It’s that time again: Presidential election season. Every four years, I’ve endured an onslaught of lectures about why I need to vote for the GOP candidate. Aside from a single lapse in judgment, I’ve never done it though.
It sure sounds compelling; if you don’t vote directly for the GOP candidate, You’re voting indirectly for the Democrat. Never mind that the same logic could be used to demonstrate that a third party vote is an indirect vote for the Republican, logic is hard.
Every election I’ve paid attention to brings with it a slew of political junkies rehashing the same old tired arguments, usually accompanied by rhetoric suggesting that if you don’t vote exactly as the junky tells you to, you’re a horrible person.
Usually, they have an answer for every argument that can be made to the contrary, no matter how compelling or logical.
This year I’ve been making a new argument, and no one, anywhere, seems to have a counter argument for it. Most won’t even acknowledge that they understand it. Thus the reason for this post.
My argument stems from the situation here in my home state of Minnesota. You see, Minnesota has consistently been won by the Democrat candidate in every election since 1976. When every other state in the union went to Ronald Reagan in 1984, Minnesota was joined only by the District of Columbia in handing electoral college votes to Walter Mondale. It was a blood bath, and though Minnesota will never collectively admit it, it was embarrased in 1984.
So what’s my point? Let’s take a step back and just acknowledge the elephant in the room from that (and every other) election; that we don’t have one national election for President. We have 50 state and one district election that each sends delegates to the Electoral College, and it’s the Electoral College that votes for the President. 538 people, selected by the voters of their state, do the actual voting for President.
Here’s a short video by Prager University that explains it.
So what difference does that make in how I vote, or how you vote? That’s the really ironic part. Ironic, because the Prager in Prager University is Dennis Prager, Conservative radio talk show host. Ironic because Dennis Prager lives in Southern California. Ironic because Dennis Prager is one of those junkies I mentioned earlier who suggests that if you don’t vote for the GOP candidate, you’re a horrible person. Ironic because no matter how Dennis Prager votes, his state (California) will award it’s 55 Electors to Hillary Clinton. It’s not expected to even be close. At the time of this writing, Real Clear Politics, which tracks the averages of several reputable polls, has Clinton ahead by nearly 20% in California.
So let’s go back to Minnesota, my own home state. Like I said, Minnesota last sent Republican electors to the Electoral College in 1972. Richard Nixon was the last Republican candidate for President to win the North Star State.
So what does that have to do with how I vote? Well, it has a lot to do with how I vote, actually. You see, I mentioned earlier that, with one exception, I have never voted for the Republican candidate for President. It wouldn’t have mattered if I did, either. Had I, and every other person who voted for a Conservative third party candidate voted, instead, for the Republican; the Democrat still would have won Minnesota. And If every Conservative in California votes for Donald Trump in two weeks, Hillary Clinton will still win that state’s 55 Electors.
Instead of voting for the Republican, I have always voted for the candidate that I actually like best. Why not? Many people will say that’s a wasted vote; but what does it mean to waste your vote? If you ask me, voting for someone you don’t like, just because he’s running for one of the two major parties and is less repugnant than the other major party candidate, even if that candidate can’t win your state’s Electoral votes is the very definition of a wasted vote.
The important thing to understand here, the very point of this blog article, is that the Electoral College matters. It’s not just a civics exercise; just academics, it actually matters. As a Minnesota Conservative who doesn’t like Donald Trump, voting for Donald Trump would be a wasted vote.
Let’s look at another state though. Minnesota and California are solidly Democratic states (at least in their preference for Presidential candidates.) But what about Ohio, or Florida? Those two states (and others) have been “swing states” for quite some time. In swing states, voting for the “lesser evil” candidate can make a real difference in how the Electors from those states are awarded. By not voting for the Republican candidate, you might give the Democrat Candidate the opportunity to win the state with one fewer vote than he (or she in the case of this particular election cycle) would otherwise need. With all of the efforts that Democrats typically put into “Get out the vote” drives, this can be a big help to their cause.
If I lived in Ohio, I would probably hold my nose and vote for Donald Trump. When people question me, I would probably give a logical and conscientious reason why voting for the “lesser evil” is what my conscience instructs me to do.
What about solidly Conservative states? States like Texas and Arizona have been consistent wins for the Republican candidate as long as I’ve been old enough to vote. What would I do there? Again, I would strongly consider casting a “lesser of two evils” vote. States move from Conservative states to swing states without warning, and from swing states to Liberal states with equal warning. Don’t take your neighbors for granted and assume that they will cover for you, vote as though you were in a swing state because you just might be and not know it yet. If your conscience still says that you cannot vote for a man with poor character, then vote for the candidate who has the character necessary to earn your vote.
So you’re probably wondering just who I will vote for in two weeks. To be honest, I haven’t decided. Perhaps I’ll do another post sometime explaining my thinking this time around. We shall see.