One of the things I have noticed in recent years with our established political parties (the Democrats and Republicans) is a strong sense of entitlement. They firmly believe that you must vote for one of those parties, and they perpetuate the belief that voting for anyone else is “throwing your vote away”. This year, with two of the least popular candidates our country has ever seen, this sense of entitlement from them shows more than it ever did before, and the argument has escalated to “A vote for a third party is a vote for Trump/Hillary”.
But how can that sense of entitlement be justified? Yes, historically, Democrats and Republicans win most of the elections, but that does not mean that not supporting them is literally supporting the other candidate. I can understand how sometimes a registered Republican or Democrat might “owe the party loyalty”, but can you say the same to somebody registered with one of the smaller parties? And if somebody is an independent voter, they don’t owe either of the big parties any loyalty.
I also have some first hand experience with people trying to convince me that voting third party is a vote “for the other candidate”, and it simply is not true. I don’t even see voting third party as throwing my vote away; I am playing the long game of voting for more options. I do think that everyone should participate in the election, especially if you don’t like the main candidates running. I think participating is an important part of the process, and it is our duty as citizens in a democratic country to do the ugly work of being involved in government. (Of the larger third parties, Jill Stein with the Green party would be the more liberal option, and Gary Johnson with the Libertarians would be the more conservative option).
For years, both Democrats and Republicans have coasted on their large registration, excellent media coverage, and a public that was only informed by content spoon fed to them from television. Even when I have actively approached them to ask why I should vote for their candidate, the first thing they do is ask whether I might want the other party’s candidate to be President. These parties have forgotten that voters do not owe them a vote.
When I loathe the thought that either major party’s candidate might be president, I think I am justified in choosing a third party candidate. This year, it looks like most of the country feels the same way.