It used to be called a ballot box, I think. Ages ago, when you’d write your vote on a ballot and slide the important slip of paper inside.
But now it seems we should rechristen–okay, rename (separation of church and state, y’all!)–the thing. I’ve had this conversation a thousand times this year. I’ve had it with my parents, with neighbours and strangers and strange neighbours and stranger friends.
I had it again this morning in the comments of this post by Mike Duran.
Novelist Nicole Petrino-Salter said this, but she’s far from the first person to have done so. I’m just using her words because they’re the most recent:
You can vote for whomever you like, but don’t kid yourself that a third, fourth, fifth, or so on candidate is a worthwhile vote. You don’t have to like the two-party system, but that’s what we have right now. And it isn’t “manipulation” to suggest a vote for any other candidate besides the Dem or Repub in this election is a meaningful vote. It will subtract from one or the other, and Obama has proven he can’t lead anywhere but to desolation.
My response to her there is my response to everyone everywhere who makes this argument. I’ll repeat it here because it’s very important to me, and since this blog is a record of who I am I think this must be a prominent part.
My vote is my voice. My tacit assent for the values and ideals displayed by the candidate for whom I’m voting.
I do not cast my vote lightly. I do not cast my vote out of fear or a sense of gamesmanship. I do not stand up as a free woman, in front of my God and my countryman and say “yes, I support this person as my choice to serve us and lead us” unless I actually think and feel that the name on the ballot I cast is worthy of my approval.
That is not a worthless vote, because I am not a worthless person and my values and ideals are not worthless either.
No, my vote for a third party candidate will not “subtract” from Obama or Romney because my vote does not de facto belong to Obama or Romney. My vote belongs to ME.