CAFE NOIR » Tales of an atheist, anarchist, wannabe filmmaker of sorts, and father of three lovable little beasties

Suppose they gave an election and nobody came?

If they held an election between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, would it be your civic duty to vote for the “lesser of two evils”?

If they held an election between Hillary “I-can’t-wait-to-commit-more-war-crimes” Clinton, and Donald “I-can’t-wait-for-Mexico-to-build-a-huge-wall-and-oh-yeah-I’ll-commit-plenty-of-war-crimes-too” Trump, would it be your civic duty to vote?

Well you know what they say: If you don’t vote, don’t complain!

But I can try to leave you with some food for thought that’s a little more immediately helpful than that. We’re unlikely to find viable candidates that we see completely eye to eye with on all the major issues. So here’s a mental test I like to apply that I call the Political Action Principle (PAP):

Can I say with a straight face that this candidate is likely to help steer things strongly in a positive all-things-considered direction, or is it only that they are less likely to careen toward the precipice with quite such a vile abandon?

If the former, you might do well to support them even though their candidacy is likely a hopeless cause. In recent years Ron Paul and Ralph Nader passed the PAP test for me, even though I have substantive disagreements with both of them on various issues. [Note: I initially included Bernie Sanders as well, but the more I look into his record–I know, very-late-to-the-party politically apathetic anarchist that I am–the less I’m persuaded that he leans consistently anti-war.]

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on the other hand?

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  • Heather 7.1.16 at 4:03 pm

    I vote, but it’s almost always a write in for someone not on the ballot. This is definitely another write-in year for me.

    Some might call this a wasted vote, but I see it as a vote that says “I am interested in voting, please give me a candidate worth voting for.” Not voting at all, for me, would be allowing myself to be put in the category “don’t care”. It’s not my ideal, but of the options available to me, a write in vote for someone who is not on the ballot is the choice that best fits the demands of my conscience.

    Between Stalin and Hitler, I’d go for the one with the better mustache.

    • Jeff Kesterson 7.3.16 at 3:10 pm

      Thanks for stopping in Heather! You’re in luck, there’s an official write-in candidate this year:

      Yeah I think there’s a lot more value in voting third party, write-in, or abstaining, than in voting for a major party candidate. In fact I think voting major party is the only way one can truly waste one’s vote.

      As for whether a third party or write-in vote is more effective than an abstention, I don’t know. It’s a good question! I see your point, but I wonder whether a no-vote is a more explicit (though silent) “screw you” to the contemporary two-party system. A single no-vote doesn’t count for much, sure, but if 75+% of eligible voters were to abstain, I think that would send a powerful message. But, no easy answers, or solutions…

      • Heather 7.11.16 at 10:04 am

        I’ve gone back and forth about a no vote, but by doing a half empty ballot with a write in I’m hoping it will be more obvious that I care about voting but don’t like the options. As opposed to possibly being linked in the eyes of whomever monitors such things with voting age people who can’t be torn away from posting selfies long enough to care to vote no matter what. When large numbers of Americans don’t vote at all, I don’t necessarily assume that they’re abstaining as a form of protest against the 2 party system. I assume that a lot of them don’t care and wouldn’t bother to vote regardless. But this latest election challenges thalt assumption a bit at least.

        I don’t think my technique is any more effective than a blank ballot, it’s just the one I’ve used since coming of age. Maybe this year I’ll write “2 party system” across the front with a circle around it and line through it and mail it in that way…

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