This year I feel optimistic about the presidential election of course about this time in 2012 I also felt a sense of hope because I saw a candidate that was very unlike most of the other candidates. I saw a person who wasn’t just spouting soundbites and whose policies I could stand behind. I saw a person who was not afraid to call out the government on it’s refusal to adhere to lawful limitations. This person called out the other party for actions not in accordance with law but also called out his own party for doing the same thing. This person was not Barack Obama, it was Ron Paul and my biggest criticism of him was that he was running on the Republican ticket. As many black people I didn’t consider Republicans to be a viable option because I was told that Republicans didn’t like black people and there were frequent enough examples provided when some Republican politician or pundit would say something that reflected a lack of respect for people of color.
I believe what most made me curious was Michael Steele the former chairman of the RNC. He wasn’t the first black republican I had heard speak but he was the first black republican I can remember reaching out to black people from a position that demonstrated that he respected black people, and acknowledged the struggle that is unique to individuals of African descent. So after watching Michael Steele address the predominately black audience at the Black State of the Union I started to investigate what was different about the Republicans policy wise. I eventually discovered that Republicans were the party of small government which didn’t sound all that bad to me. But I wondered why hadn’t I heard that before?
It didn’t take long for me to discover the source of my confusion. You see although I often heard Republicans talk about a smaller government I hadn’t seen them put this policy into practice. But then came Ron Paul and he was genuinely advocating for smaller government from challenging the central bank called the Federal Reserve to calling for an end to the War on Drugs. But ultimately Ron Paul was unable to secure the nomination and I hoped that he would run for the Libertarian nomination like Gary Johnson had decided to. It was during this time that I heard the argument made constantly about wasting the vote.
There were people who supported Ron Paul , who acknowledged that none of the other Republicans were actually committed to shrinking government but still would not vote for a third party even if Ron Paul was nominated for that third party because they felt that would be wasting their vote. Because they would be taking a vote away from the Republican nominee and handing the presidency to the Democrats.
Fast forward to this election cycle where Rand Paul picked up his father’s mantle… sort of. Rand Paul decided to run a more pragmatic campaign, to be less confrontational with his fellow Republicans and to dilute his message to make it more palatable for the non-libertarians in the party and particularly to gain the favor of some of the establishment Republicans who run the party. Using that strategy Rand Paul never led the crowded pack of GOP candidates and didn’t even make it to New Hampshire the second state in the nomination process. That leaves a bunch of candidates who will continue to increase the size of government and a Republican frontrunner who may very well be even more wasteful than at least one of the Democratic candidates.
I had a conversation with an individual who said he would vote for the current frontrunner of the Republicans because he’s the lesser of two evils. I asked the obvious question, why not vote Libertarian?
His inevitable response was that he didn’t want to waste his vote on a third party that won’t ever get elected. My response: Voting for a republican who will support big government is a wasted vote. You see there are those of us who watch the political scene in amazement about how gullible many of the voters are and how they fall for the simple tricks these politicians play on the public over and over. We laugh at how transparent these charlatans are and how blind the masses are to support these candidates. We talk to each other about how much smarter we are than your average “low information voter”, and then we vote for the same people they’re voting for. So how smart are we really? Do we recognize all the cons politicians play or have we been falling for one of their most basic ploys over and over again?
If we know that a politician is not going to enact policies that we don’t support or agree with and are still willing to vote for them aren’t we telling politicians that our votes have no power? If we are going to exercise power over politicians we have to let them know we are willing to let them go down in flames if they do not stand on the issues of importance. Especially as a Libertarian the message we send to politicians by voting republican or democrat is that the parties don’t have to embrace Libertarian principles they just have to say one thing to appease us never even delivering on it to get out votes. And if politicians don’t have to do anything to get us to cast a ballot for them isn’t that a wasted vote?