I have many Republican friends who are disgusted that I'm voting third party this election year. They believe stopping Barack Obama from becoming president outweighs all else. Meanwhile, I have many Democrat friends who are equally disgusted; for them, seeing John McCain defeated is more important than who wins. They are all wasting their votes.
Imagine a reckless teenager who constantly runs up his parents' credit cards, smashes the family car every Friday night, is failing in school, and has serious drinking and drug problems. Now imagine that no matter how reckless and dangerous that teenager became, his parents believed his behavior was worth tolerating simply because he was "their" kid. No reasonable person would consider this good parenting.
And yet this is exactly how otherwise reasonable people vote.
No matter how bad the Republican or Democrat nominee for president is, the party faithful support their own without fail. The message to politicians? They may lie, ignore their party's platform, and betray every supposed principle, but they will never be held accountable by most voters. Like the reckless teenager, there is simply no reason for them to stop their irresponsible behavior.
The greatest power the people have is their vote, and in supporting the lesser of two evils each election, voters ensure eternal evil.
Voting third party is as practical as it is principled. Sarah Palin was chosen as McCain's running mate for a number of reasons, one of which was to appeal to independent voters in closely-contested swing states who might support Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr.
Reports The Washington Times, "As with every presidential election, the independent and Libertarian voters can make or break a mainstream candidate because they represent 41 percent of the electorate. Right after the Republican convention, John McCain showed a 12 percent jump in support among independent voters, according to a Gallup poll. The increase was due in part to Mrs. Palin."
Conservatives had little good to say about John McCain before he became the GOP nominee, but now they are prepared to vote for a pro-amnesty, liberal Republican, who recently was not only complicit in passing the greatest wealth distribution package in American history, but who also counts liberals Ted Kennedy, Joe Lieberman, and Russ Feingold amongst his greatest political allies. Is it really worth rewarding such a Republican in order to stop Obama?
This year, I will be voting for Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin. "Chuck who?" you ask. Exactly.
There is no perfect candidate, and in fact I only have two litmus tests that any candidate must pass in order to win my vote; he must be committed to a traditional foreign policy, with the first order of business being to bring our troops home from Iraq, and he must be serious about stopping illegal immigration. There are other issues that concern me, but these two promise to do the most damage to the United States, as war and open borders are inextricably linked to America's most pertinent economic, cultural, and security issues.
Chuck Baldwin could be an alcoholic, an atheist, or an asshole, and he would still receive my vote, because he's right on foreign policy and illegal immigration. Luckily, he's a conservative Christian who I agree with on most issues, and was even endorsed by Ron Paul, who I supported for the Republican nomination. If Baldwin was not running, I would be voting for Ralph Nader, who as a liberal, still passes my two litmus tests. So does Bob Barr.
Once you've decided to vote third party, it only makes sense to support the candidate you feel most comfortable with, conservative, liberal, or otherwise.
Neither Obama nor McCain pass either of my litmus tests, and the Republican nominee is arguably even worse than his Democratic opponent. As Libertarian Justin Raimondo aptly put it, the only thing Obama promises to change concerning our current foreign policy is the battlefield. McCain wants to send more troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and if he and his neoconservative advisers get their way, possibly Iran and Georgia. And whereas Obama merely supports amnesty, McCain — along with Ted Kennedy — actually sponsored the bill.
It has been said that if you don't vote, you can't complain. If you always vote for the status quo, you really have no business complaining about it. And if politics-as-usual is something you're entirely comfortable with, then by all means vote for Obama or McCain.
However, I know very few people who admit to being comfortable with the status quo. And even fewer willing to do anything about it.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.