“A vote for a third party is a vote for Obama.”
As a candidate for U.S. House in 2012, I cannot tell you how many times I heard this statement. It must number in the hundreds.
Though seemingly innocuous enough, it is loaded with illogical assumptions. And what it does not assume, it achieves in total irrationality.
Let us cut through the cognitive dissonance. Let reason be our guide.
NOTE: For the purpose of this article, let us refer to candidate “Romney” as “LOTE” (Lesser Of Two Evils), candidate “Obama” as “GOTE” (Greater Of Two Evils), and our third party candidate as “NOTE” (Neither Of Two Evils). We will address this theme in greater detail as well.
a contradiction at face value
Aristotle’s law of noncontradiction states that “One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.”
For example, a vote for a third party candidate – say, Mickey Mouse – cannot also be a vote for a candidate – say, GOTE – who is not Mickey Mouse. This is because ONE vote cannot be both FOR and NOT FOR any ONE candidate.
In a literal sense, the statement in question is a blatant contradiction on its face. This alone should be enough to stop reasonably intelligent people from mindlessly regurgitating such nonsense ever again, but let us continue.
When one votes FOR a candidate, that candidate and that candidate alone receives one tally in his or her column. No other candidate receives any tally whatsoever. So, in a race which is perceived to have two “mainstream” candidates, a vote for a third party candidate has, essentially, an absolute zero effect on the outcome between those two mainstream candidates. It does not “help” or “hurt’ either or those two candidates in any way. This alone should also be enough to stop reasonably intelligent people from mindlessly regurgitating such nonsense ever again, but let us continue.
a non-vote for LOTE is a vote for GOTE
What the statement really says is “Anyone who doesn’t vote, or votes for anyone but my candidate, votes for my candidate’s main opponent.” Seen in this light, the statement is incredibly pompous. It is also quite obviously unreasonable. Are those citizens who simply do not participate in national politics – for example, the Amish, or the disaffected, or even those who simply do not care – are they, de facto, voting for GOTE? Of course not. They simply are not voting.
Not to mention the inherent hypocrisy. Is a vote for LOTE more “valid” than a vote for NOTE? Of course not. Then doesn’t a vote for LOTE “harm” NOTE equally as much as a vote for NOTE “harms” LOTE? Does it not “help” GOTE in the same way? Following the statement’s logic, does not a vote for LOTE equate to a vote for GOTE equally as much as a vote for NOTE is, supposedly, a vote for GOTE?
LOTE is preferred over GOTE
“Assumption Fallacy #1” is that, if not for the third party candidate, the vote would go for LOTE. This is, however, far from accurate. I personally know many people who, if they had not voted for NOTE in 2012, would have voted for GOTE. Many others simply would not have voted for either LOTE or GOTE. I myself am in the latter group.
LOTE really is “less evil” than GOTE
Consider 2012’s LOTE and GOTE. Both were bankrolled (that is to say, owned) by the top international banks. Considering both rhetoric and record, both candidates support status quo Federal Reserve policies, bailouts, more government economic intervention, endless war, more debt, boundless state power, abridgement of civil liberties, socialized healthcare to varying degrees, and that’s just for starters. They disagreed on minutia. Was one candidate “less evil” than the other? Debatable. Was it substantially so as to warrant minor compromising on personal principles to vote for either? Not in the slightest.
LOTE would be better “all-around” than GOTE
Consider the 2008 election. If LOTE had won, America would still be on the same declining path it is today. Perhaps at a slightly lesser speed – this is debatable – but the same path nonetheless. However, consider the results of GOTE’s victory. The anti-GOTE electorate was absolutely electrified into action. This crowd would probably otherwise have passively accepted the same or similar policies had “their” candidate won. The same can be said for 2012.
Consider also that GOTE can only terrorize us for 4 more years. LOTE could have done so for 8!
Lastly… sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. This time around, GOTE is a lame duck President before he is even re-inaugurated. There’s a lot to be said for government ineptitude. It is leaps and bounds better than government malevolence.
Let us look at real-world results. Since this year’s election, a misleading statistic has floated around implying that Ron Paul voters in 4 swing states impacted the outcome of the election, because the Ron Paul primary votes in those states outweighed the Presidential Election difference. While this is a fun talking point, it is incorrect. Firstly, a portion of those voters no doubt did in fact vote for LOTE. Second, the voting demographic in the general election was vastly different than that of the primary, so much so as to make such conjectures entirely useless.
The fact is… “LOTE” would have still lost, even with NOTE votes! So in the final equation, what did NOTE votes accomplish? They showed that about 1% (of those who voted) simply do not consent.
Consider this: what if the third party candidate who had “no chance” was Thomas Jefferson? Christians, what if it was Christ? Further, what if this candidate truly appeared to have “no chance” to win? Would you cave on your principles and vote for Stalin so Hitler didn’t win? Would you go the extra step and try to convince everyone you know to vote for Stalin as well? Or, instead, would you expend that energy spreading the message of Thomas Jefferson, or Jesus Christ – knowing full well that your candidate may have a high probability of failure – but knowing that your candidate actually espouses your principles?
What it comes down to is this: Republicans need to take responsibility for their actions instead of finding scapegoats. In response to, arguably, the worst U.S. President of all time, Republicans nominated, arguably, the worst Presidential candidate of all time. They did so in the face of the most passionate political crowd in modern history – the “Ron Paul Revolution” – and they then all but officially excommunicated said group. And after all that, they expected everyone to vote for their terrible, status quo candidate? Sometimes movie quotes say it best:
How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.
– V For Vendetta
The “A vote for NOTE is a vote for GOTE!” lie has been sold by the powers-that-be forever, hand-in-hand with its sister lie, “This is the most important election in history!” The true intent is to keep you on the two-party reservation; to preserve the status quo system. And as long as this persists, it will continue to be effective.
Last but not least, the statement is nothing but an insult to the principled minority who refuse to compromise their principles for more lies. At least we have progressed past “voting third party is a wasted vote”, right?
Let us put this perpetual Orwellian doublespeak propaganda to rest, once and for all. And let us react to those who continue to parrot said for what they are: shamelessly unable (or willing) to comprehend the simplest of reason.