Choosing third-party candidate isn’t throwing away your vote

If you’re conflicted over this election, we take that as a sign that you’re a discerning voter.

We hope your inner conflict won’t discourage you from casting a ballot, especially for many RCTC students who are eligible to vote this fall for the first time. The Echo’s belief in the importance of elections is succinctly explained by our favorite T-shirt slogan of the season: “Not voting isn’t an act of rebellion, it’s an act of surrender.”

If you can’t bring yourself to support either major-party candidate, there are other options. Nine presidential candidates are on Minnesota’s ballot.

If you lean right, there are several candidates who align better with your views other than Republican nominee Donald Trump, such as Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle or independent candidate Evan McMullin. If you lean left but can’t comfortably vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, you can choose Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Democrats will tell you that voting for a third-party candidate is throwing away your vote and enabling Trump’s campaign. Republicans will tell you that voting for a third-party candidate is throwing away your vote and enabling Clinton’s campaign.

They both can’t be right.

Voting third party is the only intellectually honest response when the major parties put forth unacceptable candidates. It sends a message to the political establishment that you won’t mindlessly follow empty rhetoric and be taken for granted. If enough of us vote our conscience, the winner — which will undoubtedly be Clinton or Trump — will ascend to the presidency by plurality but can’t honestly claim a mandate.

Minnesota, the state that elected Jesse Ventura governor, has a history of independent voting. In the Democratic caucuses, we chose Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over Mrs. Clinton. On the Republican side, we provided Florida Sen. Marco Rubio with his only victory of the primary campaign.

If you truly believe that either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump best represent your views, go ahead and cast your ballot for them. But if you’re conflicted by the thought of voting for either one, don’t buy into the myth that they are the only worthy candidates to choose from.

There are only two ways to throw away your vote — not showing up at the polls, or casting a ballot for someone you don’t believe in.

It’s just as important to vote for other offices, ranging from your representative in Congress, state legislature, school board, city council, county commissioner, district court judge and soil and conservation district supervisor.

If you don’t recognize the names on the ballot, don’t let that discourage you from voting. There’s still time to familiarize yourself with the candidates.

After all, the fact that you’re reading this editorial is even more evidence that you’re a discerning voter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *