No, a Vote for a Third Party (or Abstaining from Voting) is not the Same as a Vote for Hillary

Great short essay. I have a few additional thoughts as well.

For starters, unless you live in the 4-5 battleground states of the American electoral system, there’s really no need to fret. If you live in California as I do and lean towards the right, stop agonizing about whether or not you are morally obligated to vote for Trump to stop Hillary. You won’t. All 55 of California’s electoral votes are going to the Democratic nominee. Period. Same if you are a progressive living in deep red Texas. There’s no need to get “strategic” in a state that is anything but. Indulge yourself for once and vote (or don’t vote) on your principles.

Secondly, the math isn’t behind the “You must vote, you will be assimilated!” camp. Somin illustrates this quite well in Democracy & Political Ignorance. The chances of your singular vote influencing the outcome? Less than 1 in 100 million. Chances of influencing the 2008 contest? 1 in 650 million. Chances of influencing a non-battleground state? 1 in a billion. It makes more sense to agonize over sharing an anti-Trump/Clinton Facebook post than it does over such a small contribution.

Or take it this way. 130 million (-/+) people voted in 2012. By voting for someone you despise (Trump or Clinton, pick your poison) because of some interest in supposed “pragmatism” you are functionally saying your principle is worth 1/130 millionth of political power. That trade may be fine with you but let’s realize how utterly cheap that really is. Everyone will have their own level of respectable disagreement. But one that threshold is crossed, feel free to refuse to give your own endorsement.

Thirdly, yes, you do have an obligation to your community. No, you don’t have an obligation to vote in a presidential election. Such logic only makes sense if we lived in an elective absolute monarchy. Despite the better efforts of Presidents Bush & Obama, the United States still remains a republic of sorts, specifically one where the power is divided somewhat equally between the legislative, executive and judicial branches. Their federal power is furthermore limited by the authority of local and state governments. Your “civic duty” can be equally performed by voting in any of these other races. I for one don’t intend on voting Republican in any of my local down ticket because (beyond the fact they are DOA), the modern GOP organization is totally disillusioning. I do intend in voting in Long Beach local elections (for Eric Gray and against Mayor Garcia’s local measures). In addition your civic duty to your community can be likely equally met by donating your time, blood, money to various civic organizations, non-profits and charities. The notion that the center of communal and civic life is the state is a new and troubling one. Read some de Tocqueville, people.

This election of Clinton vs. Trump is enough to give any fair minded progressive, conservative or libertarian reason to fret. The US is likely to be less safe, more reckless in wars, and overall the political polarization of the process will continue unabated. There’s enough to worry about. Don’t worry yourself if you may be a bad person by voting your principles.

The Reformed Layman

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Now that it has become clear that the Republican candidate will be Donald Trump and that the Democrat candidate will be Hillary Clinton, the accusations have already begun against all who have said they will not vote for either candidate.  “A vote for a third party or refraining from voting altogether is the same as a vote for Hillary”, or “if you vote third party we have you to thank for Hillary becoming president”.  I intend to give several reasons why this is false  and why there is no need to give in to the guilt trip.

The first and most obvious reason is that a vote for Hillary is a vote for Hillary whereas not voting for her is one less vote than she would receive if you did vote for her.  While this is painfully obvious, those who make such accusations seem to not get this.  My first…

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