Whenever I tell someone that I voted for Gary Johnson, the first reaction I get is along the lines of “You shouldn’t have wasted your vote.” Even within my own family, that is the response I get. I really can’t help but take offense to this. “Wasted my vote” indicates that I might as well have not voted, implying that my input isn’t important to society and that it didn’t really matter that I took part in my civic duty of voting.
Now, that said, I can understand the reasoning behind the statement. We live in a two-party system, in which both parties combined have a ridiculous amount of political power to shut others out. So a libertarian candidate’s chances of winning an election pretty much round down to zero, but given my political views, I really didn’t have much of a choice but to vote for Johnson.
From my perspective, Obama and Romney are nearly identical, with their differences being equally distasteful. But this is not a conclusion I came to lightly. For a long time I’ve considered voting for Romney or voting for Obama, but even going up to the results Wednesday night, I didn’t really care who won, and when the results came out, I was still indifferent.
So for me, there really was no lesser-of-two-evils candidate to choose, so I chose to vote for my own principles. But a vote for a third party solely out of principle is NOT a wasted vote. Third parties, though not able to gain office very often, do have a large amount of influential power. Had Johnson won 5 percent of the popular vote, there would probably be a noticeable shift to more libertarian views in the government. But that’s not the only reason why my vote did have value.
I also voted for Gary Johnson knowing that if other libertarian-minded voters chose to vote for Johnson as I did, he would have a shot at the presidency, or at least significant political influence. This is the same mentality I have for choosing to vote. While my individual vote may not mean much, if everyone chose not to vote because of that, there wouldn’t be any election. So while my individual vote for Johnson may not mean much, collectively it is a much more significant statement.
Now, after the election Wednesday night, Gary Johnson did not win a very noticeable portion of the vote, nor did he win the election. However, this doesn’t make my vote a waste any more than it makes a Romney voter’s vote a waste. I voted for the principles that I believe in, but though I lost that vote, I am still glad I voted and made an effort to stand for what I believe in the election.
So even though the candidate I voted for doesn’t stand much of a chance compared to candidates who have tons money and media support, my vote still had meaning in this election. I wanted my principles to enter the political discussion, and I felt that I had a collective duty to stand for my libertarian principles. The best way for me to do these things was to vote for Gary Johnson, and it was not a waste.