No one should feel obligated to vote for a candidate who doesn't represent their interests

In a democracy, people should have the liberty to vote their conscience. Now that the 2016 general election is kicking off in earnest, people are getting pressured to pick between two of the most hated presidential candidates in modern history.

While there are other choices on the ballot, Democratic and Republican party loyalists are pressuring potential voters to vote for either Hillary or Trump and arguing that a vote for an independent candidate is a de facto vote for or against Hillary or Trump.

For years independent voters have been scorned by adherents of the two major political parties in America. Aside from the fact that independents are heavily marginalized within the political process, the voters are usually berated by Democrats and Republicans. According to establishment logic, voting independent is a waste and if a voter chooses to vote independent, depending on who he/she votes for, you are somehow directly handing a vote to either the Democrat or Republican.

The establishment logic says that the Democrat and Republican are the only two “viable” options to vote for president. If you are a left leaning voter and you decide to vote for Jill Stein and the Green Party over Hillary Clinton, then you are merely handing a vote to the Republican. The same logic works on the right. Say if a right leaning voter votes for Gary Johnson and the Libertarians, then that voter is merely handing a vote to Hillary Clinton.

While numerically it is true that by voting for one candidate you are denying a vote to another. But, in a democratic system that supposedly cherishes ballots, why should it matter who takes votes away from whom?

While many staunch progressives on the left and libertarians on the right will vote independent regardless, there is a widely held system of belittlement for voters even considering voting independent. It’s the old “Nader’s Fault” tactic, which deals with the points listed above.

After Bush was handed the presidency by the Supreme Court in 2000, many Democrats blamed Ralph Nader, who was running as an independent at the time. Even today, Democrats seem to blame the loss of the 2000 election on Nader, who is said to have drawn much needed progressive votes away from Al Gore, which helped tip the race in favor of Bush.

While it cannot be mathematically denied that Nader did take potential votes away from Gore, the establishment mind is making a rather dubious claim in this line of thought. Rather than blame Nader (who only grabbed 2.7 percent of the vote by the way) for taking votes, why does the Democratic Party not assess the candidates it runs? Even if Nader was in the race, a lot more progressives and liberals would have voted for Gore if they saw Gore as more appealing.

It’s always unpopular in Democratic circles to criticize the Nader hatred, but the fact is Gore would have won if he was a better candidate (and the SCOTUS allowed a real recount in Florida). Ralph Nader and his 2.7 percentage votes didn’t cost Gore the election. Perhaps a little personal responsibility is needed in this issue.

Independents are told that their votes are worthless unless they vote for either of the two establishment parties. For a nation that prides itself on free choice, it seems that (for elections) those choices are extremely narrow. Of course your vote counts if you vote for an independent party. It counts because this is supposed to be a democracy, and you are supposed to have the right to vote your conscience without being vilified in the process.

It’s simple: it is up to the candidates to sway people with their message to vote for them, it is not beholden for voters to vote for anyone out of party loyalty. If more progressives are swayed by Jill Stein’s message and vote for her over Hillary, that’s not the shortcoming of Jill Stein. That’s a shortcoming on Hillary, and it’s time for Democrats to come to terms with this. The same goes, of course, for Republicans.

Independents are the largest voting blocs in the country, but somehow are the most marginalized and scorned. This is especially true when it comes to getting a spot in the presidential debates. While technically an independent can get on the debate stage if they get at least 15 percent average in polls, there is a catch. Many polls taken in the election do not include other candidates, or some polls include one set of candidates and not others. It becomes hard to get a 15 percent average in polls when many polls won’t include you. That is by design of course.

Vote for whoever you want. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are obligated to vote for. It is up to Hillary and Trump to persuade us to give them our vote, it is not up to the voter to bah like sheep while waiting to be sheered by an elephant or mule. Remember that your vote is special, and you owe it to no one.


  1. So let’s assume the independent vote tips the scales and Trump wins? Donald
    Trump then has the nuclear might of the US at his fingertips. That is a very scary scenario to me. Possibly an apocalyptic one. I suppose, for me, it IS a matter of voting my conscience – but my conscience tells me that the denial of weapons of mass destruction to an unstable, thin-skinned, xenophobe is more important than expressing my distain for HRC (and I have plenty). It’s not the lesser of two evils, it’s the lesser of evil.

    • Now when we look at who has talked about starting a war, and who has actually started them and then Laughed about the consequences… (“We came, we saw, He died!” – Google it) I feel the more valid Assumption is that Clinton is the one I fear more about having the Nuclear codes… She doesn’t have any real estate and buildings to protect from retaliation!! She has no skin in the game… Not hers… just ours!!

      Trump says many things to get elected… His pandering is 100% the same as Clinton’s. He is just pandering to a slightly different crowd of paranoid lemmings then she is. … But in Actuality Trump has More to lose from War than Clinton.. Real, actual things!!! Trump knows that no security in the world will be able to protect his GLOBAL holdings from retaliation and subsequent Personal loss… and we know how upset Trump gets when his shiny toys get tarnished!! With all his Bravado, who do you think will blink first???
      He can’t hide Trump Tower or Mar-a-Lago in a cave!!!

      In the Real world, Clinton is the War-Monger… Trump is the Buffoon!!

    • On the one hand we have the risk of nuclear war and the certainty of the collapse of civilization from climate change. On the other hand the risk of perpetual undeclared war and the certainty of the collapse of civilization from climate change. That’s the choice we are faced with.

    • And there’s the long term view to consider. The chances that any items on the progressive agenda will be enacted are absolute zero with Trump. Progress to date will be rolled back to the first half of the 20th century. I’ll opt for the risk of perpetual undeclared war and live to fight another day. At least until the climate kills all of us….

      • Once, the Whigs had to go away to reassemble as the Republicans. Now, both the Republicans and the Democrats have run the course of corruption, and must be replaced. Perhaps the Greens and the Libertarians can agree on the most pressing problems: Campaign finance reform, ending political corruption, climate chang (this would require the first two as pre-requisite), strict regulation of corporations, policing the police, tax reform, universal suffrage, and free education through college, including advanced degrees.

    • Gore did not lose because of Nader. Gore lost because he was a bad campaigner and couldn’t get his message across well. More on the left would have voted for Gore if Gore was more appealing to them. The Democrats had a fairly weak candidate. Nader had nothing to do with the 2000 election.

    • Sometimes destruction is called for so that something new can be built. It is beginning to look as though the USA cannot be saved. Time is running out. We don’t have time for slow change. We need a revolution. It will happen, but it may not be peaceful and certainly won’t be pleasant.

        • “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

          I am amazed that you are so much smarter than the morons who wrote that!

  2. Actually, Nader did indeed give the Presidency to Bush. Period. Those votes cast for Nader, if had been cast for Gore, would have made the SCOTUS moot. The fact is independents are one shot warriors in the revolution of the moment . If ever these folks were serious about changing the government then local elections would be filled with candidates. State legislatures would be filled with independents. gerrymandering would not be the norm, allowing all peoples the opportunity to select the candidate of choice based on the constituency. By all means, vote a 3rd party candidate, especially one who has never actually governed- governing is hard work. Just do not try and pretend that such a vote does not impact the country at large as this is simply false.

    • No, it’s Gore’s fault he did not get enough votes. If Nader made a more compelling case for his candidacy to attract voters away from Gore, then once again, that is a fault of Gore and his campaign, period. Instead of blaming an external factor, why don’t you objectively assess your candidate. Independents are the largest blocs of voters in the country, and your precious two-party duopoly depends on us during the election, yet all we ever hear is scorn. The fact is, independent candidates face a lot of uphill battles to get recognition in our corporate sponsored elections. Most of the independent candidates are elected on the local level, actually, so to say they aren’t trying to run candidates is absurd. Independent candidates would like to govern, if the electoral system would actually bother to include them. Many independent parties don’t have ballots in all 50 states, as some states are allowed to determine who is or isn’t a recognized party. Kinda hard to win in a state if you aren’t allowed on the ballot. Instead of blaming independents for your party’s bad candidates, maybe you should assess who you nominate before you nominate them.

        • If Gore was so great, WHY did he Fail to Win his own Home state??? If he had done that… Everything else became moot… Nader, Hanging Chads, Butterfly Ballots, SCOTUS… All would be meaningless if only Gore had been a good enough candidate to win at home with the People that knew him Best!!

          • If he could not win his home state, perhaps it was because he wasn’t catering to localized special interests, but trying to reason the electorate into voting in the best interests of the entire nation and the whole world. It is not the man or woman that is most important, it is the views and positions. The “American way of life” is not sustainable.

  3. Wall Street would have you hold your nose and vote for Hillary because Trump stinks worse. But if you are pragmatically vote for the lesser of two evils your choices are going to get worse. It’s OK to leave the Democratic Party. Even Jesus allowed divorce if your wife was a whore.

        • The bible says a man can divorce for adultery but can never remarry without committing adultery. He’s saying, you can leave your party if they are “unfaithful” but the analogy is you can’t join another party. see how simple.

      • If my choice were between voting for Hillary and leaving the Democratic party forever, I would leave the party, which has become just as corrupt as the Republicans. And by the way, I was pointing out Jesus as an extreme, not as a model to be followed “religiously”. When he was right he was right, and when he was wrong he was wrong.

        • So you see little difference between Clinton and Trump. Even though Trump today said he wouldn’t necessarily defend our NATO allies if attacked by Russia. Trump is CRAZY. Clinton isn’t. For me it’s that simple.

          • There is indeed a difference. Elect Trump and America goes out with a ban, like Nazi Germany, elect Clinton and America goes out with a whimper, destroyed by internal corruption, like Rome.

          • Trump is crazy. Clinton is unprincipled and corrupt. I’ll be voting for Jill Stein. If either Trump or Clinton wins, I will at least have the small satisfaction of saying, “I told you so!” as America destroys itself. Lots of misery is on the way in either case, because neither will be able to deal with the impending catastrophe, or even admit it until it is too late.

            • Trump or Clinton will win. If you don’t know that you are delusional and need help. So you are predicting the end of the US. Turns out I’ve been wasting my time with a troll. Enjoy your bomb shelter.

              • Anyone that uses the Bible as political justification for failed policy is the delusional one!! And yes.. Unless Bernie runs on the GREEN Party Ticket, probably Trump will win… OR maybe if she pays off enough people or through election Fraud and FEAR Mongering Clinton may win… and either way, like every other Empire that tried to control the World, and was blinded by it’s own purported “exceptionalism”… The Age of the USA is over… and the only ones that don’t understand that are those who are covering up and ignoring the crimes!!

              • If I had a bombshelter of concrete and rebar fifty feet underground it would not be as safe from reality as your mind.
                Trump won’t deal with climate change, and Hillary can’t because Wall Street won’t let her. Neither will deal with political corruption because spirochetes think syphilis is an ideal condition.

  4. A third party candidate – financed by one of the mainstream parties took enough votes away from an extremely well qualified candidate which lead to the re-election of a well — well seasoned hack about 20 years ago. Then there was the Ralph Nader candidacy about which I will say nothing more other than, still mad.

    • Once again, the problem is not the independent candidate. Elections are a battle of ideas, and the fact is that if an independent candidate is able to draw enough votes to deny a certain Republican/Democrat the election, the onus is not on the independent candidate that said Republican/Democrat loses the race. The fault lies squarely on the Republican/Democrat for being a bad candidate and not being persuasive enough to draw in more voters. It was not Nader’s fault that Gore lost in 2000, it was Gore’s fault and the fault of the SCOTUS. Gore could have won many more votes, but he was unfortunately a fairly weak campaigner and weak on message. No one was really inspired by Al Gore, as decent as his view may have been. If an independent is able to gain more votes, then that is the process of democracy. Maybe Democrats need to take a hard look at the candidates they nominate before they nominate them, and stop trying to play safe politics with establishment mindsets. I’m tired of everyone blaming democracy for the reason their candidate doesn’t win. People should vote for whoever they want, and have many choices available to them.

      • If Gore was so great, WHY did he Fail to Win his own Home state??? If he had done that… Everything else became moot… Nader, Hanging Chads, Butterfly Ballots, SCOTUS… All else would be meaningless if only Gore had been a good enough candidate to win at home with the People that knew him Best!!

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