I’m pretty frustrated that people ONLY think about either democrats or republicans as political groups to vote for. I’ll try to avoid flaming the two parties for what seems like a conspiracy to keep other parties from becoming viable and the press in being complacent.
But I want to know…Why do YOU, yes you over there behind that computer screen. Why do you, only think of the democratic or republican party when you consider voting?
Because, quite frankly, the Democratic Party fits most closely with my opinions on many issues. Even if a third party were a better match, voting for, say, the Greens would not help elect someone sympathetic to my views.
I voted Green when I lived in Oregon on a local scale, and I think I might have even voted Libertarian once or twice as well. So far as the governorship or the presidency goes, though, I don’t see any other party as viable and do fall neatly in line with most Democratic ideals anyway.
Under there flawed voting system of the U.S., there is *no *way a vote for a third party candidate in anything beyond a local election is going to matter. It’s not a cultural malaise issue: it’s the simple fact that the way we count votes is utterly inadequate. Ross Perot got 19% of the vote when he ran, and didn’t get a single elector.
With the first-past-the-post system, the only realistic option is to vote for the major party that most resembles your views, not the one you would ideally want in power. For me, that major party is the Republican party.
I used to sometimes vote for 3rds in US elections. I thought that a strong showing for a third party might be the beginning of opening up the US system to more parties. In 2000, a strong showing for Nader resulted in a near tie between the Democrats and the Republicans, and the Republicans wound up in the White House, resulting in 8 years of the worst presidency ever.
Lesson: Never vote for anybody but a Democrat.
Alternative lesson: Never vote for anybody but the person you really actually would want to be president. This generally also eliminates 3rd party candidates as well.
I would love to but then it is like your vote does not count. Yet not doing it is like voting against your best choice. It is a problem but I go in sometimes saying I will. I just stop and go for one of the biggies. Nader is a better selection for me. The Greens are appealing too .
It has nothing to do with the Electoral College (the UK has a two-party system and no Electoral College) and everything to do with the US is on the plurality system. If you only have to get the most votes (and not, say, a majority of all votes), then third parties can never succeed unless there is a major change in demographics (this happened in the UK when the Liberals were replaced by the Labour Party – a new working class was developing with more in common with Labour than the LIberals).
Essentially, any third party in such a system arises from a particular issue becoming prominent. The two parties will adjust their positions to come closer to a third party in order to gather their votes.
I have voted for third party candidates in my youth (i.e., John Anderson in 1980), but I haven’t found one that I liked better than the two major party candidates since then.
I generally agree with the democratic party so I’ve never felt the need to vote for a 3rd party, but our system is kind of a lesser-of-two-evils kind of system for those who don’t fall neatly into one party or the other. If they vote for Nader or the green party or the communist party or whoever and they don’t have enough other people who agree with them to get their party in office their vote has essentially been wasted. If, on the other hand, they know that they agree with the democrats more than the republicans (or vice versa) they know they should vote for the least bad of the two parties to prevent the worse one from taking office.
I voted for Nader in 2000, but then I lived in DC and I think that Nader and Bush got pretty similar vote counts. (Gore won by a lot.) I now live in MD, which is pretty darn safe for Obama, so I feel free to vote for whoever I want.
So I guess my answer is that I’ll consider voting for 3rd party candidates as long as I live somewhere that’s solidly in one camp or the other, where my vote may not make much difference in the electoral college, but might make a difference toward a 3rd party getting that crucial 5% of the popular vote.
If there’s no shot at winning, why bother? Pick among the front runners, I say. Also, studies on the political evolution of different countries’ voting methods indicate that countries that require only a plurality (the most votes, like the U.S.) generally evolve into “2 party” countries, while those that require a majority (more than 50%) generally have many more small parties that actually matter. For a solution to this quandary, see the book Gaming the vote : why elections aren’t fair (and what we can do about it), by William Poundstone. He actually suggests a fairly elegant solution, but remember: a Constitutional Amendment would be required to do it. That ain’t easy.
He suggests the best way would be a system in which all of the candidates on the ballot would be rated, say, from 1 to 10. Highest average would win. Don’t scoff, he makes excellent points as to why it would work (and what’s wrong with the other systems).
Yeah. Under Australia’s preferential voting system, those who don’t care can vote for one of the Big Two, but I’m one of those curmudgeons who will play games with the ballot - usually “to stop the bastards getting complacent” (which is a common reason). So I’ll cast a vote for the Liberal (conservative) party, but it won’t be directly to them. If there are, say, ten candidates on the list, I’ll put some single issue party first (if I agree with them, of course), then the harmless crackpots, THEN the major party I actually want my vote to go to, then the harmful crackpots (racists, etc), then the opposing major party.
You get a choice of two in most instances. The person with the most votes either wins outright, or gets a run off in some local offices. But in the example of President, its just a plurality of actual voters that usually elect a majority of electors. While I agree with Nader on most of the issues, by the time he rolled around in 2000, I knew what the math was with respect to third parties and spent my money better on a lotto ticket and happily voted for Al Gore as a decent guy who was going to be a lot better than Bush. How much better, I had no idea, but I do now. That and Nader is personally a very unhappy, destructive and narcissistic human being. I think his lack of character disqualifies him from public office, to hell with agreeing on corporatist issues, the guy would be only slightly better than Stalin.
It really disgusts me the way that some people feel that voting for a candidate who has no reasonable chance of winning is WASTING your vote. Its quite the opposite, as 3rd party candidates need every vote they can get, for future publicity and funding, and as long as people have an attitude that they’ll only vote for someone who could win (aka a democrat or republican) its gonna STAY a 2 party system.
I personally have not found a 3rd party candidate that I like enough to vote for, but I’m going to stay home before I ever give another vote to a major party. Obama’s great but he’s also a democrat, a party that seeks to lock out smaller parties, so he’s not getting my vote.
Because I find most 3rd party candidates to be assholes. They aren’t running to win, they’re running to prevent someone else from winning. They’re full of anger against Republocrats and preach their coffee shop socialism. But, when it comes time to do something, they’d rather rehash their anti-Starbucks and anti-Wal Mart rhetoric for the 100000000000th time.
As others have pointed out, the American voting system is flawed in its ability to make more than two major parties viable. It is quite effectively throwing your vote away, or just being a spoiler for determining the two major candidates.
I’ll often vote independent or third party in local elections however, where partisanism can take a backseat to actual issues and persons.
Well, speaking as someone who regularly votes for Kinky Friedman for governor of Texas…
Previously my reasons for not considering third party candidates were basically because I knew they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, and I wanted my vote to go to the lesser of two evils. Then one day I literally smacked my head :smack:and said, “D’oh!” If everyone who preferred a third party candidate actually voted for that candidate, perhaps s/he would stand a chance at winning.
It comes down to the facts that (a) I want my vote to count (which it does, no matter who I vote for), and (b) I have to live with myself after the election. I’m having a truly difficult time deciding who to vote for in the presidential election, as none of the candidates I was interested in ended up getting the nominations. But I refuse, any longer, to waste my vote by voting for the lesser of two evils. I mean, when it comes down to it, the lesser of two evils is still evil*, so why would I waste my vote thusly?
*I’m not calling any specific candidate evil. I’m just attempting to illustrate the absurdity of such a vote.