If there were a morally acceptable candidate offered by either major party, of course you could vote for that person in clear conscience. There isn’t, and therefore many people are settling for choosing the least-bad candidate.
Don’t do this.
Vote third party.
Voting third party is the most effective way for you to bring about a change of regime.
It’s more effective than a write-in campaign (barring a massive, united, nationwide campaign, which I don’t see happening). It’s certainly more effective than abstaining — no one will notice you’re missing, and other than a few kind souls at the League of Women Voters, no one will much care that you couldn’t be bothered to show up.
When you vote third party, you send a clear, unequivocal message that is formally recorded and measured. You indicate to the major parties, and to the rest of the citizenry, which way the reform needs to go in order to field a winning candidate.
Voting third party will not cause the person you cast your vote for to win. It will, however, cause the next round of candidates, at every level of elected office, to seek to be more like what it would take to win your vote.
Candidates need your vote. They watch the polls and try to read the wind and guess which way to shift in order to ride popular opinion.
By voting third party, you most clearly communicate what your expectations are and how the next cycle’s candidates need to be different. Among other benefits, voting third party informs the major parties what kinds of candidates they should support at the local and state level — which candidates feed the system for the years ahead.
If you care about the future, don’t settle for the sick feeling that comes from knowing that you helped fuel the victory of some person whose policies you abhor. Vote like you mean for your republic to still be a functioning democracy ten, twenty, even two-hundred years from now.
I voted against in the last couple of elections and see where that got me? Supporting people I was less than crazy about while losing anyway.
Bethune Catholic’s comment above realigned my priorities. Yes, vote for someone. They probably aren’t perfect. After all, if you are Catholic there is no political party that is going to live up to your goals completely.
But it’s a positive action that serves as a witness to the sort of leader I wish we had. And that’s the best I can do.
Building on Jim’s observations:
Why do we have legal same-sex marriage, absurd gender issues, women in combat, women poised to be required to register for the draft, continued abortion on the demand, and host of other problems, both economic, moral and financial?
I could make a good case that it is precisely because men and women of good conscience continue to vote against that conscience, election cycle after election cycle. And because of that the Republican party knows it can ignore moral and social issues and give us the likes of McCain and Romney as nominees, and now Trump. These guys lose anyway, so why not vote for someone better?
The beauty of voting 3rd party is that you don’t even have to find the perfect candidate. All you have to do is look for a candidate who’s different in the way that effectively communicates the difference you’d like to see.