Saturday, February 25, 2006

The "Wasted Vote" Argument - Answered

You can tell 'em over and over, and they don't listen. But saying it one more time can never hurt....

From The Center for Small Government
by Michael Cloud

He warned me.

"When this commercial break is over, I'm going to throw you the toughest question for Libertarian candidates," said WORC Talk Radio Host Tom LaRoche. "So buckle your seat belt."

I smiled. I love tough questions. Especially on the radio.

"I don't want to waste my vote," he said. "If I vote Libertarian, the worst of the other two candidates might get elected. I want to vote Libertarian, the Libertarian is the best candidate, but I just can't take the chance. Mr.Cloud, how do you answer this argument against voting Libertarian?"

"Do you want your vote to matter?" I asked. "Do you want your vote to count?"

"Of course I do," he said."Voting for the lesser of two evils, voting Republican or Democrat out offear that the other is so much worse. THAT vote is wasted," I said. "Because the candidate who gets your 'lesser of two evils' vote thinks that you are voting FOR him. He thinks you like what he's doing, that you want what he's giving you. Is that the message you want to send?"

"No, of course not," he said. "You know how K-Mart got the message that you didn't like anti-gun activistRosie O'Donnell in their ads?" I asked. "When they saw Wal-Mart's profits going up. When they saw K-Mart's profits going down."

I was warming to the subject. "Do you know when the Republican politicians and the Democrat politicians got the message that the American people didn't want deficits? When Ross Perot got 19% of the vote for President in 1992, campaigning almost exclusively against THE DEFICIT!"

"Politics is a marketplace. A business knows you're happy with their service and products when you spend money with them. Lots of money. Suppose you don't like the service or the products, but you keep shoppingthere. Would they clean up their act? Would they get the message that you're unhappy with them? What if you go to their complaint department again and again, but you keep shopping with them? Would they get that message?" I asked.

"But when you spend money with their competitors, they get the message. When their competitors' market share increases, they get the message. When their market share decreases, they get the message," I said. "And then they either change their behavior or lose your business."

"When you vote Libertarian, when Democrat and Republican politicians see Libertarian candidates getting 10% or 15% or 20% of the vote, on a platform of shrinking government size, spending, and power, on a platform of making government small, that's a message they respond to," I said.

"You waste your money when you spend it with businesses you don't like. You waste your vote when you spend it on politicians you don't like. The only way to get rid of bad businesses and bad politicians is to do business with their competitor," I said. "The only way to make your vote count is to vote Libertarian. Does that make sense, Mr. LaRoche?"

"Yes it does. I agree," he said.

Does my answer change people's minds? Not everyone's. But it does persuade some.

Want one example?

A lifetime Republican from Arizona was in the studio during this interview. When the radio show ended, the Republican said that I had changed his mind. Then, at my request, he filled out a Libertarian Party membership form, paid his $25 dues, and joined us. (LP NEWS, August 2001)

*********In 2002, Michael Cloud was the Libertarian U.S. candidate against John Kerry. Mr. Cloud won 384,304 votes - 19% of the total - the highest Libertarian U.S. Senate vote total and percentage in Libertarian Party History.*********

And as I've always said...If you want to change McDonald's, you don't go work for them as their head fry open up a Burger King across the street and steal their customers with better products.

So...How many of you "fry guys" are wasting your time in the Democrat and Republican parties?


Blogger Wilson Freeman said...

I am.

You have to understand that the analogy is false. I may be working as a head fry guy, but at least this way I can talk to the other fry guys around me hear what they have to say, and maybe work with them for real internal change.

My other option isn't opening up a Burger King across the street. If I had a franchise that respectable as an option I'd be right there with you. It is more like opening up a burger joint out of my basement with 2 of my friends, one of whom is famous in the community for being a wackjob. If that's the analogy, I'm clearly far more likely to affect positive change in the burger market by working at the Mcdonalds.

We simply cannot compete. The United States is structurally tied to a two party system thanks to regional elections. Libertarians are not positively percieved. And we don't live in a libertarian society; the public is populist at heart. How can we win?

Not bottom up, that's for sure. I'll proudly call myself a small "l" libertarian till the day I die. But no one has convinced me that I will be able to see positive change by working with the Libertarian party as opposed to moving for internal change in one of the major parties.

2:24 AM  
Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

Good luck with that, Wilson. Let me know when it works. Because it NEVER has in the past. In the meantime, all you are doing is serving as window dressing for a party that still wants to pretend its for liberty.

Having said that, I'm with you on the perception of libertarians. But the only way to change that is to outgrow the nut-jobs. As someone once said, the LP is too small to hide their weirdos. The Ds and the Rs have their share of loons...the good thing for them is that the loons are only a small percentage.

In the time that I've been active with the LP, I've seen more and more rational and "respectable" types come into the party. The LP may not be a fully viable party...but it's definately maturing.

9:27 AM  
Blogger doinkicarus said...

...and one person recycling can't make a difference.

I like the post LJ.

3:16 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home