaps, possibly, they'll throw you a bone, you will be waiting a very long time for anything beyond the meager-est of scraps.

    Of course, i'm voting in CA, where i know that no GOP candidate will stand a chance for….decades…. but I believe that i would still vote for Johnson even if i lived in Ohio.

    Just curious David, how do you plan to vote?

  60. Don says:

    "Cannot in good conscience vote for either of the 2 major candidates."

    Neither can I. And I'm not really a libertarian, so it's pretty discouraging to hear "real libertarians" inclined to continue supporting the duopoly.

    The vote is about more than "winning". No one has mentioned that a third party gets $20 million in federal funding after a 5% electoral showing? This election is an opportunity to start building something valuable.

    I particularly like this page written by a Columbia professor, who examines the logic of third-party voting in a two party system:

    Should You Vote for the Best Candidate?

  61. Dave says:

    I'd vote for Obama if I were in a swing state. But since I live in WA, where there is basically a 0% chance of a Romney win, I'll vote for Johnson with the thought that it might put the information out there that there are people out there who support his platform. But I agree that the first order priority should be to make sure your vote isn't going to help the worst option get the presidency.

  62. David says:

    @Andrew Davis

    No single vote has ever, in the history of the United States, ever swayed an election one way or another.

    … with the possible exception of O'Connor in Bush v Gore….

  63. Andrew Davis says:

    @David,

    Touche, salesman.

    *And, to clarify on my original statements, I meant no "presidential" election has been decided by a single vote (save for David's example above).

  64. Steve Florman says:

    I think Somin must be a GOP mole.

    As long as the Republicans (or the Democrats, or whomever) can get enough of you to vote for them, on whatever pretext, they have no incentive to change whatsoever. Next election cycle, they just send out their Somins to say that you have to suck it up and vote for them to be able to influence them to change from within, and once they've gotten what they want, it's bend over and grab the Vaseline for another four years. We all hate Congress but we all love our own Congresscommissar, which is why we keep sending them back at a 90%+ return rate every two years.

    If I vote at all, I vote against incumbents (this year, for Johnson, and for no one for Congress) but I am more and more coming around to Barleycorn's POV. Voting just encourages them, and doesn't accomplish anything. Some say that if you don't vote, you can't complain. On the contrary – if I vote, I'm consenting to the system. I get what I deserve.

  65. Matt says:

    "None of the candidates, even third-party ones, represent my views precisely, and so I'm not voting" is a principled statement that I would consider logically defensible. So is "government is built out of coercion and by voting for government officials I would be tacitly granting my consent to it, so I'm not voting". I think both arguments are strategically foolish, but I can't assail their internal logic.

    But I'm sorry…"Gary Johnson's the guy on the ballot who comes closest to representing me, even though he's not perfect either" is not fundamentally different than "Mitt Romney, much as I detest some of his ideas, is the better of the two candidates who have a realistic chance". There is no rational theory of electoral ethics that can categorically prefer either of those options. Which means it's all about strategy.

    We had our chance to get a more libertarian-leaning candidate at the top of the GOP ticket. In one sense, of course, we failed…we got Romney. In another, it could be argued that our failure was at least far less than total. Does anyone seriously think that, if libertarian-leaners hadn't been active throughout the primary campaign (not to mention the 2010 midterms) an establishment dude like Romney would have felt the need to name a firebreathing Tea Party reform type like Paul Ryan as his number-2? Or that he'd be bothering to even try to placate us in his public presentation now?

    Seems to me like we've gained a lot, given where we started off. We're still a long way from the goal, but the ball's moving in the right direction.

    You disagree? You think you'll have more of an impact voting for an imperfect candidate who can't win than an imperfect candidate who can? Well, it's a free country and that's your choice. But while I can't and won't claim that the evidence has conclusively disproven your strategic assertion, I will say that it hasn't been very persuasive so far.

  66. TPRJones says:

    The single greatest fraud the Republicans and Democrats ever pulled was convincing the American voters that a third party vote is a wasted vote. It's the fraud that allows all the other frauds to go unchecked.

    If everyone stops believing it it will stop being true. Don't fall for their lies. Vote for whatever candidate you find best represents your viewpoint, or none if you cannot find one you can stomach approving.

    Besides, voting is not and never has been about trying to pick a winner. This is not a horse race. It is a polling of representational preferences. If you give an answer that is not your preference, you do a disservice to your responsibility to your country.

  67. Random Encounter says:

    Wow.
    Guys, anyone who still thinks the Republican Party has a better record on civil rights, intrusive government, and fiscal responsibility than the Democrats has their head so far into the sand that if they can see daylight it's Australian.

    (My apologies to anyone who's head is naturally in Australia)

    As far as "protest voting" or whatever: I'll vote for whomever I most want to serve as President, regardless of what I think their chances are of getting the position. It isn't American Idol, we are reviewing job applicants and it is foolishness not to select the one you think is best qualified for the job.

  68. Aufero says:

    I have substantial disagreements with every candidate, major or minor, including Gary Johnson. (I admire him for his consistent libertarian stance, but feel that certain limited areas do need legislative constraints – just different constraints than we have right now.)

    Still, Johnson is the candidate with which I disagree least, and it's not like a vote for him is going to change the ultimate disposition of my state's electoral votes. (Bar some kind of massive coastal disaster, California is a lock for Obama, who would otherwise get my vote. I won't be voting Republican again until they field a candidate who doesn't feel the need to suck up to the religious right on social issues.)

    I think a third party vote might do the most good this time around.

  69. Todd Knarr says:

    @Andrew Davis

    It's important to remember a simple fact about voting: the individual vote does not matter, especially in a presidential election.

    The problem is that, while no single individual vote counts, the sum of those individual votes does count. If you don't vote it won't make a difference, but if everybody who shares your position on a matter doesn't vote then you automatically lose even if there were enough people who shared your position for it to win. And one of the easiest ways to win is to convince the other side that they don't need to get out and vote (while at the same time convincing your side they do).

    IMO the "your individual vote doesn't matter" idea is the single biggest deception perpetrated on voters, and one of the most dangerous.

  70. John Barleycorn says:

    It is unfortunate that all you voters that are apparently yearning to be represented (or is it yearning to dictate via. proxy) don't pay closer attention to how minority blocks of these reprehensible representatives of yours pout whine and otherwise act like toddlers when they are in a minority position but wanting to send a clear and unmistakeable message when they know they will be put in a situation where the must "vote" but are certain they will not prevail.

    What is that they do! They walk out! They try to "obstruct a quorum" what is it they do not voluntarily do? Starts with a V and it is not vanilla pudding for my cake.

  71. John Barleycorn says:

    Continued from above…

    Yes your representatives also filibuster to prevent voting but that tactic has long lost flavor to the smoke and mirrors inside the charade of courtesy by simply not even advancing legislation or dictates if you will if certain criteria and hurdles are not met.

    Then there is the veto another V to nullify that other V go figure?

    Anyway, I will spare you the rant as not to spoil my butterscotch and brandy frosting that shall delicately adorn my cake this afternoon.

    However, let me load another olive pit into my hand carved apple wood sling shot and attempt to kick some dust up at your feet this time instead of merely trying to dislodge a worm infested piece of fruit from the tree above you. As it is my inclination that you need to snap out of it as you toil on about the delicate nuances of your vote.

    All this masturbatory acquiescence from many on this thread is in fact not revolting at all as there is no revolt.

    In fact one could call all this acrobatic acquiescence sinister if it were not simply vain attempts at pushing rope through the rigging of the block and tackle in some bizarre attempt to move the load of peace and freedom with wishful thinking and some perverted mental house of cards millimeter by millimeter one strategic vote at a time.

    Good luck with that you fucking enabler. Go ahead go vote if you just have too. Make sure to take a photo of yourself with one of those, I voted propaganda stickers and put it in the scrape book you intend to leave to your grandchildren too.

    Eventually you will have to pull on the rope and there will always be a load there if your intention is to actually advance the load of peace and freedom.

    Stop pretending your representative or as it seems in this case to the original post, your surrogate strategically voted for representative will lift it or anything resembling the load of peace and freedom.

    Now go and voluntarily vote, "strategically" even, if you must and don't forget to parade around town with your I voted sticker.

    However, do not cry when you skin your knee only to get up off the ground in shackles after one of your "votes" .

    Do not delude yourself you will eventually trip over one of your "votes" .

    Hope to see you at the picnic as opposed to the polls.

  72. John Barleycorn says:

    It is unfortunate that all you voters out there that are apparently yearning to be represented even just a little bit strategically or otherwise (or is it yearning to dictate via. proxy) don't pay closer attention to how minority blocks of these reprehensible representatives of yours, pout whine and otherwise act like toddlers when they are in a minority position but wanting to send a clear and unmistakeable message when they know they will be put in a situation where they must "vote" but are certain they will not prevail and they find the matter at hand grandiose enough to make a "principled" statement.

    The grand irony is both sides of It is unfortunate that all you voters out there that are apparently yearning to be represented even just a little bit strategically or otherwise (or is it yearning to dictate via. proxy) don't pay closer attention to how minority blocks of these reprehensible representatives of yours, pout whine and otherwise act like toddlers when they are in a minority position but wanting to send a clear and unmistakeable message when they know they will be put in a situation where they must "vote" but are certain they will not prevail and they find the matter at hand grandiose enough to make a "principled" statement.

    The grand irony is both sides of the isle do it but I would argue only for effect. If they were human they would never return to the building let alone the "system".

    What is that they do you may ask? You might answer they give a laboriously long floor speech to an empty gallery and two television cameras then resign themselves to voting when the legislation already tweaked by the leadership actually comes up for a vote. Well they certainly do that all to often but if that was your answer you are down the rabbit hole.

    So what is the ultimate middle finger of hell no I/we will not

    What is that they do you may ask? You might answer they give a laboriously long floor speech to an empty gallery and two television cameras then resign themselves to voting when the legislation already tweaked by the leadership actually comes up for a vote. Well they certainly do that all to often but if that was your answer you are down the rabbit hole.

    So what is the ultimate middle finger of hell no I/we will not!

    They walk out! They try to "obstruct a quorum" what is it they do not voluntarily do? Starts with a V and it is not vanilla pudding for my cake.

    Yes your representatives also filibuster to prevent voting but that tactic has long lost flavor to the smoke and mirrors inside the charade of courtesy by simply not even advancing legislation or dictates if you will if certain criteria and hurdles are not met.

    Then there is the veto another V to nullify that other V go figure?

    Anyway, I will spare you the rant as not to spoil my butterscotch and brandy frosting that shall delicately adorn my cake this afternoon.

    However, let me load another olive pit into my hand carved apple wood sling shot and attempt to kick some dust up at your feet this time instead of merely trying to dislodge a worm infested piece of fruit from the tree above you. As it is my inclination that you need to snap out of it as you toil on about the delicate nuances of your vote.

    All this masturbatory acquiescence from many on this thread is in fact not revolting at all as there is no revolt.

    In fact one could call all this acrobatic acquiescence sinister if it were not simply vain attempts at pushing rope through the rigging of the block and tackle in some bizarre attempt to move the load of peace and freedom with wishful thinking and some perverted mental house of cards millimeter by millimeter one strategic vote at a time.

    Good luck with that you fucking enabler. Go ahead go vote if you just have too. Make sure to take a photo of yourself with one of those, I voted propaganda stickers and put it in the scrape book you intend to leave to your grandchildren too.

    Eventually you will have to pull on the rope and there will always be a load there if your intention is to actually advance the load of peace and freedom.

    Stop pretending your representative or as it seems in this case to the original post, your surrogate strategically voted for representative will lift it or anything resembling the load of peace and freedom.

    Now go and voluntarily vote, "strategically" even, if you must and don't forget to parade around town with your I voted sticker.

    However, do not cry when you skin your knee only to get up off the ground in shackles after one of your "votes" .

    Do not delude yourself you will eventually trip over one of your "votes" .

    Hope to see you at the picnic as opposed to the polls.

    Such a wasted vote when the rant does not make it through on the first round. Anyway fuck the vote here is the last rant as it should have appeared before I let my lobbyists' cut it up and paste it to completely change its meaning. ;) please feel free to exile my first two feeble attempts to Australia forever Pope Hat moderator.

    Something like this…I should really be eating cake.

    It is unfortunate that all you voters out there that are apparently yearning to be represented even just a little bit strategically or otherwise (or is it yearning to dictate via. proxy) don't pay closer attention to how minority blocks of these reprehensible representatives of yours, pout whine and otherwise act like toddlers when they are in a minority position but wanting to send a clear and unmistakeable message when they know they will be put in a situation where they must "vote" but are certain they will not prevail and they find the matter at hand grandiose enough to make a "principled" statement.

    The grand irony is both sides of It is unfortunate that all you voters out there that are apparently yearning to be represented even just a little bit strategically or otherwise (or is it yearning to dictate via. proxy) don't pay closer attention to how minority blocks of these reprehensible representatives of yours, pout whine and otherwise act like toddlers when they are in a minority position but wanting to send a clear and unmistakeable message when they know they will be put in a situation where they must "vote" but are certain they will not prevail and they find the matter at hand grandiose enough to make a "principled" statement.

    The grand irony is both sides of the isle do it but I would argue only for effect. If they were human they would never return to the building let alone the "system".

    What is that they do you may ask? You might answer they give a laboriously long floor speech to an empty gallery and two television cameras then resign themselves to voting when the legislation already tweaked by the leadership actually comes up for a vote. Well they certainly do that all to often but if that was your answer you are down the rabbit hole.

    So what is the ultimate middle finger of hell no I/we will not

    What is that they do you may ask? You might answer they give a laboriously long floor speech to an empty gallery and two television cameras then resign themselves to voting when the legislation already tweaked by the leadership actually comes up for a vote. Well they certainly do that all to often but if that was your answer you are down the rabbit hole.

    So what is the ultimate middle finger of hell no I/we will not!

    They walk out! They try to "obstruct a quorum" what is it they do not voluntarily do? Starts with a V and it is not vanilla pudding for my cake.

    Yes your representatives also filibuster to prevent voting but that tactic has long lost flavor to the smoke and mirrors inside the charade of courtesy by simply not even advancing legislation or dictates if you will if certain criteria and hurdles are not met.

    Then there is the veto another V to nullify that other V go figure?

    Anyway, I will spare you the rant as not to spoil my butterscotch and brandy frosting that shall delicately adorn my cake this afternoon.

    However, let me load another olive pit into my hand carved apple wood sling shot and attempt to kick some dust up at your feet this time instead of merely trying to dislodge a worm infested piece of fruit from the tree above you. As it is my inclination that you need to snap out of it as you toil on about the delicate nuances of your vote.

    All this masturbatory acquiescence from many on this thread is in fact not revolting at all as there is no revolt.

    In fact one could call all this acrobatic acquiescence sinister if it were not simply vain attempts at pushing rope through the rigging of the block and tackle in some bizarre attempt to move the load of peace and freedom with wishful thinking and some perverted mental house of cards millimeter by millimeter one strategic vote at a time.

    Good luck with that you fucking enabler. Go ahead go vote if you just have too. Make sure to take a photo of yourself with one of those, I voted propaganda stickers and put it in the scrape book you intend to leave to your grandchildren too.

    Eventually you will have to pull on the rope and there will always be a load there if your intention is to actually advance the load of peace and freedom.

    Stop pretending your representative or as it seems in this case to the original post, your surrogate strategically voted for representative will lift it or anything resembling the load of peace and freedom.

    Now go and voluntarily vote, "strategically" even, if you must and don't forget to parade around town with your I voted sticker.

    However, do not cry when you skin your knee only to get up off the ground in shackles after one of your "votes" .

    Do not delude yourself you will eventually trip over one of your "votes" .

    Hope to see you at the picnic as opposed to the polls.

  73. TPRJones says:

    It's important to remember a simple fact about voting: the individual vote does not matter, especially in a presidential election.
    It's important to remember a simple fact about your paycheck: the individual dollars do not matter, especially in your bank account. So, you should give all those dollars to me. You shouldn't mind, since none of them matters.

  74. John Barleycorn says:

    Well what do you know? I have figured out the cut and paste function on my phone from my notes to an actual rant without all the mess.

    Please accept my apologies one and all, for the mess above in my last three attempts: 1:45, 1:49, & 2:05 p.m. If you attempted to figure out what was going on there. Well, I could say I was messing with you strategically but that would be a lie.

    Those attempts were a disservice to this entertaining comment thread.

    Pope Hat moderator please delete my last three attempts. Or leave them up there as a lesson to posters such as myself to edit before hitting the submit tab.

    "But damn it was so fun just hitting that "submit" button. Almost like voting, and it felt so good. Oh shit there is no redo tab…

    Anyway if you give a shit… The no fucking way you should vote rant in its entirety:

    It is unfortunate that all you voters out there that are apparently yearning to be represented even just a little bit strategically or otherwise (or is it yearning to dictate via. proxy) don't pay closer attention to how minority blocks of these reprehensible representatives of yours, pout whine and otherwise act like toddlers when they are in a minority position but wanting to send a clear and unmistakeable message when they know they will be put in a situation where they must "vote" but are certain they will not prevail and they find the matter at hand grandiose enough to make a "principled" statement.

    The grand irony is both sides of the isle do it but I would argue only for effect. If they were human they would never return to the building let alone the "system".

    What is that they do you may ask? You might answer they give a laboriously long floor speech to an empty gallery and two television cameras then resign themselves to voting when the legislation already tweaked by the leadership actually comes up for a vote. Well they certainly do that all to often but if that was your answer you are down the rabbit hole.

    So what is the ultimate middle finger of hell no I/we will not!

    They walk out! They try to "obstruct a quorum" what is it they do not voluntarily do? Starts with a V and it is not vanilla pudding for my cake.

    Yes your representatives also filibuster to prevent voting but that tactic has long lost flavor to the smoke and mirrors inside the charade of courtesy by simply not even advancing legislation or dictates if you will if certain criteria and hurdles are not met.

    Then there is the veto another V to nullify that other V go figure?

    Anyway, I will spare you to long of a rant and make it just long as not to spoil my butterscotch and brandy frosting that shall delicately adorn my cake this afternoon.

    However, I will load another olive pit into my hand carved apple wood sling shot and attempt to kick some dust up at your feet this time instead of merely trying to dislodge a worm infested piece of fruit from the tree above you. As it is my inclination that you need to snap out of it as you toil on about the delicate nuances of your vote.

    All this masturbatory acquiescence from many on this thread is in fact not revolting at all as there is no revolt.

    In fact one could call all this acrobatic acquiescence sinister if it were not simply vain attempts at pushing rope through the rigging of the block and tackle in some bizarre attempt to move the load of peace and freedom with wishful thinking and some perverted mental house of cards millimeter by millimeter one strategic vote at a time.

    Good luck with that you fucking enabler. Go ahead go vote if you just have too. Make sure to take a photo of yourself with one of those, I voted propaganda stickers and put it in the scrape book you intend to leave to your grandchildren too.

    Eventually you will have to pull on the rope and there will always be a load there if your intention is to actually advance the load of peace and freedom.

    Stop pretending your representative or as it seems in this case to the original post, your surrogate strategically voted for representative will lift it or anything resembling the load of peace and freedom.

    Now go and voluntarily vote, "strategically" even, if you must and don't forget to parade around town with your I voted sticker.

    However, do not cry when you skin your knee only to get up off the ground in shackles after one of your "votes" .

    Do not delude yourself you will eventually trip over one of your "votes" .

    Hope to see you at the picnic as opposed to the polls.

  75. Lago says:

    I'm probably what you would consider a libertarian. I'm not going to vote for Johnson. Not because I'm not on his side with many issues, and not for the reasons quoted in the post, but because I'm wary of anybody who takes things to absolutist extremes. Johnson seems to have a track record of not working with the government, on anything.

    That said, voting for the candidate you want is not throwing away your vote, it's exactly the opposite. The two party system is frankly broken. The more people realize that, the more fed up they get with it, the more likely somebody outside of it WILL get voted into office. Your decision should not have to come down to a "lesser of two evils" vote, I disagree with that vehemently.

  76. AlphaCentauri says:

    TPRJones: Well put! As I recall, the margin in Florida in 2000 was 50 votes, much less than the number improperly culled from voting lists because they shared names with felons.

    Also, if you don't vote, that's public information. Elected officials know who votes and who doesn't, for every election. If you never vote, they have exactly zero reason to care what you think.

    What they don't know is HOW you voted. If you show up and don't pull any levers, they don't know who did that. If you vote for all third party candidates, they don't know who did that. If you write in candidates for every office and keep the guys at campaign headquarters waiting a little later for the returns from your precinct, they don't know who did that.

    If you honestly can't say there is one candidate you prefer, nor one that you feel obligated to vote against, write in someone. But sign your name in that book at the front table and keep them guessing about you.

  77. For the love of God, the Romney/Ryan budget INCREASES government spending !!!
    That's all that matters. The crazed s.o.b.'s look at our military spending, which is equal to that of the 17 nations combined, most of whom are friendlies, and they want to f***ing increase the military spending !! Despite a 16 trillion dollar debt.
    How much longer are you folks going to tolerate this false choice of Stalin vs. Mao (but Stalin is pro-abortion) crap?
    There isn't twenty cents worth of genuine difference in the Obamneys. Who gives a rip whether Statist Group A blames Libertarians for their loss to Statist Group B?
    A pox on both their houses. If you can find a way to tell them apart.

  78. Zugswang says:

    My take is, in a swing state, you take the lesser of two evils in the presidential race, and maybe even senatorial races. In house races, you vote your consciousness. You support the major party that shares more of your espoused ideals when you can have a small, but meaningful impact and hope that others will see the strength in those ideas, and the weaknesses in the rest. When your impact can be larger, such as at district level, you support who you believe in most.

    In heavily partisan states, I think you vote your conscience 100% of the time. If, say, 5-10% of the vote goes to 3rd party X, then the major party or future politician may feel it is in their best interests to shift its position to court your vote in the next election cycle. Maybe there's enough of you that a shift in policy turns your residence into a swing state, like what happened with Indiana in 2008. You don't necessarily need to have a libertarian or a green or whatever 3rd party you support in office to influence policy. You simply need to show that there's enough of you to tip the balance in favor of one party or another, and the party will shift to gain whatever advantage it can without making significant compromises. And a nice, simple way to show that is the vote percentages for the candidate you really can support.

    It is a small change at first, but over time, small changes add up. Compare the major parties in the 1970s to today. These parties didn't change in response to 3rd party threats, they made small shifts every year to exploit whatever small advantage they could get over their main rival, and the changes were small enough that party loyalists would follow. Only the truly thoughtful independents might change their allegiances, but such principled individualists are rarely united, and are small enough as to be easily ignored, anyway.

    Democrats and Republicans have too much of an established advantage to be overtaken as organizations, but their political philosophies are subtly malleable.

  79. John Barleycorn says:

    If tunes are allowed here is one with hands and feet.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GgFqvteVrMIg

  80. John Barleycorn says:

    Link fail

    Madeleine Peyroux – This is Heaven to me

    Anyway, I think Pope Hat should explore morels of music.

    Something tells me there is a reason why, but often reason says interesting concept.

  81. Xenocles says:

    "But I'm sorry…"Gary Johnson's the guy on the ballot who comes closest to representing me, even though he's not perfect either" is not fundamentally different than "Mitt Romney, much as I detest some of his ideas, is the better of the two candidates who have a realistic chance". There is no rational theory of electoral ethics that can categorically prefer either of those options. "

    You should be sorry. There are differences you accept and compromise on, and there are differences that become hills to die defending. You might disagree with the categorization of specific cases in politics, but to deny the categories exist is risible at best.

  82. David says:

    @tarylcabot

    Just curious David, how do you plan to vote?

    There are several Davids in this thread, but I'll assume this question's for me. I'll be voting for Gary Johnson.

  83. PEBKAC says:

    I can't vote for a man who authorizes and condones a 24/7 war against Pakistani civilians (that occasionally kills some militants if you're lucky) and supports indefinite detention of US citizens. So I can't vote for Romney or Obama. They are functionally the same person on issues that they can actually have influence over so voting for either one is voting for the same basic platform. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

    So I can't protest one of them by voting for the other as that's just as useless as voting for a third party candidate, and I live in California so it's not like my vote counts anyway…

    Hence I see it as a question of write-in for Ron Paul or vote for Gary Johnson, or possibly even a doodle a cactus or something in the section for president but I worry that might invalidate the rest of my ballot.

  84. perlhaqr says:

    As (rather hearteningly!) said above so many times already:

    No.

    I'm voting for the candidate I actually want to win. Maybe not enough Americans want Gary Johnson to be president for him to win, but I can register my position.

    I would rather not vote at all, than to vote for either Obomney or Robama.

  85. Pevinsghost says:

    The chance that your vote will be decisive is extremely low, but still just barely high enough justify taking the responsibility seriously.

    Part of the problem is in the highly unlikely event that your vote is decisive, the vote was within 1 vote of swinging either way, maybe a dozen if you have enough influence over a large number of friends & family. If that's the case, your vote isn't going to decide the matter anyway.
    If the vote margin is less than several thousands, it's going to a court and a judge is going to be deciding the victor anyway. Your vote never counts. If voting could change anything, they'd outlaw it.
    So while Somin is correct that discussion, debate, & research are far superior to expressive voting, choosing the lesser of two evils is still just choosing evil when you could be spending an evening productively instead.

  1. November 3, 2012

    [...] forms of this argument have been going on at the Volokh Conspiracy and Popehat, written by lawyers of a conservative/libertarian [...]