Ever since I declared that I had decided to vote for neither Obama nor Romney in this year's election, I've received mixed reactions. I should say that most people have been supportive of this decision (at least to my face), but I've also heard a few criticisms as well. Most of them go along the line of one or more of these statements:
"You're wasting your vote."
"A vote for anyone else is really just a vote for _______."
"This election is too important; this is not the time to vote for someone else."
These sentiments are merely evidence of how deeply entrenched the two-party stranglehold on our country has become. These reactions are forms of manipulation to maintain the status quo of the current two-party system. And I don't necessarily mean that anyone making one of these statements is consciously trying to manipulate a vote, but it is reflective of the two-party system's attempt to protect its own position. In other words, these ideas come straight from the top and have been filtered down into the collective conscience of voters throughout our nation.
After reflecting on this, I've come to the conclusion that telling me I'm "wasting my vote" is just about the most un-American statement a person can make. Our ancestors successfully rebelled against Great Britain over two centuries ago because they had neither representation nor any vote in regard to whom their governing authorities would be. The only wasted vote is the vote not cast. To tell me that I have to vote for either this person or that person and no one else is really only one step removed from the kind of totalitarian system we rejected by fighting the Revolutionary War.
Recently, on his FaceBook page, independent presidential candidate T. J. O'Hara gave the following response to the mindset that a vote for a third party or independent candidate is a wasted vote. I encourage you to seriously consider his words:
We have been conditioned by the Parties to believe that an independent (or third party candidate) cannot possibly "win." The Parties create that belief to preclude the introduction of legitimate competition.
Then, they paint their opposing candidate as nearly satanic to create a sense of fear. Next, they leverage that fear by telling you that you have to protect yourself by voting for the "lesser of two evils" ... that to do anything else would be to "waste" your vote.
Essentially, they are telling you to surrender your vote to them because of a fear THEY created, rather than to vote your conscience for the candidate whom you truly believe offers the best solutions for our country.
Now, ask yourself: "Which is the greater waste?"
The Parties traditionally have depended upon fostering an emotional environment rather than a rational one to control the public's voting behavior. They count on their constituents to passively "do as they're told" and for frustrated independents to ultimately “fall into line.”
Interestingly enough, the United States was given birth by a handful of individuals who went against the odds. By signing the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers were effectively challenging the greatest power on Earth at that time. I, for one, am happy that they had the courage to challenge the political paradigm.
The question for every American on November 6th will be: "Do I have that type of courage, or will I just fall into line and do as I'm told?"
I am reminded of a quote by Albert Einstein: "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."
If you care enough about our country to do something, please visit http://tjohara.com/participate to find out how you can make a difference.
While I don't know if I would ever find a candidate with whom I agree 100% on every issue, that's not actually what I'm looking for. Rather, I'm at a point in my life that I want merely to find a candidate I can support with good conscience as opposed to voting for "the lesser of two evils." I should not be limited to only two choices and neither should you.
Every election will be important. If we were to wait for a time when it would be "okay" to vote for an alternative candidate, we would never end up making a true vote of conscience. But if enough Americans would join in and vote by conscience and not by party loyalty or or for some sake of a strategy just to keep someone else from being elected, we might eventually see a break from the two-party stranglehold that we currently experience and finally have the nation pay attention to a variety of serious and meaningful choices.
Hopefully...in my lifetime.
As always, your thoughts, questions, comments and/or rebuttals are welcome below.