A wasted vote is the best vote
It’s about six weeks away from election day 2012, and most eyes in the media are on the nationwide polls, which indicate a fairly tight race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Although most polls show Obama up by a couple points, a few have Romney in the lead by one or two points, and the most recent Gallup poll shows them both tied at 47%.
Some may point to the closeness of this race as an indicator of the political division and the “clear choice” available in this election.
However, in my opinion, the closeness of the presidential race highlights the lack of a real choice between the two major parties on any of the important issues. The differences between Romney and Obama are nothing but rhetoric and other superficial qualities.
And even the superficial differences are not all that different. Both have been labeled by the opposing party as being “out of touch” and “elitist.” They are both millionaires– Romney many times more wealthy than Obama. They also both possess questionable honesty, with Mitt’s history of flip-flops and Barack’s history of broken campaign promises.
This lack of a clear choice has disenfranchised many voters. The political slogan on the lips of many is “Just vote for the lesser evil,” while many others opt to not vote at all, seeing no representation for their beliefs and ideals.
However, unknown to most of America–in part due to a lack of media attention–there is an option available that actually offers a clear choice to the American voter: the Libertarian Party’s candidate, former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, who is on the ballot in all 50 states, and could potentially win enough electoral votes to become president.
Although the idea of a third-party candidate succeeding is usually derided as impossible idealism, and any attempt to convince people to vote their conscience rather than for the “lesser evil” is met with scorn and accusations of “wasting your vote,” Johnson has potential to bring the idea of a third party into the mainstream.
Throughout the history of this country, parties have come and gone. Some lasted for decades, and others died as quickly as they were born. Some parties have marginalized themselves, or become obsolete naturally.
Why is it unthinkable that the same could be happening in our current political climate?
While Johnson offers a true choice from the other candidates for independents, he also has a lot to offer to those members of the two major parties who may feel as if they are no longer represented by what their party has become over the years.
Obama, who campaigned hard against the policies espoused by the Bush administration, has clearly reversed his views on many of those policies.
He said he would stop the raids on medicinal marijuana dispensaries, but there have been more raids on dispensaries under his Justice Department than under Bush’s.
Likewise, Obama’s administration has overseen more deportations than Bush’s did, as well as more drone strikes in foreign countries.
Now, while these situations probably have other factors that contribute to the increases (such as state immigration laws that are more strict and advancements in drone technology), the enforcement of these policies falls to the federal executive branch.
The president could offer more amnesty to immigrants not guilty of crimes and authorize more student and work visas with paths to permanency, reduce our global military presence, and not only direct the mission of the DEA and other federal law enforcement agencies, but also change the schedule level of marijuana to allow for medical use and research.
Romney obviously does not offer any discernible choice in matters such as this.
If what he says can be trusted–questionable at best for most politicians–Romney will be just as bad as (if not worse than) Obama when it comes to drone warfare and military interventionism, immigration policy, and drug policy.
In addition to that, given that his “RomneyCare” was the inspiration for “ObamaCare,” he offers no clear choice in health care policy from Obama. The GOP will criticize the Affordable Care Act, yet Romney’s solutions lack substance.
Neither of the major candidates has any real plan to tackle the budget or our national addiction to debt, which has just recently hit $16 trillion. (To put that in perspective: 1 trillion is equal to 1 million millions.)
Obama appears to be completely unconcerned by the exploding debt.
For Romney and Ryan it is nothing more than a talking point, which is illustrated by the ineffectiveness of the Ryan budget plan at actually reducing spending. Instead, his plan still adds an additional $3.1 trillion dollars in debt by 2022.
Neither candidate has made mention of Afghanistan or other military interventions other than to declare that they could do it better than their opponent. Meanwhile, 2,121 troops have died in Afghanistan since the beginning of military actions, 257 this year alone.
The only presidential candidate willing to have an open and frank discussion on these topics, as well as the only one to attempt to provide any real solutions to the problems we face is Gary Johnson.
He is anti-war and pro-gun; pro-gay and pro-choice; pro-cannabis and pro-immigration; pro-capitalism and anti-government.
He recognizes the need for a strong national defense, but also realizes that an endless war in Afghanistan, countless interventions around the globe and open ended wars on drugs and terror are not going to offer a solution.
Johnson supports less restrictions on immigration, understanding the importance of immigration to an economy. He wants to end the war on drugs because he understands that it has added to the ballooning prison population.
He wants to legalize marijuana because he understands the right of the individual to decide for himself what is right for his life, and because he understands the positive economic impact that legalizing cannabis will have.
Johnson also has a record to stand on. As the governor of New Mexico he vetoed 750 bills during his two terms. He also cut spending, balanced the budget, and was so well-liked that he won re-election in a state that was 2-to-1 Democrat over Republican.
Additionally, he has a good record in the private sector, having started his own handyman business that he eventually grew to employ over 1,000 people, becoming one of New Mexico’s biggest construction companies.
Johnson has a lot going for him at the moment, actually.
Good ideas, a good record and an increasingly independent minded younger generation who are most likely to be open to his ideas. The major obstacles in his path are garnering media attention and gaining name-recognition.
But even if you don’t think all of his ideas are good, they are at least different..
The bottom line is that by having more ideas in competition we have a broader discussion about the issues and can come to a better solution.
If you don’t think you’d want to vote Libertarian, consider one of the many other party options available. There’s the Green party, the Constitution party, the Socialist party, the Justice party or even Vermin Supreme.
If you can’t stomach either of the major candidates there is no need to hold your nose and vote for the “lesser evil.”
If we continue to think voting our conscience is wasting our vote, we can’t really expect things to ever change.