Monday, 23 May 2016

Voting for "the lesser of two evils" is a total waste of your vote



For some reason, many New Zealanders are desperately interested in who votes what in America this year even though NZers themselves won’t vote.

Anway, Jeffrey Singer is an American who generally votes Republican. But not this year.

He reckons that voting for "the lesser of two evils," as so many Trumpeters propose, is a total waste of your vote –the principal practical argument being that the choice of HillaRump no real choice at all  -- and the principal moral argument being that to vote against what you actually believe is the biggest waste of a vote that could be imagined.

He offers his line of reasoning as “a guide to others who might be agonising over their decision this year.”

Athough my personal political philosophy is libertarian, like most people, over the years I have surrendered to the binary choice our two-party system gives us when casting my vote in presidential elections. I almost always find myself settling for a “lesser of two evils,” but the “evil” is not so great as to prevent me from rationalising what amounts to, by my vote, an endorsement or affirmation of the candidate.
    Because at least rhetorically, the Republican party candidate promises a greater commitment to limited, constitutional government, entitlement reform, tackling the national debt, and a belief in the benefits of free trade, I have voted for the Republican candidate for president ever since Ronald Reagan. The Republicans repeatedly disappoint on matters of foreign policy, seeing the US as world policeman. But the Democrats fare little better on foreign policy—sometimes even worse. So foreign policy as a vote-determining factor between the two major parties tended to be a wash for me. I often profoundly disagree with the Republicans on many of the “culture war” and so-called social issues, but I have had confidence that our Constitution and judiciary will defend against any overreach by Republicans in that area.
    So as a matter of practicality, I have tended to base my vote on the differences between the two major party candidates on matters of economic liberty and commitment to the principles of federalism and limited government. I recognise the politicians in both political parties have differing promises but similar results: bigger government, greater debt, less individual liberty. But I use the party platforms and the candidates’ rhetoric to help in my rationalization (some would say self-delusion) that I am voting for someone who will, at best, move things in a better direction or, at worst, be a lesser of two evils that I can live with.
    Not so this year.

No, not this year. This year may be the worst choice of big-two candidates at any time in American history. But some Americans, like Mr Singer, still like to vote.

Not voting certainly provides the satisfaction of knowing that I did not sanction or legitimise the offerings of the two major parties. But that satisfaction is only personal and private. I want to more actively make my views known. Using the following chain of logic, I have found a positive way to express myself through, what I believe, is the most effective allocation of my vote in November:

1) According to Professor Ilya Somin in Democracy and Political Ignorance, my vote has, on average, a roughly 1 in 60 million chance of being the decisive vote in the Presidential election. (It might be a great as 1 in 10 million in my relatively small state of Arizona. It would have a roughly 1 in a billion chance of being decisive if I lived in California.)
2) If I vote for the lesser of evils and hold my nose, my vote is blended in with millions of others—there is no way to register my dissatisfaction with the choices the two major parties have given me. There is no way to separate those who voted for a lesser of two evils from those who voted because they actually LIKED the candidate.
3) If I vote for the Libertarian party candidate, I am directly affecting the vote total of that candidate. Because that candidate will get fewer total votes than the major party candidates, when all votes are totalled up, I will have had a greater effect on raising the total percentage of votes for the Libertarian candidate. If the Libertarian candidate garners say, 5 percent of the vote as opposed to 1 percent, then my vote made a greater impact in making a statement than it would have if it was folded in with the 40 or 50 million voters who voted for a major party candidate.
4) If the Libertarian candidate gets say, 5 percent of the vote, then that clearly means that 5 percent of the voters chose a candidate that they KNEW had absolutely no chance of winning, rather than choosing the lesser of two evils. What’s more, they chose the candidate with the most pro-freedom, pro-Constitution, pro-Bill of Rights program. That sends a clear message.


5) By casting my vote for the Libertarian presidential candidate, my vote is actually more meaningful and makes more of a statement.

My conclusion: Voting for the lesser of two evils is statistically and strategically wasting my vote. I will vote Libertarian for president this year. This rationale does not necessarily apply to how I will vote in the down ballot races, where my vote has a greater numerical impact, I have a greater ability to directly communicate my views, and I might have less marked dissatisfaction with many of the candidates.
I offer my line of reasoning as a guide to others who might be agonising over their decision this year.

And with the likely Libertarian Party candidate polling already in respectable numbers, and the likely Libertarian Party presidential ticket this election boasting more high-level political experience than the two big-party nominees combined – and that ticket being led by a Governor of a border-state with more first-hand knowledge of border issues than the noisy blowhard from New York -- the argument just grows more compelling.



  • "There’s no question that social mores have changed in a more libertarian direction over the past generation. That’s old news.
        “What’s new is the Republican Party’s potential abandonment, under Donald Trump, of free trade and free markets. And with the Cold War over, and the war on terror uncertain, neither Democrats nor Republicans have clear foreign policies.
        “What I come back to is the need for prudent governance. Who knows that better than former governors who have had to bridge the chasm of Republican free-market values with Democratic social liberalism?
        “In nine of the past 10 presidential elections, a former governor has been on a major-party presidential ballot. The former governor won in seven of those nine elections. In the election of 2016, might former Gov. Johnson be the best choice to bring prudence and reason to the presidency?"
    Will 2016 be the breakout year for the Libertarian Party? – DESERT NEWS
  • “An opportunity to pick a positive good, not just the lesser of two evils.”
    A Libertarian Ticket Sane Republicans Can Get Behind – DAILY BEAST
  • “Roger Stone may be a Trump ally, but he's giving high marks to the Libertarian ticket.”
    Top Trump Ally Offers Glowing Review of Libertarian Candidates – ABC NEWS
  • “Rachel Maddow reports on why Libertarian candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, is putting together a credible case for viability in the general election with a sound vice presidential pick and potential Koch backing.”
    Gary Johnson aims to offer voters a 'plan C' – MSNBC
  • “William F. Weld, the twice-elected former Republican governor of Massachusetts, has agreed to run for vice president [on the Libertarian Party ticket] with former Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico.”
    Bill Weld, Running as a Libertarian, Likens Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan to Kristallnacht – N.Y. TIMES


  1. I've been away for a while: do libertarians still believe in free immigration?

  2. Good onya Singer wet wimp wring your hands
    @ "He offers his line of reasoning as “a guide to others who might be agonising over their decision this year.”
    Now that's rich, this moron wants people to join him in ritual electoral suicide.

  3. 'moron wants people to join him in ritual electoral suicide'

    It's logic like that which got us into this mess in the first place. Voting for the Republodemocrat Party is idiotic. The truth is that the Libertarians have had the best ticket of either party since at least Reagan. Let's move that 10% to 20% and then to 30%.


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