Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Third Party Voting

Over at the new Crescat Sententia, Will Baude and Matt Reading are defending the position that casting third party votes is not a waste. I seldom vote for a third party, but I agree it's not a waste. True, a vote for Nader or Buchanan in 2000 might have helped throw the election to your less favored major party candidate, but this presumes two things: A) The two party system is inevtable in American politics and B) The immediate election is all that matters.

Leaving A aside, I often find myself disagreeing with B. By voting for a third party, you're not just casting a vote for a candidate unlikely to win, you're withholding it from major candidates while showing you will still participate in the process. Assuming enough people do the same thing, the major parties will then try to figure out how they can get your vote. This has basically been the history of third parties in the U.S., most notably the Populists and Progressives of 100 years ago, whose issues were adopted by one or another of the major parties. In fact, I would argue that if you felt strongly enough about the Green Party in 2000, you absolutely should have wanted to cost Gore the election to show the democrats that your concerns as a voter couldn't be ignored.

UPDATE: Samer Ismail has an interesting spin-off of this discussion.


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