Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Voting for the "Lesser of Two Evils"

As we approach this coming Presidential election, I keep hearing from people (mainly conservatives) who dislike both candidates and want to vote third party. While it’s extremely frustrating and even maddening that we are (again) facing a Presidential election where there is no real conservative candidate, voting third party is not a valid option for those of us who really care about our country and protecting the freedoms we have.

Let me tell you why.

In setting the stage for this argument, there are a few facts that we should consider. First of all, keep in mind that there are only two major viewpoints with respect to government and its role. Either you are in favor of limited government that simply protects the inalienable rights of the people (conservatism) or you are in favor of big government that runs your life and distributes “free” stuff (liberalism). Now, the details of what individual policies and laws should be made to further those viewpoints may differ a good deal among individuals, but there are only those two major views.

Another thing to realize is that our country is nearly evenly split between conservatives and liberals. Even if we could come up with a viable third party that was more conservative than either existing party, that would only split the conservative vote. Even if the majority of current conservatives got on board with this new party, it would still not have enough supporters to win elections. Much as I hate to say it, we need the nominal conservatives right now, and they need us.

The third thing to remember is that it is a fact of life in the U.S. (at least for now) that one of the candidates from the two main parties will win. For better or for worse, we have only two main parties. There are valid arguments to be made that we need a different system, and it is good to work toward that goal. However, for now we have to face the reality of our present system. Specifically, in this coming election we have only two real choices for President. We have to choose one of those two. Third party candidates may be on the ballot, but they don't have any real possibility of winning.

With those facts in mind, voting third party has the same effect of sitting the election out. A vote for a third party (for President, anyway) at this point in history is a totally wasted vote. The whole purpose of a vote is to help a candidate win. Presidential candidates who don't win don't make changes, don’t sign laws, don't make new policies, and don't appoint Supreme Court justices. Only the winner gets any political power. So, if the purpose of voting is to help a candidate win, then any vote for someone who can't possibly win is a wasted vote. You might as well stay home as vote third party.

A lot of conservatives say that a third party vote is a protest vote. It’s a way of telling the establishment that you’re unhappy with the current candidate and want them to make changes in the future. That sounds good in theory. Unfortunately, nobody is listening to the "protest votes." How do I know? Well, let's see...people who don't like the chosen candidate (because he isn't perfect) have been going third party for years now. Did anyone in the establishment listen to this protest? No. Look at the current candidates. Are they better or worse than they used to be? Enough said.

A lot of people try to justify voting third party by saying that the "lesser of two evils" is still evil and they won't vote for such. But in every election there is a lesser of two evils. There is no perfect candidate. Last I checked, Jesus wasn't running. So you can look at it as voting for the lesser of two evils or you can think of it as voting for the better of two imperfect options. Either way, we need to stand in the gap to prevent as much evil as possible.

You've heard it said that "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Well, not voting or voting third party is "doing nothing" and, consequently, allowing the triumph of evil. Considering the even split in viewpoints in our country, we need every vote we can get in order to win. Every vote that goes third party diminishes the votes that could have gone to a viable candidate. The crux of the issue is this: whether you stay home or vote third party, when you fail to vote for the "lesser of two evils," you enable election of the greater evil. It's as simple as that. Considering what's at stake in this election, this is not the time to let an unattainable ideal become the enemy of a step in the right direction.

Linked up with WLWW and NOBH.


  1. Great article. Another point some bring up is, "I can't vote for a non-christian Mormon" to be President.
    Christians have voted for non-Christians in the past with some success. Go back to Thomas Jefferson, who arguably was not at least what most would consider an "evangelical" Christian, known for his "edited" edition of the Bible that took out all the miracles and certainly was not doctrinal sound. But Thomas Jefferson is considered one of the great American Presidents.

    1. Yes, I have heard that argument as well. If we were electing a pastor or other church leader, then it would be very important to have someone who was a Christian. And, of course, I would prefer to have someone who is a Christian as President. But having a Christian faith is not a prerequisite for being President or for getting my vote. The job of President of the United States is a secular job. If you don't require your garbage collector, your doctor, or the cashier who rings you up at the grocery store to be Christians, why your President?

      The thing is, being a non-Christian does not mean someone cannot be a good President (as hostory will attest). Nor does being a Christian automatically qualify someone for that position. Voting in a Presidential election is about choosing the best candidate - the one most qualified to do the job right. It's not about popularity. It's not about image. It's not about whose club they belong to. It's about who will do the best job of leading the people of this country and protecting their inalienable rights. I would much rather have a Mormon who will do the job better than a professed Christian who is totally incompetent.

  2. you hit the nail square on the head-both with your post and your response to the previous comment. I just found your blog through the link up at tolovehonorandvacuum.. enjoyed that post also.

    1. Thanks Tascha. Welcome to my blog. If you liked this post, you may like my series on What it Means to Be Conservative (which is still in progress) and my Inalienable Rights series. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. Lindsay- you used that quote that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing and you advocate for voting. Do you think that believers need to vote when they have prayer as a means to fight evil? How do you see that quote as a duty for believers- is that our mission, goal, objective? And is that how God expects us to fight evil- by voting? Of course, not just voting...but relying on voting to change the world?

    1. It's not either-or. We can and should vote AND pray. We don't have to stop praying in order to vote. We don't have to stop voting in order to pray. So we should do the most good we can do through both praying and voting. Only in very rare cases is there reason to abstain because both sides are too immoral to support. In most elections, there is a candidate who is better than the other and we should support that candidate.