Libertarians, Idealists, Realists, and the Wasted Vote Nonsense

Updated on August 7, 2017
Garry Reed profile image

Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.

Fish food for the Piranha

The more donkey and elephant ballots it eats the bigger the beast becomes
The more donkey and elephant ballots it eats the bigger the beast becomes | Source


It’s time to get over the wasted vote nonsense once and for all.

Your vote is your vote, not somebody else’s. Only you can decide what your vote means and whether it’s wasted. Like it or not, agree with it or not, your vote is a symbol of your moral principles, a direct message from your character, a vivid spotlight on your values.

What is your “vote?” A betting slip in a two-horse race between the Democratic Stables nag and the Republican Farms mudder? So go ahead and bet it as you always have and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten; a horse laugh from a horse’s ass. But if that’s what you really want your vote wasn’t wasted. If you expected something better you wasted it.

Is your vote a voucher for the Lesser of Two Evils freakshow? Hand it to the ticket-taker and go on in; you’re guaranteed to get Evil, even as others are voting for their Lesser Evil and getting it. Nothing changes except the type of evil you’ve all voted for.

Is your vote a “Patriotic Duty?” If you think it’s “patriotic” to keep enabling power-craving sociopaths to dictate virtually every aspect of everyone’s life you might want to reconsider exactly what “patriotic” means and then decide if you’re wasting your vote or not. Libertarians see nothing more “patriotic” about voting for politicians than they see “patriotic” about voting to replace one criminal mob boss with another.

Is your vote a “message?” That would mean you’re not casting it for a person but for an idea, not choosing a candidate but making a statement, not trying to pick a winner but to make a point. It’s back to that principles-character-values thing again. It means you’re voting to make a statement about what you really believe and care about.

Some refuse to vote at all. Is it a matter of principle not to vote? If so then not voting is the best thing to do with your vote. Voting isn’t mandatory, it’s voluntary, and voting for anyone you don’t want to sanction would be the waste.

Libertarians, being libertarians, instinctively understand all of this. They know their Libertarian Party ticket isn’t expected to win, and their vote, and whether or how to use it, is a matter of their philosophical convictions. What follows is not an exhaustive review of every possibility on how or why or why not to use a vote but just a few thoughts to be considered.

Needed: Idealists and Realists

Can all libertarians work together to take realistic steps toward idealistic goals?
Can all libertarians work together to take realistic steps toward idealistic goals? | Source

1. Reality: A presidential vote is good only in the voter’s home state. You’re voting for electors, not president. All but two states are winner-take-all. Most states are foregone conclusions where everyone knows the Republican or the Democrat will win so in either case a person’s one vote is a wasted vote because nobody outside of a tiny village or school board runoff ever wins these things by one vote. To not waste your vote put it where it will do the most good: Give it to the Libertarian Party. The more votes they get year after year after year the sooner they’ll eventually break the two-party monopoly power grip on our lives.

2. Voluntaryist libertarians: Government is a criminal enterprise and voting makes the voter complicit in the criminality. But really? Is helping the LP grow helping the government grow any different than helping a potential victim defend herself from a known rapist? That’s participating in criminality, isn’t it? The LP participates in government as an advocate against government. But voluntaryists have their well-thought out principles and refusing to vote is a principled refusal: Don’t vote, it only validates them.

3. LP Members: The Libertarian Party with its “Maximum Freedom, Minimum Government” service mark has a “minarchist” libertarian policy that means minimizing – but not rejecting all – coercion, intimidation and fraud. They’re still willing to extort taxes from people to pay for police, courts and military. Libertarians should vote for their candidates only if they see this as a “good start” toward a truly free non-government post-statist society that eliminates sociopaths from positions of coercive power and leads to a consumer-based laissez-faire free market in the broadest sense of the term “market” which simply means “human interaction.”

John Galt Syndrome

The cure? Get over it, get up, get out and about.
The cure? Get over it, get up, get out and about. | Source

4. Libertarian perfectionists: Some Libertarians are more libertarian than other libertarians. There are no “perfect” libertarian except the individual who thinks he or she is one. Ron Paul wasn’t, but he came closer than any other mainstream politician in modern times. Would voting for him have been a waste of your vote? “Gary Johnson is a terrible libertarian” says an article by stormqvist. Suggestion: If you can find a better one vote for him. Otherwise he will at least introduce the word “libertarian” to those who have never heard it before. And then people like Stormqvist can move on to number 5.

5. Educational Libertarians: Politics is the practical application of philosophy. Without a libertarian philosophy there can be no libertarian politics. Education comes first, and that’s where the “Gary Johnson is a terrible libertarian” detractors can step in. If they can’t vote for Johnson they can at least “vote for” libertarianism in general. There are many ways to educate people new to the movement. Some do it with writing, with music, with videos, with art, with speaking, with teaching, with activism, with running for political office as a publicity generator.

Voting after all is just one little way to help advance the cause of freedom from government monopoly power. The LP is best when it performs as an educational platform; introduce the ideas today for new voters tomorrow.

Who would have thought that in a place like America the concepts of individual freedom and personal responsibility would ever be considered a loony fringe belief? Freedom and responsibility are the fundamental essence of libertarianism. But then, who would have thought that the restoration of those ideals could only be obtained through a demand for 100% pure libertarianism right now or else nothing. That seems like the true loony fringe belief.

If you can’t stand, can’t support, can’t vote for the Libertarian Party candidates then at least encourage, advocate, educate others and live your vision of libertarianism. The alternative is the death of freedom.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


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    • Garry Reed profile imageAUTHOR

      Garry Reed 

      2 years ago from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

      A positive review! Rare and welcomed! Thanks!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Damn you're good! Thank you


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