Monday, November 05, 2012

Hack the vote

Dan Gillmore has an article on choosing the lesser of twoevils to vote for. He’s wrong. You’ve got more than two choices. The Green Party and Libertarian Party are two viable alternatives. If you want to change things, you’ll do more voting for these guys than the mainstream candidates.

The discussion of third party candidates inevitably leads to the concept of “wasting your vote”. The idea is that since third party candidates have no chance of winning, then voting for them is a waste. The opposite is true.

If you are a hard core leftist, then voting for a Democrat wastes your vote. It means that Obama is free to keep Guantanamo open, increase drone strikes, crack down on whistleblowers, increase domestic surveillance, and assassinate America citizens. He does these things because he knows there is no chance of losing your vote to Romney. He takes you for granted, because he knows you’d never vote Republican.

Republicans have treated small-government Libertarians the same way. They pursue big-government projects and handouts to cronies because they know Libertarians won’t desert them, because it’d be even worse under Democrats. Republicans take Libertarians for granted, and ignore them.

Voting for Greens or Libertarians can change this. If Obama or Romney loses a swing state like Ohio because their base deserted them to a third party, then they’d stop taking your vote for granted. That’d be especially true this year, where the Green party lacks a celebrity candidate like Nader, meaning any votes to the Green candidate are serious. Likewise, it’s even truer for Libertarians, given the recent history with the Tea Party small-government rhetoric.

Your vote does little to choose a candidate, but does more to influence how a candidate governs. If Obama wins this election, but there was high turnout for the Greens, he’ll take up left-wing causes. If he loses a swing state, or the popular vote, then he’ll be keen on wooing Greens back to the Democrat fold. If Obama loses due to Green defection, even better. It’s a short term loss, but the next candidate in 4 years will change their behavior to compensate.

I’m Libertarian. My hope for this year is that Romney loses the election due to Libertarian defections. This will be bad in the short term, but in the long term it’ll (hopefully) mean Republicans will actually become the small-government party they claim to be.

So tomorrow, think about the information your vote carries in the long run rather than its effect on the election in the short run.

Update: from, an excellent rebuttal of the points I made above:


Jess Austin said...

That Gillmore piece is hilarious. He goes into paragraph after paragraph of disturbing detail about how horrible Obama's administration has been for civil liberties. Then he observes that Romney has kept some of his records private and that he opposes NN. Oh well, clearly Romney is horrible then!

Don't get me wrong; I'm sure Romney will be horrible for civil liberties. He'll be bullied by the "national security" "professionals" just as much as all recent Presidents have been. The ratchet of state power will not spin backwards. Still, unless it's the work of an unbalanced editor, Gillmore seems to be making a deliberately poor case for his thesis here.

I hope Johnson does well enough that the LP continue to field respectable candidates. They've nominated some real turds in the past, which is why this will be my first election voting for them.

Robert Graham said...

Yea, "bullied by the national security professionals" is the correct point. I thought it was just me who thought that way. Obama's problem isn't that he's secretly right-wing on such issues, it's that he doesn't understand security well-enough to push back. Nat-sec-bullies have a powerful effect on the weak minded.

railmeat said...

I voted for Johnson too. Of course he does not have a chance, though he does seem like a much stronger candidate then previous Libertarians.

I wish one of the third parties would get serious and start building strength through local elections, state and federal legislators and local parties. As things stand now a third party president could not govern even if they did win.

Jess Austin said...

Well the whole mess is ungovernable to begin with, isn't it? b^) I think a third party executive could implement an important part of the civil liberties agenda all by herself. In addition to redirecting the funding, hiring, and priorities of law enforcement, a governor or President could make pardoning all drug crimes the central activity of her administration. A special board might be formed to sort the list of drug prisoners, so the best citizens could be freed first. After the first year of pardons of thousands of people with inevitably few problems, the process would take on a life of its own. Pardons are final, by design.

Sure there would be impeachment attempts, but an honest candidate would have described this plan in detail before the election, so she'd have something of a "mandate".

railmeat said...

Jess, that is a great idea, pity I did not hear that from any candidate. I guess there are some things that an executive can do on their own. Still lasting systemic change will need much more than just the executive.

On the other hand systemic change may not be possible through the ballot box.

Jess Austin said...

Indeed, "the system" has evolved into its current observably-stable form in the presence of voting, so we wouldn't expect voting as it has existed in recent decades to destabilize it. The vote, or some other important institution, *must* be "hacked", if change is to occur.

Crazy Computer Dad said...

This was my reasoning four years ago, and I still believe it. I have been struggling with the way I was going to vote because from my point of view, the Libertarian Party definitely best represents me as a voter. However, I am not sure at this juncture that the prudent choice would be to continue the current administration. So that leads me to how best make the change and what really is holding us up? I have my ideas about that, but I really think that the best place to start putting libertarian candidates is the congressional districts and senators. My impression of these campaigns based off of one here is that they are largely financed, and very well financed, by the Democratic and Republican Parties. Even at the local level, a libertarian candidate would need a good deal of money to get the exposure needed to raise the awareness of the voters. If we can make that happen, then the parties really have to take notice. Right now, a presidential candidate getting votes isn't enough of a reason to make changes. When you start affecting the votes in congress, then there is a real reason to change.

Richard Steven Hack said...

As we anarchists say, "Don't vote - it only encourages them."

Also, to those who say that if you don't vote, you can't complain, I say if you don't vote, you're the only one who CAN complain because you bear no responsibility for putting either of these clowns in office.

Anonymous said...

Election day sucked. I live in one of the key swing states. One that is important from start to finish during election season. (We *always* have political ads, not as filthy-negative as OH though). Four years ago I was excited for Pres. Obama to win. Compared to the alt choice and where we were due to the prior decade it seemed a no-brainer.A Harvard educated Con-law man who spoke out against spying and torture, wiretapping and habeas corpus. Etc Etc. I figured with him as Pres coupled with a Republican Senate and/or house to keep in in check, we'd be good.

Four years later I feel like a damned fool. A way to partially sum the reasons why was a picture of Bush W. and Obama somewhere titled "Liar and Articulate Liar". *That* was my wasted vote. Had I seen the err of a lifetime's worth of brainwashing that says "There can only be two viable parties", I would have voted differently and encouraged others to do the same. Just like I did this year. You basically took the words from my mouth by saying neither party has any accountability because "the base" won't go to the other side. I had that same talk with several people.

This year my vote was not "wasted". In some ways, It didn't matter if I checked the box for Johnson or if I checked "other" and wrote in Captain Hook. My vote this year was a statement that the duopoly does not support my values. The 4th branch of gov't (media) did such a good job distracting everyone with "jobs" as the only issue that nobody asked about civil liberties issues, technology issues such as reforming IP laws to prevent abuse, etc etc. Such a shame that nobody called out Obama for not closing Guantanamo and for being exactly like Bush on "prolonged detention".

I just wish people would think with their brains and not their T.V.s.