Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Marginal Vote

Lately I’ve heard many express their worry about “wasting their vote” in the upcoming presidential election. Whether it is supporting a peripheral candidate (like Ron Paul) or not voting in a race that seems to already have a clear front runner (McCain for the Republicans), people seemed to be really concerned about casting a vote that doesn’t count.

I, more than most, have very unpopular views of government, but yet I have felt in this election that I was able to voice my opinion. I have come to the conclusion that all votes are in fact “wasted votes”, that is they do not decide a winner; except for the unlikely event that one single vote actually does put one candidate above another.

For example, if candidate A beats out candidate B by 5,000 votes, then every person, those supported both candidates, cannot claim their vote counted (for if they didn’t cast a vote the outcome would be the same). If this is the case, that one persons vote cannot really decide a winner, why vote?

We vote because that is what politicians listen to. It has been a historical truth that when a minor party gains some popularity (the Progressive Party of the early 1900’s) that the major parties simply co-op these popular ideas for themselves. At a first glance this seems like cheating, but actually it’s democracy in action. The people want something and the parties adopt their ideology to fit.

For this reason I would say that no votes are wasted (in the sense that they affect public policy). Every vote for Ralph Nader, a no chance left wing candidate, caused the major presidential candidates to take notice and adjust. We can see this happening in the current race. This article shows that Governor Mike Huckabee has been adopting some ideas from Ron Paul.

So take heart, democracy isn’t perfect, but it is working. Vote for the candidate you feel will do what you want them to do in office, and let the politicians adjust.

1 comment:

You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.