What Political Party Best Represents Atheists?

Correct answer: Not the Republicans. Obviously.

Correct answer: Not the Democrats. Unfortunately.

Correct answer: Whatever third party that you care about that no one else cares about.

Back to the Democrats, though. They’re all about the inclusion of God in their platform (even if it’s mild) and the expansion of the office of faith-based initiatives. They love pandering to the religion masses. And, politically, why wouldn’t they? Religious groups have the numbers and those groups come out and vote. There may be millions of Secular Americans out there but good luck getting us to do anything together, including voting for a candidate who isn’t beholden to the Religious Right. If we can’t get our act together, the candidates have every right to ignore us.

But the Democrats are obviously better than the Republicans on our issues and they need our support even if they only throw us a bone every once in a while. If they can find a way to support same-sex marriage, I have hope they can eventually be inclusive of atheists, too… but we have to keep forcing their hand by calling them out on it when they suggest faith is a virtue, promote religion through legislation, or ignore our demographics.

I’m still voting for President Obama and I think you’re wasting your vote if you go for a third party, especially if you live in a swing state. Your “statement” won’t make things any better. Not this year and not with any of the current third party candidates.

That’s the gist of what I said to The Christian Post when they asked me about the future of the atheist vote: Will we continue to support the Democrats despite their faith-y convention? Or will we go to another party?

“The Democrats have done a lot for us, and they’re the only viable option in this election, but even they invoke the Christian God’s name much to the chagrin of secular Americans and other non-Christians.”

Mehta commented that atheists’ best chance of having their voices heard is not to form a third party, but to “educate our current elected officials on our issues and explain to them that religious belief is not something all Americans hold dear or virtuous.”

“I don’t think it’s asking a lot for all politicians to say that atheists are just as much part of the fabric of our society as religious Americans, but too often, that’s politically toxic for them. Our community needs to help change that. For better or for worse, the Democrats continue to be our best option for that change,” he added.

Cue all the comments telling me how voting for [insert your third party candidate here] is going to make a huge difference.

On a related note, the other night, as I was watching the DNC, a lot of atheists on Twitter were complaining about the use of the phrase “God Bless America” by just about all of the Democrats.

In other words, they were complaining about a platitude that the candidates don’t even take very seriously. The politicians say it because they need to in order to get re-elected, not because they don’t care about atheists. It’s like wearing a flag pin — it goes unnoticed by just about everyone when they wear it and it’s a controversy if they don’t.

I care much more about the policies the candidates implement than random insertions of God into their speeches, which is why I said this:

Just to be clear, I’m not saying people should stop complaining about those things — I’m glad atheists are speaking out against even those innocuous statements – but keep it in perspective.

A rhetorical flourish isn’t the same thing as a minor-league theocracy.

Complain about Cardinal Dolan giving an invocation all you want. Complain about the promotion of “faith” in the party platform. But Bill Clinton and Barack Obama saying “God Bless America” at the end of their speeches? Relax. Not a big deal.

We’re a group that is fighting for social acceptance, not legal acceptance, and that means perception is everything. Whether you like it or not, people who aren’t atheist activists just roll their eyes at us when we act like any of this is a big deal. It’s not.

Either sell it better or complain about something more worthy of your energy. Of all the ways religion and government intersect, saying “God Bless You” at the end of a speech is barely a blip on the radar.

(image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Steve K.

    With all due respect, Mr. Mehta,  in the words of Bender the Robot, bite my shiny metal ass. :) There is zero chance of gaining support for third partypolitics without actually getting the numbers. You’re doing some pretty strenuous question-begging to say that not voting for Democrats means we’re “throwing our vote away.” And predicting the existence of comments like mine only means that you’re lampshading your own shoddy reasoning.

    Be smug, by all means. But don’t pretend that the Democrats represent us. They’re just as in bed with banks, god-botherers, and legally-sanctioned murder (i.e., the Pentagon) as the Republicans, and to throw in with them on a single issue is the very definition of a ruinous compromise. Thanks for your propaganda, though. You do us all credit.

  • noyourgod

    It boils down to which party wants to legislate their mythology’s arbitrary tenets, and that is the GOP.

    Yep – the Dems cater and even kowtow to the superstitious, but with the exception of faith based initiatives, don’t write laws stating that everybody must live by those mythological tenets.

    The GOP?  Holy shit – the “small government” party wants to expand government to make sure we follow their superstitions. 

  • http://mittenatheist.blogspot.com/ Kari Lynn

    Did you read the first few sentences of the post? He said that the Democrats do not represent us. Hemant said that they are better on issues that most of us care about.

  • http://twitter.com/ericmitz Eric Mitz

    I lost a whole lot of respect for Mr. Silverman the other night when he threw his little temper tantrum on twitter. Totally uncalled for. Being president of the AA means his words and actions are viewed as a representation of all of us and he made us look like 5 year old children in a toy store who can’t get the toy they want. 

    You have to pick your battles wisely.

  • humanistkristy

    This two party system sucks.  But until we can change the system, I’m going with this:  “Democrats are obviously better than the Republicans on our issues and they need our support even if they only throw us a bone every once in a while”

  • Sfd4304

    I think you’re wasting your vote if you go for a third party”  I think you’re wasting your vote if you vote for someone who doesn’t represent you.  Obama and Romney do not represent me as I disagree with them both on a majority of the issues most important to me.  I have a son who is old enough to begin discussing politics and human rights, and there is no way I could take him with me to vote for Obama or Romney. 

    Also, as a member of a third party, I frequently hear statements like, “I would love to vote for a third party, but then (insert boogie-man candidate here) would win, and “I hate the two-party system, but until it changes, I’ll hold my nose and vote for (insert two-party candidate here).”  So perhaps if more people voted their conscience, a third party candidate could win or the two-party system could change. 

  • Steve K.

     Yes, and did you read the entire rest of the post where he proceeds to negate the sentiment in its entirety with hedging? Ruinous compromise is not made less ruinous because you feel good about compromising.

  • 3lemenope

    Breaking out of a two party system would require much more fundamental changes due to Duverger’s Law, which are likely never to occur because they are directly against the interests of both major parties.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=301700244 facebook-301700244

    The short answer is the Communist Party USA (www.cpusa.org).  However, they work with Democrats to secure vital legislation that helps working-class Americans, rather than run their own candidates in futility.

  • Steve K.

     This is the only sort of reasoning that will lift us from the morass that is modern politics. Holding your nose while wading into a pig wallow doesn’t get you less dirty.

  • http://twitter.com/tkmlac Katie

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. Some months back I would have disagreed; I was cynical, hopeless and just plain tired of the two-party system and broken procedures outlined by the Constitution. However, I’ve seen that a party platform can be changed from the inside out. I’ve worked with Young Democrats and I know that all it takes is for young people to be involved. Ten years ago, the youth vote didn’t count for anything and now it’s an increasingly powerful block. For the first time in history, same-sex marriage is on the party platform and fully endorsed by a sitting President. That’s change I can believe in. No president will ever be able to do everything s/he’s promised on the campaign trail or do everything that any one voter agrees with. Until we have change our system to represent a broader political spectrum (amend the Constitution), we are stuck voting for the person that we hopefully agree with most. And yes, statistically and because of the electoral college, a third party vote is like no vote.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=301700244 facebook-301700244

    Ultimately, the problem with that is the spoiler effect.  There a many people who vote for the Democrats in conscience.  This is the problem with the “Winner Takes All” type of voting system we have.  It inevitably ends with two parties vying for control via a shrinking pool of voters who are disenfranchised with the entire system.  

    More importantly, the electoral college votes for you.  Your votes are used as a measurement of how each elector should vote.  They are, however, a guide, not a rule.  So each elector can vote as he or she chooses.Inevitably, We have no real say in this government unless we rid ourselves of the electoral college, poll taxes, and institute proportional representation through parliamentary processes like what exists in Germany.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.pollei Stephen Pollei
  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.pollei Stephen Pollei

     If third party folks want to be taken a bit more serious, you need to join up and support approval voting or condorcet ..

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I’m more upset with the way the DNC railroaded procedure than with the outcome.  What are the rules for if you’re just going to ignore them?

  • treedweller

    “The United States Bill of Rights
    guarantees freedom of religion. We affirm the right of each
    individual to the exercise of conscience and religion, while
    maintaining the constitutionally mandated separation of government
    and religion. We believe that federal, state, and local governments
    must remain neutral regarding religion.” –Green Party Platform (http://www.gp.org/committees/platform/2012/social-justice.php#religious)

    If a vote for a loser is a wasted vote, I should vote republican. Obama has no chance in Texas. Hold your nose and vote against the worst if you want, but I will vote my conscience. If I lived in a swing state, I would be conflicted. I generally agree with Sfd4304 here, but if I thought I could actually help prevent the election of Romney, I would have to strongly consider it.

    But I am endlessly annoyed by people who say voting for “a third party” is a waste of your vote. Voting is an expression of one’s beliefs and philosophies, and / or a show of support for the candidate you believe in. To vote for the Corporate Party (whether blue or red) is directly in conflict with what I believe is best for our country. That’s a wasted vote. I feel fortunate that I live in Texas, where we already know the outcome. I can support the party of my choice with impunity. Incidentally, Greens (or Libertarians or Socialists or Constitutionists) are not the third party. We have two almost-identical major parties and several minor ones.

    Having said all that, I am impressed with how Obama handled the multiple crises he faced four years ago. I said it then and I will say it now: no way you could have convinced me to take that job. Then I watched the DNC and was impressed that it was (relatively) long on substance and short on lies (in contrast to the “other” convention). I may be one of the few who actually changed my mind based on the convention.

    But probably not. I will probably vote Green, because they agree with me and I agree with them on almost every significant issue. No, they won’t win, but I don’t want to vote for the winner, unless the candidate I support wins. That would be a waste of my vote.

  • sailor

    Judging by their supporters the democrats are clearly a much better bet.  When they bought up that stupid god thing at the convention the hierarchy tried to pass it with a voice vote – twice. Both times they lost, so they lied. Not good, But in a GOP situation if the same question were asked there would not be a single voice heard against.

  • treedweller

     In Texas, at least, a political party cannot get a candidate on the ballot unless some candidate from that party got at least [a few]% in the previous election. A party with names on the ballot has a far better chance than one that can only get write-in votes. I don’t expect Greens to win any posts in this election, but they might gain a little momentum for future elections.

    If we truly cannot ever expect any party to win other than Ds and Rs, I ask you: When was the last time you voted for the Whigs? The Tories? The Bull Mooses?

    The major parties want you to believe what you (and Hemant) wrote, but it just ain’t true. A vote for the status quo means you want and can expect more of the status quo. Don’t view your participation as an isolated event; make your voice heard consistently as an investment in the future. Maybe Greens (Libs, Commies, etc.) still won’t ever win, but Ds might realize they can’t take for granted the votes of those who dislike Rs even more than them.

  • MegaZeusThor

    Hemant, I have to agree with you. Sure platitudes and rhetorical flourishes can be slightly annoying, but whatever. Bigger fish to fry. Somethings will fade in time – or they’ll matter less and less. 

    With regards to a 3rd party – again, I agree with you. There are sound arguments to made regarding gaining support; yet the U.S. seems to be a well entrenched 2 party system.  (Other countries, such a Canada, may be different: The official federal opposition has been: The Liberals, the Progressive Conservatives, the Bloc Quebecois, The Reform Party, The Conservatives and the NDP. The landscape does change a bit, but hey – different system.)

    Sure the U.S. President matters, but so does everyone else getting elected to congress and the Senate. Just something else to focus on.   

    It is annoying for that the democrats have to embrace god as not to expose a possible weakness before an election. If you were a political adviser, what would you recommend strategically?

  • treedweller

      “Democrats are obviously better than the Republicans on our issues” . . . unless “our issues” include reducing the impact of money and corporate interests in our society, or opening access to our government beyond the two-party system, or . . . well, you get the idea. “Our issues” (as I think you mean them), and the differences between the major parties, are really just a blip on the radar compared to most of what the federal government does from day to day. How often does Congress vote on any of the social issues that push many of us to vote with our noses pinched?

    Yes, I know, the next president will probably appoint a few judges. That is true of every election. Sometimes, the pendulum has to swing away from where we want it in order to reveal the importance of having it swing back “our” way.

  • Sami Hawkins

    So perhaps if more people voted their conscience, a third party candidate could win or the two-party system could change. 
    Or far more likely they’d accomplish absolutely nothing except taking votes away from the Democrat candidate like they did in 2000. The rest of us shouldn’t be stuck living under another Bush just so you can prove you’re not one of us mindless sheaple who acknowledge the reality of our system.
    A vote for a third party is practically a vote for the GOP.

  • advancedatheist

    the “small government” party wants to expand government to make sure we follow their superstitions.

    Which “superstitions,” exactly? Every religious conservative politician I know of offers to cut atheists’ taxes, deregulate our businesses, let us buy all the guns and ammo we want, give us freedom of movement and so forth. This shows that they don’t consider us dangers to society.  We live in a godless utopia in a lot of ways. 

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Since we’re talking ‘party’ and not ‘president’, let me share what I did for one race in the primary.

    I’m in California which is a ‘top two primary’ state.  For state assembly we had two Republicans (including the incumbent) and one Democrat.  I’m in a Conservative area where Republicans win with healthy margins.  It was remotely possible that both Republicans could have been 1-2, but unlikely.  The more probably outcome was that at least 1/3 would still vote for the Democrat, and he’d get on the ballot, and would face off against one of the Republicans in the election.

    What that means is that the main race was really in the primary.  That selected which Republican would be in the final, and surely win.

    I considered voting for one of the Republicans just so I could have a say in the lesser of two evils.  But I have a pet peeve.  I have lots of them actually, but one of them is political signs on public property.  They don’t give any real information, they’re an eyesore, they’re litter, they’re just an indication of who can waste more money on lawn signs.  I have no objection to people putting signs on their own lawns to voice their support, but candidates putting signs on road medians, and empty lots, and pretty much anywhere they can bugs the hell out of me.

    So I contacted all three candidates and asked them how many signs they had ordered, so that I could vote for the candidate who made the least.  One Republican ignored me (the incumbent), one replied with some number, but of course could not give the breakdown of private/public property placement, and the Democrat said he didn’t order any because he thinks they’re a waste of resources.

    So I voted Democrat in the primary.  And I told all of them why I did so.  Maybe I can’t get the candidate I want, but maybe I can get the candidate I have to think a little differently.

  • John Purcell

    I don’t really care about politicians paying lip-service to gods. What I care about is when their subservience to their god gets shoved in my direction.

    I don’t really think Democrats have much of a track record of acting, politically, on their god bothering beliefs. They tend to be a laissez-faire crowd when it comes to religion. For instance, the Dems are the party you don’t have to worry about :

    1. Imposing school prayer in schools or other public functions;
    2. Insisting on teaching biblically based beliefs in science class;
    3. Insisting on putting up monuments to the Ten Commandments in the public square;
    4. Insisting on dictating what women do with their bodies, or couples do in their bedroom, based on archaic religious notions;
    5. Pretending that the Founding Fathers were Christian extremists;
    6. Imposing faith based initiatives in order to subsidize their churches, or otherwise try to surmount the Church/State wall of separation;
    6.  etc, etc

    Dems tend to be tolerant of other’s beliefs, including anyone with a lack of belief (for the most part, or at least where it counts) so the Democratic Party, until we become a majority and  have a strong Atheist Party is the proper home for Atheists. Better to work from within it than outside it.

  • treedweller

     I had to argue with my sister a long time before she removed the bible verse from the sig line of her public-school email account. Even then, she resisted until her superintendent told her I was probably right, as a nearby district had recently gotten into legal trouble for similar issues.

    My sister is a liberal democrat who I suspect has never voted republican, ever, in her 45+years, but “there are certain advantages to living in a town with 3000 churches.” Also, her school board regularly opened meetings with prayers. In other words, nobody’s complaining, so why mess up a good thing?

    We only change the status quo when we assert ourselves. One way of doing so is to vote against it.

  • witchgawd

    Go ahead and throw your vote away on one of the 2 big parties. Voting for what you don’t want is sure to get you what you want. Voting for the lesser of 2 evils is still voting for an evil and throwing your vote away. Stating that voting for a 3rd party is throwing your vote away but voting for a party you disagree with isn’t just wreaks of ignorance.

  • treedweller

     No candidate can take my vote away from another. If the democrats want my vote, they have to earn it. They can’t just be slightly better than the worst.

  • witchgawd

    Do everyone a favor and stop voting you ignorant fool.

  • witchgawd

    Please move to Cuba and stop voting.

  • Grammar Moses


  • monyNH

     Which superstitions? How about…
    1. Prayer in school will cure all social ills
    2. Comprehensive sex education will lead to an overall rise in sluttiness and STDs
    3. So will access to affordable family planning services
    4. Gay marriage will erode all marriages
    5. Cell cluster = infant
    6. Climate change is a hoax
    7. Evolution and intelligent design are equally valid
    8. The US is ordained by god, therefore it can do whatever the hell it wants in the world

    And finally, the biggest superstition of all…trickle-down economics–fucked up prosperity gospel on steroids.

  • monyNH

     I saw an ad for Green candidate Jill Stein on Logo last night–pretty funny ad! I was happy to see a third party getting airtime.

  • Sfd4304

    Actually, as a recovering fundie-baptist Republican, my third party vote is “taking a vote away” from Romney.

  • C Peterson

    There are times when it is “safe” to vote for a third party- when the end result of either the Republican or Democrat being elected will be similar. This isn’t a year like that. This year, the consequences of not voting for Obama are likely to be very, very grim. This is a year where a vote for a third party candidate very likely does mean throwing away your vote.

  • http://twitter.com/savage1267 Robert W Edwards

    It’s true! Plus, it’s like all the anti-science talk.  Simply put, if you have to lie to make your point, your point isn’t worth making.
    Or should we put scientists in jail for disagreeing with the poop; eh: “pope”.

  • 3lemenope

    It depends a great deal on where one lives. For example, I live in Rhode Island. Rhode Island, barring unprecedented upheaval and/or calamity, will give its electoral votes to the democrat running by the largest margin of any state in the country, as it has the past ten elections. Thus, I and my fellow Rhode Islanders have rather a great deal of leeway to vote our consciences through third party balloting, since the chances of the election results being affected are approximately nil.

    The moral calculus for a third party vote in a swing state, on the other hand, is quite a bit different.

  • http://twitter.com/savage1267 Robert W Edwards

    Kind of an ignorant jerk much, wg?
    I mean, really?

  • http://twitter.com/savage1267 Robert W Edwards

    Eric: can you please link me to … further reading?

  • Houndentenor

    It’s unfortunate that you used the word “unfortunate” in reference to the Democrats.  They are more pluralistic in their theism, but just as theistic.  The best you can say for the Dems in that regard is that Obama once made reference to people who were notheists in a speech as having rights just like everyone else.  That’s great.  But they are going to invoke a deity as often as is convenient and advantageous just like the GOP.  The wording and purpose may be different, but the cynical pandering is about the same.  I’m a Democrat but I don’t expect them to become the party of the nonbelievers any time soon.  They do, after all, want to win elections.  I also suspect as many Democrats are sincerely religious as Republicans. Republicans are just more likely to make a big show out of it.  (See also: Pharisees)

  • Sami Hawkins

    And how exactly am I the ‘ignorant fool’? The US is currently a two-party system. Their is absolutely no chance of a third party winning this election. Your choices are between Romney and Obama. If you don’t vote or throw your vote away on a third party because the Demcorats haven’t ‘earned’ your vote all your doing is making it easier for the Republicans to win.
    Ya’ll can circlejerk all day about how your special snowflakes because you vote for parties with no chance whatsoever of winning the election. If Romney wins you’ll be just as responsible for it as the people who voted GOP.

  • L.Long

    I have thought on this and have to agree with Mehta and most of the commentators.  But I am going to vote 3rd party as a way of saying ‘listen up demoncrats and repuckians.’  The reason is that they have BOTH worked with the power/money psychopaths to help ruin this country.  Vote for the repuckians and the demoncrats will fight to prevent anything EXCEPT what aids their power base.  Vote for the demoncrts and the repuckians will fight to prevent anything EXCEPT what aids their power base.  So we end up with NOTHING important being accomplish in the end.  So bite the bullet and vote 3rd party to send a message and who knows the religidiots say miracles happen.

  • JMB

    Meh.  I live in Arizona, which is super Republican AND super Mormon.  No way in hell I’d vote for Romney, but a vote for Obama OR a third party would both mean nothing here.  So, I’ll most likely be voting for Gary Johnson.

  • 3lemenope

    **…it rhymes with leeks. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1206146363 Kathleen O’Shaughnessy

    If you aren’t in a swing state, to vote against what you believe by supporting the Democrats is wasting your vote. A million extra Obama votes in Illinois is not going to change a thing in Ohio. But giving those votes to a third part can help them to qualify for matching funds and to participate in debates and that CAN change discourse.

    I can understand the “support the lesser evil” mantra in a place where the race is close, but when you know who is going to get those electoral votes, there’s no reason not to vote for what you want.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1206146363 Kathleen O’Shaughnessy

    Suggesting that Obama won’t win Illinois is like suggesting that Richard J. Daley could have lost a Chicago Mayoral election to a Republican. It’s not going to happen. Adding to his margin of victory won’t change anything in another state.  But given that we know Obama will get these 20 votes, there’s no reason for me to NOT support a third party so that they can participate in debates and open the range of discussion in the next election.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1206146363 Kathleen O’Shaughnessy

     The only place where the spoiler effect can even be a consideration is in a swing state.  Heck, my Congresswoman got 66% of the vote in the last election. If the Green candidate took half of “her” votes, the Republican still would have lost.

    So why should I be voting for someone who doesn’t reflect my beliefs again?

  • Chris

    I was a little upset when Rep. Gabby Giffords and the DNC Chair reited the Pledge and said “one nation under god…”. It didn’t really hit me till the President said we are all “citizens”.  How can that be? How am I, as a non believer in any christian god, to feel like a “citizen”.  I got flashbacks to H.W. Bush when he said he wasn’t sure if atheist shoud be considered as citizens.  I voted for Obama last time but now I have my doubts if I will support him again.  He and his people just told me that I am not a citizen.

  • humanistkristy

    Good point.  I would consider voting green party if I weren’t in NC.  

  • Destry

    3 more conservative justices means we’re fucked for another generation. Obama will appoint justices that are at least in the center, if not left.

  • humanistkristy

    I don’t see it as ignorance.  I see it as a logical step in a long series of steps to make changes.  The dems want to overturn citizens united.  We don’t have a fighting chance against the 2 party system as long as citizens united stands.

  • Sfd4304

    The only reference I have found for Gary Johnson and religion: “A person and their religion is something that is personal.  Religion should not be a part of government – any leader that says they’re getting their directions from god is someone I’m concerned about”  http://altvariety.com/interview-with-gary-johnson-the-other-presidential-nominee/

  • A3Kr0n

    Both Democrats and Republicans endorse murdering people that are no threat to us, and in that regard I will not vote for either party. Your vote is only “wasted” if you don’t vote.

  • DaveDodo007

    Fuck you yanks up your own stupid asses. Not only do your politicians believe fairy tales are true but your atheists are up their own asses with their PC bullshit. Seriously do the world a favour and just fuck off.  How can a western democracy continue to get everything a 100% wrong. That takes a seriously fucked up mentality. You really are the dumbest democracy on the planet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1206146363 Kathleen O’Shaughnessy

    Only people in swing states have any reason to even consider “lesser-of-two-evilsism”. If you are in Arizona, Vermont or anywhere else where the winner is a foregone conclusion, you might as well vote your beliefs. A third party doesn’t have to win to make a difference. When a third party gets enough votes they get matching funds and can participate in debates. That’s enough to be able to influence discourse at a greater level.

    I’d be thrilled if Democrats started trying to “steal” my vote.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1206146363 Kathleen O’Shaughnessy

    I’m surprised that anyone in Chicago is falling for “lesser-of-two-evilsism”. It’s not remotely likely that Obama could lose Illinois, and if things got to that point, he’d most likely have already lost all hope of winning in the rest of the country.  

    In a non-swing state, there’s no reason not to vote for whichever candidate best reflects your beliefs. A million extra Illinois votes for Obama won’t change what happens in Ohio. But 5% of the vote would earn a third party matching funds and a place at the debates and that would be enough to affect political discourse. You don’t have to win an election to change what is covered in the press and what ideas are being discussed – look at the power held by fundamentalist Christians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1206146363 Kathleen O’Shaughnessy

     Given that Hemant is in Illinois, a Obama’s heavily Democratic home state, the consequences of voting for a third party are that it might get federal matching funds in the next election. That’s about it.  Suggesting that Obama could lose Illinois’ 20 electoral votes is like suggesting that Richard J. Daley could have lost a Chicago mayoral election to a Republican.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1206146363 Kathleen O’Shaughnessy

    If you are in Vermont, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma or any other state where the fate of your electoral votes are pretty much set, there are no consequences to voting third party except for maybe qualifying for federal matching funds in the next election. Romney’s never gonna win Vermont. Obama’s never going to win Oklahoma. If you are in a swing state, maybe you have a point. But for folks in the 40 states that aren’t swing states, it’s not as if you have any say in the horse race anyway.

  • Amakudari

    Yeah, about that whole “throwing your vote away” deal:

    Your vote won’t decide a major election. Period. Any economist will tell you that voting with the idea that you’re actually picking a president or senator or mayor is irrational behavior. If you’re just straight-ticket voting each election, even if your candidate does win by a hair in your swing state, you’re not the marginal vote. It’s those marginal voters, those who might not vote for you otherwise, who drive close elections. I expect a skeptic to understand this. Your vote’s value is in its personal worth to you as a civic duty or statement of principle.

    In any case, the best way to guarantee your vote is thrown away is to have no standards for giving it out. On most of the issues I care about—like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the War on Drugs, government transparency, privacy, banking reform, addressing long-term entitlement solvency—Democrats aren’t much better than Republicans and have in some disappointing cases been worse. If they want my vote, be better than Republicans plus an error term. It’s not that hard; the Administration didn’t have to set records in marijuana dispensary raids or FOIA denials. They didn’t have to endorse the extrajudicial killing of a US citizen (or the killings of cities-full of non-US citizens).

    So look, my vote’s there for the taking. Credibly demonstrate a real commitment to the things I care about and it’s yours, dear Major Party. Otherwise, I’m not going to throw my vote away.

  • witchgawd

    *face palm^
    I guess some people will never “get it”. I don’t want 4 more years under Obama nor do I want 4 years of Romney. Ergo, I will vote for who I want, not the candidate I despise least. How do you people not understand that by voting for the lesser of 2 evils is still voting for an evil? My faith in the human race wains more and more when I read posts like this. Just stay home if that’s your rational for not voting for a 3rd party candidate. Ugh!

  • witchgawd

    And with your brand of faulty logic it will remain a 2 party system because sheep like you are to afraid to go against the status quo. You’re going to sit there and claim that by voting for someone you don’t want as POTUS is not throwing your vote away. Put down the bong and step away son.

  • witchgawd

    Communist party? Ya, your argument, calling me names, is real sound. Go get a job and move out of your mom’s basement.

  • C Peterson

    I understand that the lesser of two evils is still an evil. But I’m enough of a realist to recognize that in a situation where one of those evils is absolutely guaranteed to happen, I’m better off with the lesser of them. Where the two evils are not all that different in magnitude, making a statement by selecting a third option is very rational. I don’t see this year like that. For me, Obama isn’t an evil at all, simply nowhere near as good as I’d hoped. Romney is genuinely an evil. So I’m voting for a disappointment to avoid a disaster.

  • C Peterson

    Yes, you’re quite right. Due to our unfortunate electoral system the state you live in does matter.

    I’m in Colorado, a distinctly purple state. So voting for a third party candidate here is essentially equivalent to voting for the major party candidate you’d least like to see win.

  • DreadPirateRogers

    Not to make one of “the comments telling me how voting for [insert your third party candidate here] is going to make a huge difference.” But, “I think you’re wasting your vote if you go for a third party,
    especially if you live in a swing state. Your “statement” won’t make
    things any better. ” is why voting for third parties doesn’t work. Since everyone who might vote for a third party thinks this way, there’ll never be enough people voting third party to make a difference. The hope isn’t that a third party will win as much as it is that enough people will vote third party to make the big two realize that people are sick of their crap and clean their own houses.

  • Concerned Citizen

    The GOP used to be the spoiler third party.

    Didn’t they teach you that in school? Wonder why not? ;)

  • The Other Weirdo

     Says the person claiming that the answer is the Communist Party of the USA.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Why ignorant?

  • Jesusdoppelganger

    Rhetorical flourish? (re: ‘god bless America’ by politicians)

    Hardly.  These innocuous flourishes have a way of accumulating into a body of ‘evidence’ that supports the myth of America as a xtian nation.  

    Sorry, I don’t accept their innocence any more than I accept the idea of practicing ‘ceremonial deism’ by legislative prayer.

  • Jesusdoppelganger

    Well said.  I have a certain admiration for people who vote for 3rd party candidates; but without the numbers, it’s a statement.

    What is an ideal candidate for atheists anyway?  Are we that uniform in our values and preferences?  We all place different weight on what secular issues are most important to us.

  • Bilbo

    Actually the Republicans are the better choice this time.  Barack Obama has taken to usurping the constitution, and is directly violating our freedoms of and from religion.  Since Democrats regularly ignore the freedoms of the people, you are better off voting Republican.  The Republicans are compromised of mostly Christians, but they are also willing to support the rule of law.  This means the Republicans support the first amendment and will enforce both the non-establishment clause, and the freedom clause with regards to religion.  The direction the Democrats seem to be moving is to ban religions they don’t like, and seem to want to force upon all of us the one religion they do like, which at the moment is Islam.

  • noyourgod

     “And finally, the biggest superstition of all…trickle-down economics–fucked up prosperity gospel on steroids.”

    Dang – wish I had thought of writing that (as well as the rest of your list).

  • Latice

    Just because you claim there is no God doesn’t mean your views should be forced on the rest of us.  Second point, this country was founded on the notion that there is one God and guess what?  If you don’t like it, you have every right to move yourself to a goldless nation that happily accept your views. Because when the US denies God…that’s when I’m moving out.

    God bless,

  • Litesp33d

    Politicians will tell you that they are interested in whatever it is you are interested in BUT in reality the ONLY thing they are interested in is VOTES. The first job of a politician is to get re-elected. All will therefore chase the people they think will vote. Therefore if atheists, Humanist or whatever shade of non religionist you are it is essential to work together to get the politicians to recognise that
    1) atheists vote
    2) they are not going to vote for religious candidates
    At the moment the Republicans are hog tied to the religious right. It therefore follows that the best route for non religious votes is the Democrats not some nebulous protest vote 3rd party. Given this is so it is essential to write to and pressure in all ways possible those Democrats who will listen that is how atheists will vote and keep voting. Then and only when the Reps keep losing will the stranglehold of religion be broken from US politics. It will take 10 years but with a united front it can be done. It must be done.