L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 187, August 19, 2002
IN MEMORIAM, SAMMY AND VICKI
Fine, Throw Your Vote Away!
Exclusive to TLE
In today's world, the damning phrase "third party" conjures up images of a suspiciously trustworthy Ralph Nader, or a balding and blunt Ross Perot. The solution to government subterfuge, they seem to assert, is political subterfuge. We, as educated American voters, know that a vote for a third party candidate, no matter how tempting, is just as ineffectual in the election process as a vote for Big Bird. But whether you fill in "Russ Troll" on your next presidential ballot, or defiantly vote for the heir to the Harry Browne throne, you are doing something more than throwing your vote away. You're making a statement. The question is, what kind?
As not only my eighteenth birthday but also the November election looms ahead, I am faced with the same important decisions that all you registered voters out there have made before me. To vote, or not to vote. To choose, the lesser of two evils, or to choose neither. In a famous Simpsons episode, the American public is "forced" to elect one of two ambitious aliens with earthly domination as his first campaign promise. When someone remarks "I believe I'll vote for a third party candidate!" A slime-drooling candidate retorts "Fine! Throw your vote away!" Is that what it comes down to? The satirical brilliance of The Simpsons has deftly pointed out an alarming flaw in the American political system.
America has been fooled. Those wily politicians have pulled the biggest one over us since Pearl Harbor. No, I should probably say since Teapot-Dome, or the National Bank, because this all started much earlier than FDR. They have forced us to take sides. They have eliminated our options. They have made us think that there are only two answers, two ways of thinking, two candidates, and that we must choose between them. Yes, I believe that if two puke-green and badly- in-need-of-orthodontia creatures from outer space ran for office, one espousing the views of democrats and the other championing republicans, we would elect one of them. We would not turn to a third party. We have been brainwashed into rejecting that choice. Come on. Bush-Gore? Why didn't we as a country say "enough is enough! We'd rather vote for the nice man who takes our tolls. We'll vote for anyone, anyone, before we elect one of you two scum balls. Or we'll, gasp, not vote at all"?
The answer is, some of us did say that. But not enough.
And the problem is, the message was lost. Because you see, the folks who stayed home on election day -- though their cause is more noble than those who voted for Bush just so they'd feel like they'd had a hand in the decision -- forgot to tell anyone what they were protesting. If you walk around with a sticker slapped across your bottom that reads "I won't be voting on November 5th because the candidates suck," well then more power to you. But to those of you who just flicked on the TV, and thought about how much better you were than those of us who had stooped to participating in the political system, I pose a question: What did you think you were proving?
Indignant, self-righteous libertarians accuse voters of condoning a political system that deceives, plunders, and even kills. Yet these same self-righteous folk still live within this country's borders. If we choose to live here, choose to pay taxes rather than sit in jail, choose to read the mail that the post office delivers, well then we are all condoning the United States government. We are all supporting it. You chose it, too. Maybe not with a vote -- maybe only with a check or a smile -- but you chose it. I have already picked the United States.
Thomas Jefferson watched his dream of strict constitutionalism whither in the hands of John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. He watched "states' rights" and "loose federation" die their first of many deaths (more would follow under Lincoln, FDR, and countless others). Yet he neither left nor condemned the United States. He, in fact, became its president. You see, we have a term for Jefferson's plight: it's called political dissension. And, thanks to men like Jefferson, you too have recourse. It's called a vote.
And if you choose not to vote, and you still choose to live here, breathe here, and collect mail here, I hope you're planning a revolution. I hope you're stockpiling arms and rallying support. But you're not. The food's too good, the money's too easy, and you're too lazy. The truth is, you like it here. So you've already voted, you've voted with your feet. And if you're too damn lazy to go to the polls and make the same decision with your hand, then don't lecture me about morality.
Do you wanna make a difference? Do you wanna make a statement? Then take a deep breath and go to the polls. Do not pick the lesser of two evils. Vote only for the candidates you support. DO NOT place a vote for governor, there isn't a suitable candidate and you'd only be wasting your time. Give the world the message that we libertarians are not lazy self-righteous nutcases. Tell them that we are willing to get off our butts and stand in line to place even just a single vote for Matt Beauchamp. Your incomplete ballot will make a far greater statement than its absence. People keep statistics on this. Libertarian votes mean something. Poor poll attendance only implies apathy. But a vote for the libertarians? That means rebellion. Dissension. Non-compliance.
The libertarian party is the only established, long-term third party in America. The green party isn't a party, it's a whim. We're a party. Take some pride in that. Get our views out there. Don't worry so much about getting people elected right now. It's not that big of a victory. Getting somebody elected within the current system wouldn't have too much effect anyway. That's just us saying "Hi, I'm a libertarian, and I believe I'm more qualified to run your life than you are." And that's what all those non-voters are worried about. But if we don't compromise our values for popularity, if we get our candidates on the news, if we give them credibility with our votes, we can do more than get someone elected -- we can change the current political climate. And the more votes that roll in, the more influence we'll have. It's a beautiful cycle, and it can end in change. Change for this country. Change for you. Real change. Not just a few "sort of" libertarians in minor political offices. No, I'm talking about a nation of freedom. I'm talking about rights. I'm talking about putting accountability back in government. It can happen. But only with your vote.
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