On voting for a third party candidate

In a comment on the “It’s Romney” post, which sparked a discussion on whether voting for a third party candidate is “throwing your vote away,” Todd made an interesting and rather compelling argument that I think deserves a post of its own:

I feel like the people who mock third-party candidates are akin to those who play chess by refusing to consider anything but the current move. That is to say, they rule out any long-term strategy by focusing solely on the short term. I.e. “What is the best move you can make now to improve things immediately after that move?” But, of course, that isn’t always the best strategy, either in politics or chess.

In the world of economics, we speak with our purchases. You can hate on McDonald’s all day long, mocking them to your friends and on Facebook, but if you still eat there, if you still pay them, McDonald’s doesn’t really care.

It’s the same with politics. To the degree that political parties and politicians hear anything from the average person, they hear our vote (I’m cynical enough to realize that what they really listen to is money, but that’s a different topic). So if you go on and on in blog comments about how Romney isn’t all that conservative, he wasn’t the best possible candidate, and so on … and then you still vote for Romney, here’s what the Republican Party will hear: you liked Romney.

Don’t be too surprised, then, if you get more candidates like Romney in the Republican Party. Because they know that, even though you claim to like fiscal (or whatever) conservatism, you’ll still vote for the Republican, regardless. There’s no market force, as it were, to push the party in the direction of actual fiscal conservatism — they’ll get what they want from you, either way.

Yes, denying them your vote and voting third-party might lead to a temporal gain for the other major party you really don’t like. But, if the third-party votes are significant enough — if the GOP sees that it can’t actually count on your vote no matter how lousy the candidate — then they might actually have to deal with that by straightening up their act.

Such a chastened party might then actually run a candidate you approve of. But you’d have to play the long game to find out.

And most voters refuse to play the long game.

First of all, do you agree, and, if not, how would you answer him?  Second, what ARE some third parties with candidates that might be worth voting for?  I know of the Libertarians, the Greens, and the Constitution Party.  Can anyone speak to their candidates, or have they been chosen yet?  I heard Roseanne Barr is running for the Green Party nomination.  When voting to make a point, do the candidates matter since you don’t have to worry about their actually getting elected?  And are there some better third parties than those?  (And by my count, there are more than three.)  Is there a Distributivist Party, a Monarchist Party, a Two Kingdoms Party?  I realize that if such parties exist, they aren’t likely to get on the state ballot.  There is that bi-partisan party whose candidates will be selected via the internet.   If any of you are sold on some other party, feel free to make your case.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I believe firmly in third party votes, for sake of conscience if nothing else.

    The lesser of two evils is still evil.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I believe firmly in third party votes, for sake of conscience if nothing else.

    The lesser of two evils is still evil.

  • Michael B.

    Here’s the major problem with Todd’s McDonald’s analogy: In order for me to influence McDonald’s by me not eating there, I have to have a demand whose implementation wouldn’t drive away more customers than it brings in. For example, if me and a large number of people refuse to eat at McDonald’s and instead go to Burger King instead because McDonald’s refuses to offer diet soda, then it’s only a matter of time until McDonald’s offers diet soda. If on the other hand, I refuse to go to McDonald’s because I’m an ultra vegan and I believe it’s wrong to sell meat, then there is no way McDonald’s can accommodate me. Many on this forum have no idea how far-right they are and how completely unaccommodating their demands are. For example, they want to do away with Medicare and abortion. That’s simply not going to happen. Any serious politician running is going to be pro-medicare and pro-choice, and hopefully try to trick you with a few soundbites and token legislation suggesting otherwise.

  • Michael B.

    Here’s the major problem with Todd’s McDonald’s analogy: In order for me to influence McDonald’s by me not eating there, I have to have a demand whose implementation wouldn’t drive away more customers than it brings in. For example, if me and a large number of people refuse to eat at McDonald’s and instead go to Burger King instead because McDonald’s refuses to offer diet soda, then it’s only a matter of time until McDonald’s offers diet soda. If on the other hand, I refuse to go to McDonald’s because I’m an ultra vegan and I believe it’s wrong to sell meat, then there is no way McDonald’s can accommodate me. Many on this forum have no idea how far-right they are and how completely unaccommodating their demands are. For example, they want to do away with Medicare and abortion. That’s simply not going to happen. Any serious politician running is going to be pro-medicare and pro-choice, and hopefully try to trick you with a few soundbites and token legislation suggesting otherwise.

  • Steve Billingsley

    On the surface, Todd is right – but as always in politics, the devil is in the details. Voting Third Party as a protest vote, without really paying much attention to who that candidate is or what he or she stands for, simply to send a message to the two major parties – is spitting into the wind. Playing the long game in politics to me is less about a strategic protest vote in a presidential election than it is about getting involved in the local, precinct level political actions of one of the two major parties or being involved in a third party at the local level whose beliefs and positions you can support.

    The long game in politics is less about politics than it is about culture. I think that politics is a lagging indicator of culture. The reason that our politics seem so degraded is that our culture is that way. Changing the world, or changing a culture is not about this election, or next one. It is generational and it begins in one’s heart and one’s home. I think that much of the frustration with Romney (or Obama or whoever is the candidate de jour) is misplaced. They are what they are. I will place my vote for who I think is the best candidate available to me at the time (primary or general election). But I don’t pretend that me casting a vote is anything more than fulfilling a civic privilege and responsibility. I don’t change the world with my vote. I do more good in the world when I love my wife and my children, act as a good neighbor in my community and give of my time and resources to ministry that affects people’s lives with the love of God.

    A couple of other thoughts (I know this isn’t a particularly coherent or systematic comment – just scattered thoughts). As unsatisfying as the candidates in this election might seem – truly great candidates are rare. Look through the list of the 44 Presidents that we have had thus far. How many of them were truly great? No more than a handful. There are a lot more Fillmores and Garfields than there are Washingtons and Lincolns. Romney (assuming he ends up with the nomination) and Obama don’t seem to be, in my opinion, singularly horrible or great. They are just right in the big middle of politicians that we have all dealt with in history.

    Finally, we do have more influence than we think beyond a vote. We are commanded to pray for our leaders and I wonder how often we do that with genuine hearts. We can influence our leaders every day, not with our own views or agendas, but with God’s grace when we pray for them. I am reminded that when William Wilberforce was laboring for the abolition of British slavery, one of his political allies was Charles Fox, who by all accounts was a first-rate scoundrel but was all the same moved in his heart to work with Wilberforce. We don’t know what is really in the heart of any of our leaders. We may like or dislike them or their policies – but at any given time, they might be on the side of the angels on a particular issue and, like Cyrus the Persian, could be part of a great movement of God’s purposes in the world.

    That is a long and meandering comment I know – but I think we get way too worked up about the short-term inside baseball of politics and need to remember that we have the responsibility to pray, be informed and choose the best that we possibly can – by God’s grace with the humble understanding that we don’t know it all.

  • Steve Billingsley

    On the surface, Todd is right – but as always in politics, the devil is in the details. Voting Third Party as a protest vote, without really paying much attention to who that candidate is or what he or she stands for, simply to send a message to the two major parties – is spitting into the wind. Playing the long game in politics to me is less about a strategic protest vote in a presidential election than it is about getting involved in the local, precinct level political actions of one of the two major parties or being involved in a third party at the local level whose beliefs and positions you can support.

    The long game in politics is less about politics than it is about culture. I think that politics is a lagging indicator of culture. The reason that our politics seem so degraded is that our culture is that way. Changing the world, or changing a culture is not about this election, or next one. It is generational and it begins in one’s heart and one’s home. I think that much of the frustration with Romney (or Obama or whoever is the candidate de jour) is misplaced. They are what they are. I will place my vote for who I think is the best candidate available to me at the time (primary or general election). But I don’t pretend that me casting a vote is anything more than fulfilling a civic privilege and responsibility. I don’t change the world with my vote. I do more good in the world when I love my wife and my children, act as a good neighbor in my community and give of my time and resources to ministry that affects people’s lives with the love of God.

    A couple of other thoughts (I know this isn’t a particularly coherent or systematic comment – just scattered thoughts). As unsatisfying as the candidates in this election might seem – truly great candidates are rare. Look through the list of the 44 Presidents that we have had thus far. How many of them were truly great? No more than a handful. There are a lot more Fillmores and Garfields than there are Washingtons and Lincolns. Romney (assuming he ends up with the nomination) and Obama don’t seem to be, in my opinion, singularly horrible or great. They are just right in the big middle of politicians that we have all dealt with in history.

    Finally, we do have more influence than we think beyond a vote. We are commanded to pray for our leaders and I wonder how often we do that with genuine hearts. We can influence our leaders every day, not with our own views or agendas, but with God’s grace when we pray for them. I am reminded that when William Wilberforce was laboring for the abolition of British slavery, one of his political allies was Charles Fox, who by all accounts was a first-rate scoundrel but was all the same moved in his heart to work with Wilberforce. We don’t know what is really in the heart of any of our leaders. We may like or dislike them or their policies – but at any given time, they might be on the side of the angels on a particular issue and, like Cyrus the Persian, could be part of a great movement of God’s purposes in the world.

    That is a long and meandering comment I know – but I think we get way too worked up about the short-term inside baseball of politics and need to remember that we have the responsibility to pray, be informed and choose the best that we possibly can – by God’s grace with the humble understanding that we don’t know it all.

  • Tom Hering

    Michael B. @ 2, Burger King has a veggie burger on the menu. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    Michael B. @ 2, Burger King has a veggie burger on the menu. :-)

  • Michael B.

    @Tom@4

    “Burger King has a veggie burger on the menu”

    The person is my example is going much further than demanding a vegetarian option. He is demanding that McDonald’s not sell any meat, because he believes slaughtering any animal is wrong. What can McDonald’s do other than completely write this person off? Maybe McDonald’s can add this-or-that restriction on slaughtering animals or make an occasional PR speech against it, but McDonald’s hands are effectively tied. It’s impossible for McDonald’s to accommodate this person without alienating the rest of its customers.

  • Michael B.

    @Tom@4

    “Burger King has a veggie burger on the menu”

    The person is my example is going much further than demanding a vegetarian option. He is demanding that McDonald’s not sell any meat, because he believes slaughtering any animal is wrong. What can McDonald’s do other than completely write this person off? Maybe McDonald’s can add this-or-that restriction on slaughtering animals or make an occasional PR speech against it, but McDonald’s hands are effectively tied. It’s impossible for McDonald’s to accommodate this person without alienating the rest of its customers.

  • http://no-consent.org/category/radical-cooperation/ Josh Hanson

    I’ll preface my comment by admitting that I’m a county chairman of the Libertarian Party, but this post explains exactly why I became a Libertarian and what I see in third parties throughout history. What troubles me about many third parties, however, including my own, is their insistence on supporting their candidate at all costs. For example, Ron Paul is the most libertarian Republican candidate I’ve seen in decades, but the Libertarian Party has an official position that they will not support him, and will still run a candidate against him if he somehow gets the Republican nomination. That kind of mentality is just as short-sighted in my view, and puts short-term partisan success over the long-term battle for ideas.

    As for the Libertarian Party, we won’t choose a Presidential candidate until our convention in May. I don’t agree with everything each candidate believes, but what I do agree with in each of them is that they believe that very little should be decided at a national level. They believe in local control, parental and family responsibility, etc. They’re not running to push new activist agendas, but to roll back the centralized state to encourage people to take responsibility for their own communities, etc. As long as that’s the case, I can overlook certain areas of philosophical disagreement in cases of people I would never vote for in more local races.

  • http://no-consent.org/category/radical-cooperation/ Josh Hanson

    I’ll preface my comment by admitting that I’m a county chairman of the Libertarian Party, but this post explains exactly why I became a Libertarian and what I see in third parties throughout history. What troubles me about many third parties, however, including my own, is their insistence on supporting their candidate at all costs. For example, Ron Paul is the most libertarian Republican candidate I’ve seen in decades, but the Libertarian Party has an official position that they will not support him, and will still run a candidate against him if he somehow gets the Republican nomination. That kind of mentality is just as short-sighted in my view, and puts short-term partisan success over the long-term battle for ideas.

    As for the Libertarian Party, we won’t choose a Presidential candidate until our convention in May. I don’t agree with everything each candidate believes, but what I do agree with in each of them is that they believe that very little should be decided at a national level. They believe in local control, parental and family responsibility, etc. They’re not running to push new activist agendas, but to roll back the centralized state to encourage people to take responsibility for their own communities, etc. As long as that’s the case, I can overlook certain areas of philosophical disagreement in cases of people I would never vote for in more local races.

  • Dan Kempin

    The chess analogy is good, but the point under discussion is not one of strategy, but of the rules. You cannot insist that your knight can move FIVE spaces, and then refuse to play because your opponent will not accept it.

    To those concerned for change within the party, here’s the thing: That fight takes place in the primary. That’s what a primary is FOR. By the time the general election comes, there is no longer a debate about the party platform. It is down to a choice of two.

    The 2008 campaign was lost to the republicans in the primary.

    The 2012 MAY have been lost to them in the primary as well.

    But that doesn’t take away from the fact that not voting in the general, or voting for a candidate that you know is marginal, is an irrational act. I saw this temper tantrum among disgusted conservatives in 2006. They executed this precise strategy to “send a message” to the republican leadership by not turning out, and we got a democrat majority. I’m still trying to figure out how that helped.

    Or take a stroll down memory lane to the days of Ross Perot–a much more viable candidate than any third party has today. The strategy of taking the republican fight to the general, instead of keeping it in the primary, split the conservative majority and elected Bill Clinton. Another victory for long term strategy.

    By all means stand on your principles and seek wisdom, but also understand how it works. In the general election, the other options have been eliminated. If you refuse to support the candidate you think is better at that point, then you are by default supporting their opponent.

  • Dan Kempin

    The chess analogy is good, but the point under discussion is not one of strategy, but of the rules. You cannot insist that your knight can move FIVE spaces, and then refuse to play because your opponent will not accept it.

    To those concerned for change within the party, here’s the thing: That fight takes place in the primary. That’s what a primary is FOR. By the time the general election comes, there is no longer a debate about the party platform. It is down to a choice of two.

    The 2008 campaign was lost to the republicans in the primary.

    The 2012 MAY have been lost to them in the primary as well.

    But that doesn’t take away from the fact that not voting in the general, or voting for a candidate that you know is marginal, is an irrational act. I saw this temper tantrum among disgusted conservatives in 2006. They executed this precise strategy to “send a message” to the republican leadership by not turning out, and we got a democrat majority. I’m still trying to figure out how that helped.

    Or take a stroll down memory lane to the days of Ross Perot–a much more viable candidate than any third party has today. The strategy of taking the republican fight to the general, instead of keeping it in the primary, split the conservative majority and elected Bill Clinton. Another victory for long term strategy.

    By all means stand on your principles and seek wisdom, but also understand how it works. In the general election, the other options have been eliminated. If you refuse to support the candidate you think is better at that point, then you are by default supporting their opponent.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD’s argument is, in my opinion, valid. Of course, perhaps I am saying that simply because I almost always write-in or vote third party. To the naysayers in this thread and elsewhere, whose sundry objections reduce to the assertion that one must select the lesser of two (and only two!) evils–or else you are [unpatriotic, voting for the opponent, etc.]–there is a simple response: statistically, one’s vote literally doesn’t matter at all.

    In fact, that is my one quibble with tODD’s otherwise fine argument: the party doesn’t “hear” your vote or mine. It only hears things in the aggregate, which is a tremendous problem with mass democracy. Elections only provide the illusion of choice–the illusion a) that we have meaningful choices between candidates who are more similar than different and b) that it actually matters in any substantive way if we make a choice between those two non-options by voting. The only elections in which your individual vote could possibly matter, statistically speaking, are local school board/city council/etc. elections, and sometimes not even then.

    So I can simplify tODD’s argument: you might as well vote your conscience, because it doesn’t matter. You’re not voting for your opponent in any meaningful sense by doing so. You’re not being unpatriotic. And if you want to be optimistic about it, you can hope that enough people will also vote their consciences such that some diversity can be injected into our monochromatic mass electoral landscape.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD’s argument is, in my opinion, valid. Of course, perhaps I am saying that simply because I almost always write-in or vote third party. To the naysayers in this thread and elsewhere, whose sundry objections reduce to the assertion that one must select the lesser of two (and only two!) evils–or else you are [unpatriotic, voting for the opponent, etc.]–there is a simple response: statistically, one’s vote literally doesn’t matter at all.

    In fact, that is my one quibble with tODD’s otherwise fine argument: the party doesn’t “hear” your vote or mine. It only hears things in the aggregate, which is a tremendous problem with mass democracy. Elections only provide the illusion of choice–the illusion a) that we have meaningful choices between candidates who are more similar than different and b) that it actually matters in any substantive way if we make a choice between those two non-options by voting. The only elections in which your individual vote could possibly matter, statistically speaking, are local school board/city council/etc. elections, and sometimes not even then.

    So I can simplify tODD’s argument: you might as well vote your conscience, because it doesn’t matter. You’re not voting for your opponent in any meaningful sense by doing so. You’re not being unpatriotic. And if you want to be optimistic about it, you can hope that enough people will also vote their consciences such that some diversity can be injected into our monochromatic mass electoral landscape.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    The problem with his logic is the power of the presidency. If you effectively vote for Obama, you give him the chance to put a couple more justices on the Supreme Court. That can affect this country for a generation, if not a century. (Once again, the politization of the court makes things far more complicated than they need to be.)

    His argument also assumes the GOP “leaders” are brighter than they actually are.

    If you want to change the choices the GOP offers, get more involved in the primary level. A “protest vote” in November gives far too much power to the other side.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    The problem with his logic is the power of the presidency. If you effectively vote for Obama, you give him the chance to put a couple more justices on the Supreme Court. That can affect this country for a generation, if not a century. (Once again, the politization of the court makes things far more complicated than they need to be.)

    His argument also assumes the GOP “leaders” are brighter than they actually are.

    If you want to change the choices the GOP offers, get more involved in the primary level. A “protest vote” in November gives far too much power to the other side.

  • Cincinnatus

    ChristB@8:

    What don’t you understand about your vote being effectively meaningless?

  • Cincinnatus

    ChristB@8:

    What don’t you understand about your vote being effectively meaningless?

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus,

    A fine argument, indeed: Your vote doesn’t solve everything, so it doesn’t matter. Therefore vote however pleases you, (which just happens to be a rather childish “I’m not playing” vote for a non-viable candidate.)

    However, if that is really your conclusion, why vote at all? Why even participate in this discussion?

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus,

    A fine argument, indeed: Your vote doesn’t solve everything, so it doesn’t matter. Therefore vote however pleases you, (which just happens to be a rather childish “I’m not playing” vote for a non-viable candidate.)

    However, if that is really your conclusion, why vote at all? Why even participate in this discussion?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Well, as an outsider there are arguments for and against, although my gut tells my that Steve Billingsley is closest to the the truth here.

    But for the sake of a good political discussion, consider the nature of Canadian politics. For the longest time, Canada was essentially a 2-party state, Liberal and Conservative. Then, since the sixties, you had the rise of the social-democratic NDP, and the
    Separatistic PQ. As of 2011, the NDP form the official opposition, with the Liberals being relegated to third party status. Even the Greens got their first seat ever in 2011.

    On the provincial level, it gets even more complicated: After the big NDPSweep of the early 90′s, the liberals and the Conservatives in Saskatchewan united to form the Centrist Saskatchewan Party, who swept into power in 2007, and cemented their hold in 2011, with an almost 2/3 majority.

    And even more interesting, considering the debate we had here considering homeschool laws in Alberta some weeks ago, it seems the Conservatives who had been in power there since 1971, but had become ever more “big goverment types” are likely to be swpet from power by the young, upstart, Wild Rose Alliance, a small “l” libertarian /conservative / small government type party. Incidentally, both parties concerned are led by women.

    Sure, the systems are different, but change is change. I think though that the word missing here is “incrementalism”. Maybe that is where things should start?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Well, as an outsider there are arguments for and against, although my gut tells my that Steve Billingsley is closest to the the truth here.

    But for the sake of a good political discussion, consider the nature of Canadian politics. For the longest time, Canada was essentially a 2-party state, Liberal and Conservative. Then, since the sixties, you had the rise of the social-democratic NDP, and the
    Separatistic PQ. As of 2011, the NDP form the official opposition, with the Liberals being relegated to third party status. Even the Greens got their first seat ever in 2011.

    On the provincial level, it gets even more complicated: After the big NDPSweep of the early 90′s, the liberals and the Conservatives in Saskatchewan united to form the Centrist Saskatchewan Party, who swept into power in 2007, and cemented their hold in 2011, with an almost 2/3 majority.

    And even more interesting, considering the debate we had here considering homeschool laws in Alberta some weeks ago, it seems the Conservatives who had been in power there since 1971, but had become ever more “big goverment types” are likely to be swpet from power by the young, upstart, Wild Rose Alliance, a small “l” libertarian /conservative / small government type party. Incidentally, both parties concerned are led by women.

    Sure, the systems are different, but change is change. I think though that the word missing here is “incrementalism”. Maybe that is where things should start?

  • Cincinnatus

    Dan Kempin@10:

    Yours is the kind of supercilious non-response to third-party voting that simply don’t compute. How is it “childish” of me to vote for the candidate whom I honestly believe to be the best?

    As a matter of fact, sometimes I abstain from voting altogether–and I do so with a clean conscience, as I object in principle to the mechanisms by which mass democracy functions. I make a point to vote in local elections, but national elections? A gigantic meh. Christians and conservatives in general do themselves a massive disfavor when the obsess over what happens in Washington when really they have no meaningful say in what happens there.

    But when I do vote in national election, as I said, I tend to vote third-party. Explain the puerility there. Explain on what grounds you’re claiming that a refusal to vote for one of the two hegemonic parties is equivalent to “not playing” (and don’t get me started on the artificial ballot restrictions, etc., that make it hard for third parties to “play” in the first place!). Explain why I should perpetually “settle” for whatever mediocre, narcissistic cardboard cutout the Republican Party throws on the ballot every year. Explain why I should feel guilty for doing otherwise. Please, I’m all ears. I wasn’t aware that democracy required a complete suspension of principles, and I further wasn’t aware that democracy involved doing what the Party tells me to do even if I don’t like it.

  • Cincinnatus

    Dan Kempin@10:

    Yours is the kind of supercilious non-response to third-party voting that simply don’t compute. How is it “childish” of me to vote for the candidate whom I honestly believe to be the best?

    As a matter of fact, sometimes I abstain from voting altogether–and I do so with a clean conscience, as I object in principle to the mechanisms by which mass democracy functions. I make a point to vote in local elections, but national elections? A gigantic meh. Christians and conservatives in general do themselves a massive disfavor when the obsess over what happens in Washington when really they have no meaningful say in what happens there.

    But when I do vote in national election, as I said, I tend to vote third-party. Explain the puerility there. Explain on what grounds you’re claiming that a refusal to vote for one of the two hegemonic parties is equivalent to “not playing” (and don’t get me started on the artificial ballot restrictions, etc., that make it hard for third parties to “play” in the first place!). Explain why I should perpetually “settle” for whatever mediocre, narcissistic cardboard cutout the Republican Party throws on the ballot every year. Explain why I should feel guilty for doing otherwise. Please, I’m all ears. I wasn’t aware that democracy required a complete suspension of principles, and I further wasn’t aware that democracy involved doing what the Party tells me to do even if I don’t like it.

  • Cincinnatus

    simply DOESN’T compute*

  • Cincinnatus

    simply DOESN’T compute*

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus,

    Not trying to be supercilious, but to identify the flaw in your argument, but if you want an explanation of the puerile tint, I’ll explain.

    If you are disgusted with the candidates, fine. If you can’t bring yourself to vote for them, then don’t. But to argue for a third party candidate in the general election is puerile because, by your own argument, it is not constructive. It does not accomplish anything. That’s you arguing against yourself and voting to satisfy and emotion rather than a strategy.

    If you want to argue, like tODD, that it is a strategic move, and maybe, just maybe, party A (or party B) will sit up and take notice, then fine. I don’t buy it, but use your judgment. But to vote in protest because you won’t be manipulated by the “hegemonic” party and their “cardboard” candidates, well that seems more emotional than rational to me.

    If you have done your best to influence the debate and have supported and contributed to the candidate you “believe in” during the primary process, I see no shame in supporting the coalition candidate, (for a national party IS a coalition of differing views.) But trying to sabotage the coalition you were trying to win (for your candidate) because you didn’t win. . . go figure that I would call it “rather childish.”

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus,

    Not trying to be supercilious, but to identify the flaw in your argument, but if you want an explanation of the puerile tint, I’ll explain.

    If you are disgusted with the candidates, fine. If you can’t bring yourself to vote for them, then don’t. But to argue for a third party candidate in the general election is puerile because, by your own argument, it is not constructive. It does not accomplish anything. That’s you arguing against yourself and voting to satisfy and emotion rather than a strategy.

    If you want to argue, like tODD, that it is a strategic move, and maybe, just maybe, party A (or party B) will sit up and take notice, then fine. I don’t buy it, but use your judgment. But to vote in protest because you won’t be manipulated by the “hegemonic” party and their “cardboard” candidates, well that seems more emotional than rational to me.

    If you have done your best to influence the debate and have supported and contributed to the candidate you “believe in” during the primary process, I see no shame in supporting the coalition candidate, (for a national party IS a coalition of differing views.) But trying to sabotage the coalition you were trying to win (for your candidate) because you didn’t win. . . go figure that I would call it “rather childish.”

  • Dan Kempin

    *I should add the corrective, Cincinnatus, that my response is based on a (more or less) republican supporter withdrawing their support in the general. If your argument is to use your vote in an attempt to broaden it beyond a two party system, then I misread your point and I have no probelm with that.

  • Dan Kempin

    *I should add the corrective, Cincinnatus, that my response is based on a (more or less) republican supporter withdrawing their support in the general. If your argument is to use your vote in an attempt to broaden it beyond a two party system, then I misread your point and I have no probelm with that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I think a better long-term strategy to getting “third party” candidates into the White House would be to first get some respect for the third party at the local and state levels. On the other hand, even those lower levels of government are fraught with 2-party syndrome that makes it hard for third parties to play. It might help (or it might not, I dunno) if government at all levels would refuse to officially recognize political parties as anything more than private organizations of like-minded people assembling together for a common purpose.

    I really wouldn’t care who the president was, and probably would agree with voting for a third party on principle instead of voting for the “lesser of two evils,” were it not for the fact that the president has the power to appoint judges who hold their offices “during good behavior” — in other words, for life — and can’t be removed short of impeachment and conviction for High Treason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I think a better long-term strategy to getting “third party” candidates into the White House would be to first get some respect for the third party at the local and state levels. On the other hand, even those lower levels of government are fraught with 2-party syndrome that makes it hard for third parties to play. It might help (or it might not, I dunno) if government at all levels would refuse to officially recognize political parties as anything more than private organizations of like-minded people assembling together for a common purpose.

    I really wouldn’t care who the president was, and probably would agree with voting for a third party on principle instead of voting for the “lesser of two evils,” were it not for the fact that the president has the power to appoint judges who hold their offices “during good behavior” — in other words, for life — and can’t be removed short of impeachment and conviction for High Treason.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.

    As to the Supreme Court justices, there will always be some situation that ‘demands we vote for X this time.’ The two parties can manufacture these ‘crises’ for decades.

    I am quickly coming to the point where I do not wish to lend legitimacy to the bi-factional ruling party (Dems+Republicans) with my votes at all.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.

    As to the Supreme Court justices, there will always be some situation that ‘demands we vote for X this time.’ The two parties can manufacture these ‘crises’ for decades.

    I am quickly coming to the point where I do not wish to lend legitimacy to the bi-factional ruling party (Dems+Republicans) with my votes at all.

  • helen

    The only elections in which your individual vote could possibly matter, statistically speaking, are local school board/city council/etc. elections, and sometimes not even then. –Cincinnatus

    I have participated in efforts to “turn over” school boards twice.
    (It requires sustained effort for three elections to change the majority.) Looking back, we delayed implementation of an odious program for a number of years in the first case. (There was also a lawsuit over it.)
    In the second, a principal who valued a pretty ankle over competence in a teacher was sent on down the road. I don’t know if either effort had long term effect on the respective system, because most parents weren’t interested in getting involved.

    We did have some teachers express gratitude (privately) for what we were trying to do. Some students had a better learning experience, at least for a while.

  • helen

    The only elections in which your individual vote could possibly matter, statistically speaking, are local school board/city council/etc. elections, and sometimes not even then. –Cincinnatus

    I have participated in efforts to “turn over” school boards twice.
    (It requires sustained effort for three elections to change the majority.) Looking back, we delayed implementation of an odious program for a number of years in the first case. (There was also a lawsuit over it.)
    In the second, a principal who valued a pretty ankle over competence in a teacher was sent on down the road. I don’t know if either effort had long term effect on the respective system, because most parents weren’t interested in getting involved.

    We did have some teachers express gratitude (privately) for what we were trying to do. Some students had a better learning experience, at least for a while.

  • Joanne

    When there is no one at the top of the presidential election ballot that I actually want, I have voted Women’s Temperance League, mainly because I thought it was a safe throw-away vote. (They couldn’t accidentally win.)
    It’s been my experience that liberal, moderate, or just nice country-club Republicans have done as much damage to our country as have Alynskyite Democrats who know exactly what they are doing. They blur the distinctions and try to make nice with their implacable foes. They lose control of the house and senate, and they are more comfortable in being complainers than leaders.
    The current RINO Brown of Mass. actually voted with the Democrats for the economic plans of his current opponent, Ms. Warren. Howz that irony for you? And in the Philadelphia abortion scandal clinic, it was under a RINO governor that the abortion clinic got it’s political cover to survive and thrive. RINOs kill.
    Just as in chess, you may make a move that loses one of your pieces so that 2 moves later you get the opponent’s piece you had targeted 4 moves back. Sometimes, it’s better to lose; it clarifies the field and the issues. When that RINO you fought so hard to elect results in all the policies you opposed, what did you vote for? When that RINO appoints a nice liberal Republican from New Hampshire or Texas to the court who votes 70% with the statists against the clear word of the constitution, what did you vote for?
    I find that the 40% of voters who are in the middle, vote as if they were betting on the winner, instead of for whom they believe in. It’s like they’ll win a bet if they vote for the one that wins, whoever that maybe, and whatever their politics. It’s a kind of sports voting. These are the people who often decide an election and the ones that the professional election manipulators focus on.
    I personally feel better about myself and my political beliefs when I vote my principles and go down with my ship. I vote for whom I want to be president, not whom I think will win the election, especially in a primary.
    It’s slim pickin’s this election and the Temperance Ladies will likely get my vote. RINOs kill, they vote with the opposition. And, if my party takes the house and senate, it may be ok to lose another chess piece, for a better choice in four years.

  • Joanne

    When there is no one at the top of the presidential election ballot that I actually want, I have voted Women’s Temperance League, mainly because I thought it was a safe throw-away vote. (They couldn’t accidentally win.)
    It’s been my experience that liberal, moderate, or just nice country-club Republicans have done as much damage to our country as have Alynskyite Democrats who know exactly what they are doing. They blur the distinctions and try to make nice with their implacable foes. They lose control of the house and senate, and they are more comfortable in being complainers than leaders.
    The current RINO Brown of Mass. actually voted with the Democrats for the economic plans of his current opponent, Ms. Warren. Howz that irony for you? And in the Philadelphia abortion scandal clinic, it was under a RINO governor that the abortion clinic got it’s political cover to survive and thrive. RINOs kill.
    Just as in chess, you may make a move that loses one of your pieces so that 2 moves later you get the opponent’s piece you had targeted 4 moves back. Sometimes, it’s better to lose; it clarifies the field and the issues. When that RINO you fought so hard to elect results in all the policies you opposed, what did you vote for? When that RINO appoints a nice liberal Republican from New Hampshire or Texas to the court who votes 70% with the statists against the clear word of the constitution, what did you vote for?
    I find that the 40% of voters who are in the middle, vote as if they were betting on the winner, instead of for whom they believe in. It’s like they’ll win a bet if they vote for the one that wins, whoever that maybe, and whatever their politics. It’s a kind of sports voting. These are the people who often decide an election and the ones that the professional election manipulators focus on.
    I personally feel better about myself and my political beliefs when I vote my principles and go down with my ship. I vote for whom I want to be president, not whom I think will win the election, especially in a primary.
    It’s slim pickin’s this election and the Temperance Ladies will likely get my vote. RINOs kill, they vote with the opposition. And, if my party takes the house and senate, it may be ok to lose another chess piece, for a better choice in four years.

  • Joe

    The thing I find the most annoying about Dan’s argument is it seems to assume the GOP is entitled to my vote in the first instance. My vote is available to any candidate that puts forward a platform of ideas that mesh with mine. They don’t have to be perfect, but when their horrible, I don’t feel duty bound to vote for the Party’s guy.

    Often, I don’t see a real difference between the GOP and Dems (pick a statist, any statist) . In those cases, trying to scare me into thinking I will reelect the Dem by voting third-party is useless.

    As for whether protest votes matter – they do, if there are enough of them. Both major parties monitor and poll how “fringe” GOP and Dem candidates would do as third-parties. Both parties know that a recent poll found that Ron Paul would get 17% of the popular vote in a general election if he ran third-party (10% from GOP and 7% from Dem voters).

  • Joe

    The thing I find the most annoying about Dan’s argument is it seems to assume the GOP is entitled to my vote in the first instance. My vote is available to any candidate that puts forward a platform of ideas that mesh with mine. They don’t have to be perfect, but when their horrible, I don’t feel duty bound to vote for the Party’s guy.

    Often, I don’t see a real difference between the GOP and Dems (pick a statist, any statist) . In those cases, trying to scare me into thinking I will reelect the Dem by voting third-party is useless.

    As for whether protest votes matter – they do, if there are enough of them. Both major parties monitor and poll how “fringe” GOP and Dem candidates would do as third-parties. Both parties know that a recent poll found that Ron Paul would get 17% of the popular vote in a general election if he ran third-party (10% from GOP and 7% from Dem voters).

  • Joe

    I should clarify — its not “Dan’s argument” as in he is the only won who makes it. It is Dan’s argument in that he is currently articulating it on this thread.

  • Joe

    I should clarify — its not “Dan’s argument” as in he is the only won who makes it. It is Dan’s argument in that he is currently articulating it on this thread.

  • DonS

    As usual, tODD presents a well drafted, logical, and compelling argument. However, I don’t believe it applies to our present situation, or represents a good long-term strategy for winning the “chess game”.

    Let’s start with the chess analogy. Sure, to win chess consistently, you need to have a long-term strategy. You need to plan your moves, and to execute your plan, sometimes a particular move or series of moves can look “foolish” to those who only think tactically and immediately. However, this analogy assumes that you start with a full set of pieces in place. Unfortunately, that is not the state of our country currently. Given our burgeoning debt, and the fact that we are near the tipping point on whether we are going to be able to change course in time to avoid being Greece, we are, essentially, two or three moves from being checkmated. At the same time, we have a president poised to appoint at least two or three more justices to the Supreme Court in the next term, not to mention hundreds of circuit and district court judges, which will tip our country toward a disregard for religious free exercise rights. We do not have the luxury of thinking strategically, but rather making the emergency moves necessary to stave off checkmate and hopefully place us in the position to win the game later.

    Even so, thinking strategically doesn’t mean just showing up and voting third party in a general election. It means working within a viable party, which at present is only the Republican party, and building up its bench with good future candidates at the state and local levels, so that there will be better options in future primaries. We are doing this, and institutions like PHC are a big help toward this effort. We are going to have much better candidates to choose from very shortly. Then, when we convince them to run nationally, we need to work tirelessly to elect them AT THE PRIMARY LEVEL. This is where the strategic thinking and action must take place.

    Changing the course of a country that has been on the wrong path for 80 or more years is not merely showing up at a general election and throwing your vote away on a third party candidate and hoping that party leadership listens. They won’t. Complaining won’t do it either. It takes hard work, over years and decades, including inculcating in your own kids the values and ideals that you believe in for our country and our government. It takes working from the inside of existing government, and existing political structures, working to slowly change them, and to develop good men and women to fill key roles in them.

    In the meantime, once you get to a general election, vote for the viable candidate who will best preserve the status quo until the strategic efforts we are making have time to take effect.

  • DonS

    As usual, tODD presents a well drafted, logical, and compelling argument. However, I don’t believe it applies to our present situation, or represents a good long-term strategy for winning the “chess game”.

    Let’s start with the chess analogy. Sure, to win chess consistently, you need to have a long-term strategy. You need to plan your moves, and to execute your plan, sometimes a particular move or series of moves can look “foolish” to those who only think tactically and immediately. However, this analogy assumes that you start with a full set of pieces in place. Unfortunately, that is not the state of our country currently. Given our burgeoning debt, and the fact that we are near the tipping point on whether we are going to be able to change course in time to avoid being Greece, we are, essentially, two or three moves from being checkmated. At the same time, we have a president poised to appoint at least two or three more justices to the Supreme Court in the next term, not to mention hundreds of circuit and district court judges, which will tip our country toward a disregard for religious free exercise rights. We do not have the luxury of thinking strategically, but rather making the emergency moves necessary to stave off checkmate and hopefully place us in the position to win the game later.

    Even so, thinking strategically doesn’t mean just showing up and voting third party in a general election. It means working within a viable party, which at present is only the Republican party, and building up its bench with good future candidates at the state and local levels, so that there will be better options in future primaries. We are doing this, and institutions like PHC are a big help toward this effort. We are going to have much better candidates to choose from very shortly. Then, when we convince them to run nationally, we need to work tirelessly to elect them AT THE PRIMARY LEVEL. This is where the strategic thinking and action must take place.

    Changing the course of a country that has been on the wrong path for 80 or more years is not merely showing up at a general election and throwing your vote away on a third party candidate and hoping that party leadership listens. They won’t. Complaining won’t do it either. It takes hard work, over years and decades, including inculcating in your own kids the values and ideals that you believe in for our country and our government. It takes working from the inside of existing government, and existing political structures, working to slowly change them, and to develop good men and women to fill key roles in them.

    In the meantime, once you get to a general election, vote for the viable candidate who will best preserve the status quo until the strategic efforts we are making have time to take effect.

  • Dan Kempin

    Joe, #20,

    “Dan’s argument is it seems to assume the GOP is entitled to my vote”

    I didn’t say that. In fact, I avoided mentioning parties in particular, though it is clear that the GOP is under discussion. It goes without saying that you should not vote for a candidate you cannot support.

    ” . . . trying to scare me into thinking I will reelect the Dem by voting third-party is useless.”

    I’m not trying to manipulate anyone. I’m trying to identify the logical fallacy.

    “As for whether protest votes matter – they do, if there are enough of them. ”

    But there are not. Unless you are considering the net 3% (your data) that Ron Paul could swing in favor of the democratic candidate, which could make the difference. But I guess saying that would be a scare tactic.

  • Dan Kempin

    Joe, #20,

    “Dan’s argument is it seems to assume the GOP is entitled to my vote”

    I didn’t say that. In fact, I avoided mentioning parties in particular, though it is clear that the GOP is under discussion. It goes without saying that you should not vote for a candidate you cannot support.

    ” . . . trying to scare me into thinking I will reelect the Dem by voting third-party is useless.”

    I’m not trying to manipulate anyone. I’m trying to identify the logical fallacy.

    “As for whether protest votes matter – they do, if there are enough of them. ”

    But there are not. Unless you are considering the net 3% (your data) that Ron Paul could swing in favor of the democratic candidate, which could make the difference. But I guess saying that would be a scare tactic.

  • Me

    http://www.lp.org/ Libertarian. Probably my favorite minority party.

  • Me

    http://www.lp.org/ Libertarian. Probably my favorite minority party.

  • SKPeterson

    Vote Republican. We’re only half as evil as the Democrats and any judges we nominate might have read the Constitution (not that we’d ask or anything) once or twice. While Obama has reduced government spending by almost $200 million while still spending trillions, we’ll reduce spending by a few $ billion, while spending fewer trillions of dollars than Obama. Vote for smaller big government and Republican-flavored crony capitalism, because our opponents will impose bigger big government and Democrat-flavored crony capitalism. Will we end the Departments of Education, HUD, Commerce, Labor or Veterans Affairs? No! No! and No! Have no fear! They just need to be run more efficiently according to business management principles. Democrats do not believe in efficient bureaucracy and that’s what we have to offer the American people in 2012: bureaucratic efficiency.*

    *Standard disclaimer exempts the Department of Defense from any and all efforts at bureaucratic efficiency or accountability.

  • SKPeterson

    Vote Republican. We’re only half as evil as the Democrats and any judges we nominate might have read the Constitution (not that we’d ask or anything) once or twice. While Obama has reduced government spending by almost $200 million while still spending trillions, we’ll reduce spending by a few $ billion, while spending fewer trillions of dollars than Obama. Vote for smaller big government and Republican-flavored crony capitalism, because our opponents will impose bigger big government and Democrat-flavored crony capitalism. Will we end the Departments of Education, HUD, Commerce, Labor or Veterans Affairs? No! No! and No! Have no fear! They just need to be run more efficiently according to business management principles. Democrats do not believe in efficient bureaucracy and that’s what we have to offer the American people in 2012: bureaucratic efficiency.*

    *Standard disclaimer exempts the Department of Defense from any and all efforts at bureaucratic efficiency or accountability.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@22), thanks for your kind words.

    Given our burgeoning debt, and the fact that we are near the tipping point on whether we are going to be able to change course in time to avoid being Greece, we are, essentially, two or three moves from being checkmated.

    Do you actually have a metric for this? Because I’m pretty certain you could’ve said this during any election in my life time (maybe not the Greece example, but certainly the part about “burgeoning debt”). Maybe even longer — we have, after all, been on the “wrong path for 80 or more years”, according to you. I’m pretty certain we’ll be hearing it in future elections, too.

    But, well, it just sounds like fear-mongering, without a metric. I mean, sure, you could look up some current metric (debt as percent of GDP, I’d guess) and say that whatever level it’s at has crossed some line. I guess that would be better than just randomly claiming that we’re “two or three moves” (i.e. elections, I assume) from turning into modern-day Greece.

    We are going to have much better candidates to choose from very shortly.

    Great! Maybe then I’ll vote for a Republican. In the hypothetical future when their candidates aren’t terrible. Sorry, but the juxtaposition of blind hope in the middle of a comment that was largely doom-and-gloom struck me as a bit funny.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@22), thanks for your kind words.

    Given our burgeoning debt, and the fact that we are near the tipping point on whether we are going to be able to change course in time to avoid being Greece, we are, essentially, two or three moves from being checkmated.

    Do you actually have a metric for this? Because I’m pretty certain you could’ve said this during any election in my life time (maybe not the Greece example, but certainly the part about “burgeoning debt”). Maybe even longer — we have, after all, been on the “wrong path for 80 or more years”, according to you. I’m pretty certain we’ll be hearing it in future elections, too.

    But, well, it just sounds like fear-mongering, without a metric. I mean, sure, you could look up some current metric (debt as percent of GDP, I’d guess) and say that whatever level it’s at has crossed some line. I guess that would be better than just randomly claiming that we’re “two or three moves” (i.e. elections, I assume) from turning into modern-day Greece.

    We are going to have much better candidates to choose from very shortly.

    Great! Maybe then I’ll vote for a Republican. In the hypothetical future when their candidates aren’t terrible. Sorry, but the juxtaposition of blind hope in the middle of a comment that was largely doom-and-gloom struck me as a bit funny.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@3), you make good points.

    My original comment (i.e. Veith’s post) wasn’t a recipe for how to change the culture. I agree with you that this is best done at the local level — that is to say, in your own family and neighborhood.

    I also agree with others who say that political change is best begun at the small, local level. Unfortunately, like many people, I’m not terribly knowledgeable about local politics.

    Federal elections are probably the biggest waste of time and energy as regards our national discourse — presidential elections all the more so. But they are rather entertaining (which is probably why we enjoy them so). Well, sometimes. This November’s presidential election actually looks to be something of a snoozer. Maybe it’s just me.

    I just wish we — especially we Christians — had a more realistic view of federal elections, a sense of proportion. Like Steve said (@3):

    I don’t pretend that me casting a vote is anything more than fulfilling a civic privilege and responsibility. I don’t change the world with my vote.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@3), you make good points.

    My original comment (i.e. Veith’s post) wasn’t a recipe for how to change the culture. I agree with you that this is best done at the local level — that is to say, in your own family and neighborhood.

    I also agree with others who say that political change is best begun at the small, local level. Unfortunately, like many people, I’m not terribly knowledgeable about local politics.

    Federal elections are probably the biggest waste of time and energy as regards our national discourse — presidential elections all the more so. But they are rather entertaining (which is probably why we enjoy them so). Well, sometimes. This November’s presidential election actually looks to be something of a snoozer. Maybe it’s just me.

    I just wish we — especially we Christians — had a more realistic view of federal elections, a sense of proportion. Like Steve said (@3):

    I don’t pretend that me casting a vote is anything more than fulfilling a civic privilege and responsibility. I don’t change the world with my vote.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I find that the 40% of voters who are in the middle, vote as if they were betting on the winner, instead of for whom they believe in.”

    The 40% in the middle are the least informed voters as well as not having well formed political ideas. That is why they are in the middle. More informed voters pick a side.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I find that the 40% of voters who are in the middle, vote as if they were betting on the winner, instead of for whom they believe in.”

    The 40% in the middle are the least informed voters as well as not having well formed political ideas. That is why they are in the middle. More informed voters pick a side.

  • Joe

    Not sure if you guys heard this or not, but this is the most important election in your life time. Of course, so was the last one …

  • Joe

    Not sure if you guys heard this or not, but this is the most important election in your life time. Of course, so was the last one …

  • DonS

    tODD @ 26: You’re welcome. I wrote those words because your comment deserved them. It was an articulate and persuasive argument, the best I’ve seen, for voting third party if you do not care for either major party candidate. And, I should clarify that I am not arguing otherwise for those who truly cannot stomach support of either candidate. For instance, my wife sometimes votes third party because she genuinely cannot vote for either major party candidate in good conscience. I know, also, that Bror has stated that he will not vote for Romney under any circumstances because of his Mormonism, rooted in the fact that he lives in Utah, essentially under Mormon rule. I respect that position, and would never encourage someone to do something against their conscience.

    My argument is directed to those, particularly, who would otherwise vote Republican, but are considering voting third party to “send a message”, strategically. My point is that this is not a very strategic way to send a message, and the message will, presumptively, fall on deaf ears. Now, you in Oregon, and I in California, can vote however we want. It won’t matter a bit — Obama will have the electoral votes of our states in November without a sweat either way. The same for those in Oklahoma, Texas, etc., who know their states will give their electoral votes to Romney on election night. I’m really speaking to the voters in the swing states here, where a shift of 1-5% of otherwise Republican voters to third parties could legitimately shift their state to Obama — the price of their “message” to the Republican party being exceedingly steep as a result, for the reasons I stated above.

    You ask for metrics. Here they are. Our federal debt (public debt) now exceeds $15 trillion, and will be close to $16 trillion at the end of this fiscal year. It was a little over $10 trillion at the end of the 2008 fiscal year, and a little over $7 trillion in 2004. So, it has more than doubled in eight years. That is a powerful metric as to the unique circumstances of our time. The Democratic Senate, in response, hasn’t passed a budget in three years. So, clearly, it does not have a plan for addressing this problem. Obama has never talked, in any serious way, about ever balancing the budget, and his current budget plan never gets there. Even his rosy forecasts have us at nearly a $19 trillion debt by 2021, and the overview to his 2013 budget talks about trying to “control” the percentage of deficit to total economy, rather than actually ever reaching balance. On the other hand, the Republican House, at the very least, is passing budgets that reach forecasted balance, realistic or not, and no one seriously disputes that our national debt will be smaller in four years under Republican control than under the Obama administration, with its tilt toward “fairness” rather than fiscal responsibility.

    More metrics: Scalia — age 76. Kennedy — age 75. Ginsburg — age 79. Breyer — age 73. The next president certainly will have one or two appointments on the Supreme Court, at minimum. There is a good chance one of them will be a conservative slot, which will tip the Court in ways that will be far-reaching, particularly given the Obama administration’s activism in promoting the power of the federal government over the Constitutional rights of the citizens, particularly the right of free exercise of religion.

    Again, the evidence from Europe, and the opinions of economists who believe that a government debt exceeding 75-100% of GDP is very dangerous to economic health, provide the metrics to show us that, while there have certainly been a number of key elections in American history, this one will determine the national direction for decades to come. I’m not about scaremongering, though. On the contrary, my point is that in politics, national elections are won at the primary level. That is where to “send a message”. And, before that, the best message is to ensure that good candidates are groomed, obtain appropriate experience at lower governmental levels, and are financed and supported as candidates in appropriate primary elections.

    If you have any metrics, or other evidence, to show that your proposed strategy of voting third party in a general election, since the establishment of the Republican and Democratic parties as our two major political parties, has ever materially changed the approach or philosophy of the leadership of either major party, I’m all ears. Otherwise, I will continue to insist that you have to work from the inside, not the outside, to change a party, and that third parties are not a viable option.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 26: You’re welcome. I wrote those words because your comment deserved them. It was an articulate and persuasive argument, the best I’ve seen, for voting third party if you do not care for either major party candidate. And, I should clarify that I am not arguing otherwise for those who truly cannot stomach support of either candidate. For instance, my wife sometimes votes third party because she genuinely cannot vote for either major party candidate in good conscience. I know, also, that Bror has stated that he will not vote for Romney under any circumstances because of his Mormonism, rooted in the fact that he lives in Utah, essentially under Mormon rule. I respect that position, and would never encourage someone to do something against their conscience.

    My argument is directed to those, particularly, who would otherwise vote Republican, but are considering voting third party to “send a message”, strategically. My point is that this is not a very strategic way to send a message, and the message will, presumptively, fall on deaf ears. Now, you in Oregon, and I in California, can vote however we want. It won’t matter a bit — Obama will have the electoral votes of our states in November without a sweat either way. The same for those in Oklahoma, Texas, etc., who know their states will give their electoral votes to Romney on election night. I’m really speaking to the voters in the swing states here, where a shift of 1-5% of otherwise Republican voters to third parties could legitimately shift their state to Obama — the price of their “message” to the Republican party being exceedingly steep as a result, for the reasons I stated above.

    You ask for metrics. Here they are. Our federal debt (public debt) now exceeds $15 trillion, and will be close to $16 trillion at the end of this fiscal year. It was a little over $10 trillion at the end of the 2008 fiscal year, and a little over $7 trillion in 2004. So, it has more than doubled in eight years. That is a powerful metric as to the unique circumstances of our time. The Democratic Senate, in response, hasn’t passed a budget in three years. So, clearly, it does not have a plan for addressing this problem. Obama has never talked, in any serious way, about ever balancing the budget, and his current budget plan never gets there. Even his rosy forecasts have us at nearly a $19 trillion debt by 2021, and the overview to his 2013 budget talks about trying to “control” the percentage of deficit to total economy, rather than actually ever reaching balance. On the other hand, the Republican House, at the very least, is passing budgets that reach forecasted balance, realistic or not, and no one seriously disputes that our national debt will be smaller in four years under Republican control than under the Obama administration, with its tilt toward “fairness” rather than fiscal responsibility.

    More metrics: Scalia — age 76. Kennedy — age 75. Ginsburg — age 79. Breyer — age 73. The next president certainly will have one or two appointments on the Supreme Court, at minimum. There is a good chance one of them will be a conservative slot, which will tip the Court in ways that will be far-reaching, particularly given the Obama administration’s activism in promoting the power of the federal government over the Constitutional rights of the citizens, particularly the right of free exercise of religion.

    Again, the evidence from Europe, and the opinions of economists who believe that a government debt exceeding 75-100% of GDP is very dangerous to economic health, provide the metrics to show us that, while there have certainly been a number of key elections in American history, this one will determine the national direction for decades to come. I’m not about scaremongering, though. On the contrary, my point is that in politics, national elections are won at the primary level. That is where to “send a message”. And, before that, the best message is to ensure that good candidates are groomed, obtain appropriate experience at lower governmental levels, and are financed and supported as candidates in appropriate primary elections.

    If you have any metrics, or other evidence, to show that your proposed strategy of voting third party in a general election, since the establishment of the Republican and Democratic parties as our two major political parties, has ever materially changed the approach or philosophy of the leadership of either major party, I’m all ears. Otherwise, I will continue to insist that you have to work from the inside, not the outside, to change a party, and that third parties are not a viable option.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@30):

    So, [our federal debt] has more than doubled in eight years. That is a powerful metric as to the unique circumstances of our time.

    “Powerful”? Perhaps. “Unique”? No. The federal debt more than doubled in the eight-year period spanning 1981-1989. Was that the end of the world? Was that an argument for voting Dukakis, in order to avoid the horrible economic fate that awaited us in the near future of the 1990s? Of course not. The federal debt also nearly doubled in the eight-year period spanning 1985-1993. An argument in favor of Clinton? Please. I know your answer already. I’m pretty certain I could find other periods where the federal debt doubled in such a time period, but I’m lazy.

    This is why I asked you for metrics to back up your claim that the sky is, finally, falling. To show that the sky was falling 30 years ago, too, but the present-day Chicken Littles weren’t saying much back then, it would seem (they all looooove Reagan).

    Yes, I get that things are bad. I agree. My point though, was to ask by what metric things have finally gotten too bad, such that votes of conscience now need to be discouraged (you can vote your conscience when the Republicans finally reduce our debt ha ha ha).

    …no one seriously disputes that our national debt will be smaller in four years under Republican control than under the Obama administration…

    I guess it’s easier if you just claim so by fiat? I dispute it (but I guess I’m not “serious”?). In Bush’s last term, he increased the debt/GDP ratio by 20.7 percentage points. In the first half of Obama’s term (most recent numbers I could find), he increased the ratio by 15.4 points. Now, I assume Obama will surpass Bush, obviously, but the point remains: anyone who assumes that a Republican President is going to be “seriously” better in terms of debt is just wishing at this point.

    Again, the evidence from Europe, and the opinions of economists who believe that a government debt exceeding 75-100% of GDP is very dangerous to economic health…

    Again, this is why I asked for metrics. The opinions of economists, plus $4.50 (in 2012 dollars), will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Greece qualified according to your metric somewhere in the early 90s. Between 1993 and 2007, Greece’s debt/GDP ratio hovered around 100%. Now, I’m no economist, but I don’t recall anyone freaking out about Greece during that time. Maybe they did, I don’t know.

    But when did the US qualify according to this metric of yours (Other than during and after WWII)? We crossed the 75% debt/GDP ratio under Bush’s administration. Was that an argument that we should have voted for Obama?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@30):

    So, [our federal debt] has more than doubled in eight years. That is a powerful metric as to the unique circumstances of our time.

    “Powerful”? Perhaps. “Unique”? No. The federal debt more than doubled in the eight-year period spanning 1981-1989. Was that the end of the world? Was that an argument for voting Dukakis, in order to avoid the horrible economic fate that awaited us in the near future of the 1990s? Of course not. The federal debt also nearly doubled in the eight-year period spanning 1985-1993. An argument in favor of Clinton? Please. I know your answer already. I’m pretty certain I could find other periods where the federal debt doubled in such a time period, but I’m lazy.

    This is why I asked you for metrics to back up your claim that the sky is, finally, falling. To show that the sky was falling 30 years ago, too, but the present-day Chicken Littles weren’t saying much back then, it would seem (they all looooove Reagan).

    Yes, I get that things are bad. I agree. My point though, was to ask by what metric things have finally gotten too bad, such that votes of conscience now need to be discouraged (you can vote your conscience when the Republicans finally reduce our debt ha ha ha).

    …no one seriously disputes that our national debt will be smaller in four years under Republican control than under the Obama administration…

    I guess it’s easier if you just claim so by fiat? I dispute it (but I guess I’m not “serious”?). In Bush’s last term, he increased the debt/GDP ratio by 20.7 percentage points. In the first half of Obama’s term (most recent numbers I could find), he increased the ratio by 15.4 points. Now, I assume Obama will surpass Bush, obviously, but the point remains: anyone who assumes that a Republican President is going to be “seriously” better in terms of debt is just wishing at this point.

    Again, the evidence from Europe, and the opinions of economists who believe that a government debt exceeding 75-100% of GDP is very dangerous to economic health…

    Again, this is why I asked for metrics. The opinions of economists, plus $4.50 (in 2012 dollars), will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Greece qualified according to your metric somewhere in the early 90s. Between 1993 and 2007, Greece’s debt/GDP ratio hovered around 100%. Now, I’m no economist, but I don’t recall anyone freaking out about Greece during that time. Maybe they did, I don’t know.

    But when did the US qualify according to this metric of yours (Other than during and after WWII)? We crossed the 75% debt/GDP ratio under Bush’s administration. Was that an argument that we should have voted for Obama?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I think tODD makes a great point for personal conscience. However, mathematically the “long game” probably doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because, to crib Porter’s for a moment, the “buyer”, or voter, has no market power. McDonald’s is a great example. If you vote against McDonald’s by going to Wendy’s, McDonald’s doesn’t give a flying fig. There are still “billions and billions sold”, and McDonald’s is going to keep doing what it does to sell billions. In like manner, the only way the “long game” will influence the GOP will be when the entire market shifts. This would require the simultaneous effort of many traditionally GOP voting people – and with the electoral college, these votes might not even matter (in California, for example). Ironically, votes cast for a third party candidate would actually shift market power to the dems, so the GOP might actually move further left. HSAT, I think tODD’s strategy would work at the levels of Congress and Senate – which would in turn send a very strong signal regarding what voters want in a GOP presidential candidate.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I think tODD makes a great point for personal conscience. However, mathematically the “long game” probably doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because, to crib Porter’s for a moment, the “buyer”, or voter, has no market power. McDonald’s is a great example. If you vote against McDonald’s by going to Wendy’s, McDonald’s doesn’t give a flying fig. There are still “billions and billions sold”, and McDonald’s is going to keep doing what it does to sell billions. In like manner, the only way the “long game” will influence the GOP will be when the entire market shifts. This would require the simultaneous effort of many traditionally GOP voting people – and with the electoral college, these votes might not even matter (in California, for example). Ironically, votes cast for a third party candidate would actually shift market power to the dems, so the GOP might actually move further left. HSAT, I think tODD’s strategy would work at the levels of Congress and Senate – which would in turn send a very strong signal regarding what voters want in a GOP presidential candidate.

  • formerly just steve

    I want to echo what others have said here about the need for getting involved at the local level. This is the only place change at the state and federal level can start. Take California for instance, where it’s not Republicans vs Democrats, but incumbents vs the people. Cooperative gerrymandering has assured the incumbents in both parties stay in power. So the balance of power in the state will never change and the electoral vote will never change. For these men and women, it’s not about political philosophy or the good of the constituency, but getting a paycheck. They rely on a two-party system to usher them back into office. Now, thanks to term-limits, these guys term-limit out. Unfortunately, they become part of the committee power-brokers in the district, who aren’t elected, are have even more power to select and mold future candidates. The end result being a further entrenchment of Democrats and Republicans. And, of course, Prop 11 puts redistricting in the hands of an unelected committee made up of a stacked deck of Democrats and Republicans, with a few third-partiers thrown in to give the appearance of impartiality. I like term-limits, in theory, and I like having limits put on congressional gerrymandering, in theory. Unfortunately, the power-brokers have figured out how to game the system before they were even put into place.

    If there were even an argument against a two-party system, California is it.

  • formerly just steve

    I want to echo what others have said here about the need for getting involved at the local level. This is the only place change at the state and federal level can start. Take California for instance, where it’s not Republicans vs Democrats, but incumbents vs the people. Cooperative gerrymandering has assured the incumbents in both parties stay in power. So the balance of power in the state will never change and the electoral vote will never change. For these men and women, it’s not about political philosophy or the good of the constituency, but getting a paycheck. They rely on a two-party system to usher them back into office. Now, thanks to term-limits, these guys term-limit out. Unfortunately, they become part of the committee power-brokers in the district, who aren’t elected, are have even more power to select and mold future candidates. The end result being a further entrenchment of Democrats and Republicans. And, of course, Prop 11 puts redistricting in the hands of an unelected committee made up of a stacked deck of Democrats and Republicans, with a few third-partiers thrown in to give the appearance of impartiality. I like term-limits, in theory, and I like having limits put on congressional gerrymandering, in theory. Unfortunately, the power-brokers have figured out how to game the system before they were even put into place.

    If there were even an argument against a two-party system, California is it.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 32: The context of the metric I offered was not that the federal debt had doubled, it was that it had doubled, in the course of eight years, to a total of over $15 trillion, which is essentially one year’s GDP, and about 6 times annual federal tax revenue. If I borrowed a dollar from you, and then later borrowed another, my debt would have doubled — obviously it is not the doubling, per se, but the rapid pace at which our debt has reached crisis levels that is key.

    In the 1980′s, the gross debt increased from about $2 trillion to 4 trillion, increasing from about 35% to about 55% of GDP http://www.deptofnumbers.com/misc/debt-revenue-and-expenditures-as-a-fraction-of-gdp/ That was bad, but at least there was a plan to deal with it. Social Security was substantially reformed, the 1986 tax reform bill took effect, and a major reason for the debt increase — the escalation of the Cold War, had its effect in ending that war and causing the Peace Dividend of the 1990′s and a (temporary) balanced budget (albeit because of extensive borrowing from Social Security tax surpluses — an option we no longer have today).

    Our national debt has now escalated to the point where it is equivalent to a debt of about $450,000 for a family having a $75,000 annual income. But, unlike the case for that family, there is no plan to pay it down, or even to hold it steady. President Obama’s plan never achieves a balanced budget. It doesn’t even try. The Senate no longer budgets. When does this metric become important or critical to you? Or to your children?

    I guess that’s for each of us to judge. I think we are at a tipping point. Maybe you disagree.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 32: The context of the metric I offered was not that the federal debt had doubled, it was that it had doubled, in the course of eight years, to a total of over $15 trillion, which is essentially one year’s GDP, and about 6 times annual federal tax revenue. If I borrowed a dollar from you, and then later borrowed another, my debt would have doubled — obviously it is not the doubling, per se, but the rapid pace at which our debt has reached crisis levels that is key.

    In the 1980′s, the gross debt increased from about $2 trillion to 4 trillion, increasing from about 35% to about 55% of GDP http://www.deptofnumbers.com/misc/debt-revenue-and-expenditures-as-a-fraction-of-gdp/ That was bad, but at least there was a plan to deal with it. Social Security was substantially reformed, the 1986 tax reform bill took effect, and a major reason for the debt increase — the escalation of the Cold War, had its effect in ending that war and causing the Peace Dividend of the 1990′s and a (temporary) balanced budget (albeit because of extensive borrowing from Social Security tax surpluses — an option we no longer have today).

    Our national debt has now escalated to the point where it is equivalent to a debt of about $450,000 for a family having a $75,000 annual income. But, unlike the case for that family, there is no plan to pay it down, or even to hold it steady. President Obama’s plan never achieves a balanced budget. It doesn’t even try. The Senate no longer budgets. When does this metric become important or critical to you? Or to your children?

    I guess that’s for each of us to judge. I think we are at a tipping point. Maybe you disagree.

  • larry

    Todd’s point is on the mark, as was Dr. Luthers and Bror’s and many others on the same issue of third party.

    “That is to say, they rule out any long-term strategy by focusing solely on the short term.”

    All the counter arguments to date, “taken care of in the primaries”, etc… simply prove the point of the short term vision.

    One thing to clarify when comparing a families debt with the government, and I’m 200% for balancing the budget; the families budget considers a definite finite ending point, that generation or the death of the parents holding the debt. Thus, the debt squeezes harder because it has about 75 years to be resolved. The government doesn’t think like families or individuals but presumes a more or less quasi-infinite projection of itself at least from an earthly point of view. I.e. it budgets assuming it, the government, will more or less never end and so it projects this on its debt.

  • larry

    Todd’s point is on the mark, as was Dr. Luthers and Bror’s and many others on the same issue of third party.

    “That is to say, they rule out any long-term strategy by focusing solely on the short term.”

    All the counter arguments to date, “taken care of in the primaries”, etc… simply prove the point of the short term vision.

    One thing to clarify when comparing a families debt with the government, and I’m 200% for balancing the budget; the families budget considers a definite finite ending point, that generation or the death of the parents holding the debt. Thus, the debt squeezes harder because it has about 75 years to be resolved. The government doesn’t think like families or individuals but presumes a more or less quasi-infinite projection of itself at least from an earthly point of view. I.e. it budgets assuming it, the government, will more or less never end and so it projects this on its debt.

  • Joe

    John – reduce to its essence, your argument is that we should not vote third party because not enough other will do it an thus it would be fruitful. Well, I guess my response is, someone has to get the ball rolling. Ron Paul is sort of everyone’s favorite “non-mainstream” candidate. And, while he will not win the nomination, his vote totals this cycle are double what he garnered in the last election cycle. http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/a-living-autopsy-of-the-ron-paul-campaign/

    Moreover, recent polling suggests that 10% of the GOP vote will fallow Paul if he runs third-party.

    This suggest some real momentum for his ideas, if there is a successor to these ideas we may be only a few election cycles from these ideas being a powerful force in the internal GOP discussion.

  • Joe

    John – reduce to its essence, your argument is that we should not vote third party because not enough other will do it an thus it would be fruitful. Well, I guess my response is, someone has to get the ball rolling. Ron Paul is sort of everyone’s favorite “non-mainstream” candidate. And, while he will not win the nomination, his vote totals this cycle are double what he garnered in the last election cycle. http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/a-living-autopsy-of-the-ron-paul-campaign/

    Moreover, recent polling suggests that 10% of the GOP vote will fallow Paul if he runs third-party.

    This suggest some real momentum for his ideas, if there is a successor to these ideas we may be only a few election cycles from these ideas being a powerful force in the internal GOP discussion.

  • DonS

    larry @ 36:

    One thing to clarify when comparing a families debt with the government, and I’m 200% for balancing the budget; the families budget considers a definite finite ending point, that generation or the death of the parents holding the debt. Thus, the debt squeezes harder because it has about 75 years to be resolved. The government doesn’t think like families or individuals but presumes a more or less quasi-infinite projection of itself at least from an earthly point of view. I.e. it budgets assuming it, the government, will more or less never end and so it projects this on its debt.

    You are correct — theoretically, a stable government has an indefinite time period to arrange re-payment of debt. However, I would argue that this is a bug, not a feature. In the case of a family which chooses to assume debt, it is indebting only itself. The debt is extinguished when the debtor dies, to the extent that it exceeds estate assets. On the other hand, a government that is assuming debt for the purpose of funding entitlements and transfer payments is enabling for itself and its present citizens a higher standard of living than they have earned, at the expense of future generations. That’s immoral. Public works, which might benefit those future generations, might be different, but we don’t build much anymore. We’re mostly just shifting money around.

    And, let’s remember that we have only been talking about actual public debt here. We’re not even considering future unfunded entitlements, which have been estimated to bring total unfunded government obligations to something approaching $100 trillion. That’s $2,500,000 for our example family, making $75,000 annually.

    So, how many metrics do we need before we get serious?

  • DonS

    larry @ 36:

    One thing to clarify when comparing a families debt with the government, and I’m 200% for balancing the budget; the families budget considers a definite finite ending point, that generation or the death of the parents holding the debt. Thus, the debt squeezes harder because it has about 75 years to be resolved. The government doesn’t think like families or individuals but presumes a more or less quasi-infinite projection of itself at least from an earthly point of view. I.e. it budgets assuming it, the government, will more or less never end and so it projects this on its debt.

    You are correct — theoretically, a stable government has an indefinite time period to arrange re-payment of debt. However, I would argue that this is a bug, not a feature. In the case of a family which chooses to assume debt, it is indebting only itself. The debt is extinguished when the debtor dies, to the extent that it exceeds estate assets. On the other hand, a government that is assuming debt for the purpose of funding entitlements and transfer payments is enabling for itself and its present citizens a higher standard of living than they have earned, at the expense of future generations. That’s immoral. Public works, which might benefit those future generations, might be different, but we don’t build much anymore. We’re mostly just shifting money around.

    And, let’s remember that we have only been talking about actual public debt here. We’re not even considering future unfunded entitlements, which have been estimated to bring total unfunded government obligations to something approaching $100 trillion. That’s $2,500,000 for our example family, making $75,000 annually.

    So, how many metrics do we need before we get serious?

  • larry

    Don,

    I wasn’t arguing any validity of the method, I agree with you on this – just pointing out how the system thinks and operates.

  • larry

    Don,

    I wasn’t arguing any validity of the method, I agree with you on this – just pointing out how the system thinks and operates.

  • Abby

    Gene Simmons of “Kiss” is endorsing Romney.

  • Abby

    Gene Simmons of “Kiss” is endorsing Romney.

  • Joanne

    Is Gene Simmons in the LC-MS SAP. Who’s his DP? Gotta get that recommendation in.

  • Joanne

    Is Gene Simmons in the LC-MS SAP. Who’s his DP? Gotta get that recommendation in.

  • John

    No, Joe @37, that is not my argument. I was pointing out mathematics. The argument I’m making is that the long-term game tODD describes probably doesn’t actually exist (it should be noted that this particular game, while repeated, is also a simultaneous move game – so a losing prior period has less influence than a winning prior period, hence the game theory predicts that in the long term voting third party will actually move the GOP to the left).

  • John

    No, Joe @37, that is not my argument. I was pointing out mathematics. The argument I’m making is that the long-term game tODD describes probably doesn’t actually exist (it should be noted that this particular game, while repeated, is also a simultaneous move game – so a losing prior period has less influence than a winning prior period, hence the game theory predicts that in the long term voting third party will actually move the GOP to the left).

  • TechMike

    Considering that barely half the voters show up to the big races (57% in 2008) and much fewer for primaries: only 5% of voters in my state (Virginia) voted in this year’s primary. In 2008 only 9% voted in the primay. That means that any group that can organize 5% of the voters to show up can win a primary, and if that win can influence half of the middle, a change can happen. Realistically, it will take several years of building local networks into a congressional presence before a third party can make a respectable showing for a Presidential contest.

  • TechMike

    Considering that barely half the voters show up to the big races (57% in 2008) and much fewer for primaries: only 5% of voters in my state (Virginia) voted in this year’s primary. In 2008 only 9% voted in the primay. That means that any group that can organize 5% of the voters to show up can win a primary, and if that win can influence half of the middle, a change can happen. Realistically, it will take several years of building local networks into a congressional presence before a third party can make a respectable showing for a Presidential contest.