If you have listened to either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney speak in the past months, you might have heard them tell you how this is, by far, the most important election of either your lifetime or that of this country. If you have listened to them recently, you might have heard how voting for the opposing candidate is going to send the country backwards or how it will lead to numerous unpleasant things which you'd be much better off avoiding by simply voting for him, whether it be Obama or Romney that is speaking. I write this article as someone who is unable to do so, yet fully wishes he were able to.
As someone who cannot vote, I have a few questions for y'all that can. How many candidates are running for the presidency of the United States? Is your vote cast in a resigned manner, thinking both candidates are unfit for the presidency but selecting one because it is the lesser of two evils? If someone were in an abusive relationship, would you not advise them to leave?
Currently, there are six individuals seeking the presidency of this nation, and they are as follows: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, Rocky Anderson. Some of y'all might be thinking about how the candidates after the first two are not real candidates or how they have no real chance of winning, how they are merely distractions from the two major political parties.
During one of our nation's most trying times, the 1860 presidential race had four 'major' contenders: Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John Breckenridge, and John Bell.
Moving to the 20th century, we have Eugene V. Debbs, who was a presidential candidate for the Socialist Party in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920 -- the last of his runs taking place while he was in prison. In his attempts at the presidency, he captured anywhere from 2.8 percent to 6 percent of the popular vote.
One of the nation's most famous presidents, Theodore Roosevelt broke away from his own Republican Party to form one of the more successful third parties, the Bull Moose Party.
In 1964, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. won the Republican New Hampshire primary not as a declared candidate but as a write-in, defeating Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. New Hampshire voters braved the snowfall and turned out in droves, and Cabot Lodge won in a landslide, even though he was half a world away as ambassador to Vietnam at the time and was surprised with his apparent success.
Throughout history, there have been numerous examples of third-party candidates and their role in American legislatures, on a local, state, and national level. Some are remembered fondly, while others are bitterly mentioned, as is the case of Ralph Nader. While the presence of third-party candidates has been evident, their role in the public eye has been of 'splitting the vote' and 'hurting' a candidate, but such an assumption is an oversight of the potential and benefits of third-party candidates.
I have spoken with folk on both sides of the popular spectrum, conservatives and liberals, and I have heard a motif amongst the two of them. He isn't exactly what I believe in, but we cannot let the other [candidate] win. While there are individuals who wholly believe in the ability and credentials of their candidate to be president, the presence of such a motif is troublesome. If the choice is oft narrowed to the lesser of two evils, how can we hope to properly elect the best fit for an entire nation?
George Washington, founding father, only president to have received 100 percent of Electoral votes, said the following of political parties:
I have already intimated to you the danger of Parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on Geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Of a two-party system, President John Adams said, "There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution. "
Our responsibility as citizens, documented or not, is to expect and support individuals who best represent us, our values, our futures, our aspirations. Falling into the illusion of choice, into a two-party paradigm, not only attempts to narrow the various views, ideologies, and experiences of millions of Americans into two possible doors, but is also a disservice to ourselves. The lesser of two evils is not improved in appearance by comparing it to another evil. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Do we not deserve better?
Lastly, the last question I present to y'all is the following: If someone is in an abusive relationship, would you not advise them to leave? Jill Stein of the Green Party asked the same question of the two-party system during her campaign.
Voting for a third party is not a wasted vote.
Gary Johnson, Libertarian presidential candidate, said, "Wasting your vote is voting for somebody that you don't believe in. That's wasting your vote. I'm asking everybody here, I'm asking everybody watching this nationwide to waste your vote on me."
Virgil Goode, Constitution Party presidential candidate said, "It isn't a wasted vote to vote for Constitutionalism. Vote for Virgil Goode 2012."
Who will you waste your vote for?