The “throw away your vote” fallacy

If you vote for a third party or an independent candidate, some say, you are throwing away your vote.

So your vote has meaning only if you vote for someone who could win?  That makes no sense to me. [Read more…]

Voting for a candidate without “supporting” him

Political scientist James Campbell doesn’t like Donald Trump much, but he is still going to vote for him.  He argues that there is a difference between “supporting” a candidate and “voting” for him.  He says that he does not “support” Trump–rather, he will feel free to criticize him and denounce him–and yet he will still vote for him, since the alternative is Hillary Clinton.

What do you think of Campbell’s distinction?  Is he parsing those words too fine?  Isn’t voting for someone a tangible act of support, indeed, the support that really matters?  Or is he providing a helpful way forward for anti-Trump conservatives? [Read more…]

Outcome-based vs. morality-based voting

A lot of us dislike both of the major party candidates.  Quite a few of us also dislike the minor party and independent candidates.  So we are agonizing over what to do come election day.  Perhaps it would help to think through what factors should enter into the act of voting.

The usual approach is to consider which candidate, in your opinion, would be the best in office.  Or, whleast bad.  The focus is on the outcome or possible outcome of the election.

John Mark Reynolds proposes another approach.  He gives a scenario of an election between three very-flawed 19th century candidates.  (He says nothing about the current presidential election, though we know what he means.)

He argues that one person’s vote will do little to have an impact on the election’s outcome.  But it will have an impact on the person casting the vote.  Voting for an evil candidate–even the lesser of two evils–involves the voter in that evil.  Presumably, though Reynolds does not say this, the best solution would be not to vote at all.  Reynolds is arguing for what we could call morality-based voting.

What do you think of his argument (excerpted and linked to after the jump)?

Is there a moral duty to vote?  Is Reynold’s approach a moralistic quest for purity that evades our responsibility as we live in a fallen world?

What are other ways to think about voting?  What other factors should be considered? [Read more…]

Millennials make political gestures, but don’t vote

Only a small percentage of the Millennial generation vote, according to a new study.  That’s not to say they aren’t interested in politics.  But they tend to express that interest by doing things like putting rainbows on their FaceBook pages and making other online gestures rather than actually voting.  Political views become identity markers, like the clothes they wear or the music they listen to, rather than anything having to do with actually governing.  Of course, Millennials are not the only ones who feel this way without voting.  This may explain today’s political landscape, which is big on image and ideology, but weak on pragmatic policy. [Read more…]

Mandatory voting?

President Obama appeared to endorse mandatory voting as a way to get money out of politics.  In countries that have mandatory voting laws, if you don’t cast a ballot, you have to have to pay fines or other penalties.  American polls show that most people who don’t vote support Democrats, which, of course, doesn’t do Democrats much good.  I’ve read that in Australia, which punishes non-voters, the effect is a kind of stasis, since so many of those who cast a ballot really don’t care, cancelling out the votes of partisan true believers.  What’s the problem with compulsory voting?  I believe it was Sartre who said that the essence of freedom is the ability to say “no,” and saying “no” to all of the candidates would seem to be essential to democracy.  But what do you think? [Read more…]

Election Day

Today we Americans are privileged to participate in what has been called the “civic sacrament” of voting.

Elections for public office are not new, of course.  They were staples of the Greek democracy and the Roman republic.  The papacy has always been an elected position.  In medieval Europe, the Emperor was elected, the main difference from our elections being that only seven people got to vote (including the Duke of Saxony, which is why one holder of that office, Frederick the Wise, had the clout to prevent Martin Luther from being burned at the stake).

Pundits expect a big day for Republicans, who may well gain a majority on the Senate.   Any predictions? [Read more…]