I’m hearing lots of this sort of talk lately: “I don’t support the views of either candidate” or “my candidate of choice didn’t win the party’s nomination.” These are platitudes used as justification for a refusal to vote in the upcoming presidential election. I completely understand the disdain for the “lesser of two evils” philosophy, and there certainly is a time and place to keep your hands entirely clean. Yet I submit to you that this November 6th is no such occasion.
People who abstain in these situations usually suffer from an overinflated sense of self-righteousness, a poor comprehension of the full implications of the “greater evil” or just a general lack of touch with reality. I suppose some experience gratification at being able to say “well, I didn’t vote for him!” in the face of any predicament arising in the wake of an election. Then again, when my spouse makes an unwise financial decision of which I did not approve, there’s no satisfaction for me in gloating, “I told you so” since I, too, am feeling the burn. It comes down to analyzing the stakes…realistically: what is to be gained versus lost by standing your ideological ground. If you forget your homemade lunch one day and are stuck with a greasy hamburger or a byproduct hotdog, it may well be best to forgo lunch. Assuming you object to those options due to health concerns, you can guard your digestion at the price of a few hours of tummy-growling. If, however, you are in a long-term situation where normally “taboo” foods are your sole source of sustenance, your decision might be a bit harder. In the one case, the consequences of abstention are merely brief discomfort; in the other, you’ll starve to death over your steeled resolve.
I will freely admit to being an avid Ron Paul supporter. I donated to his campaign, sent emails, posted articles to my social media sites and voted for him in the primary. Neither of the mainline candidates represent what I believe Paul would have meant for this country, and I don’t deny my frustration over the current political forecast. It’s troubling to determine whether to vote for your true favorite – who has no viable chance of victory, or for the “lesser of two evils” – with a legitimate shot at success. The argument can easily be made that when people speculate about “who everyone else will vote for,” the “means” and “end” are manipulated for a skewed result. However, history has clearly shown that a majority of voters will choose from the names provided on the ballot and one of them is going to become president. Remember, we must distinguish idealism from realism in order to cast a sensible, meaningful vote.
Finally, I speak directly to my fellow Paulians when I acknowledge that our R and D options are far from ideal. You and I shared Ron’s visions for returning this country to the limited government and spending intended by our Forefathers, but this just isn’t our year. In reality, a big party candidate will win the election, and one has an agenda that will render America – as we know it – unrecognizable in four years. Will you sleep more soundly knowing that by withholding your vote entirely, you avoided soiling your garments with the “lesser of evils”? Will you observe the impending socio-economic collapse, the surge in homelessness and poverty, and the disintegration of individual liberties while commending yourself for refusing to compromise? And what is ultimately to be gained by boycotting the party nominations and abdicating any voice you could have had in the matter? In the words of a legendary rock band, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Your point will have been made, but America may die of starvation because of it.