Voting third-party is just an excuse to avoid a tough decision

Voting can be hard. In the middle of a hectic life, you try to be a good citizen by carving time out of your schedule to find out who’s running, who you plan on voting for and how you are going to cast your vote. It gets harder when the two main candidates to choose from are, frankly, terrible. 

In the American political system, you really have just two options: Republican or Democrat. Each party gets about 35% of the votes, and the leftover 30% are the swing voters who really decide which party gets elected. Third-party candidates receive a few votes but nothing over a few small percentage points.

As political candidates get crazier and the choices become harder, some feel forced to cast their vote third-party because they don’t like either of the two main-party candidates. Hunky-dory. They didn’t cave to the two-party system because they chose not to vote for either of the big parties’ bad candidates, maintaining their clean conscience and refusing to vote for a person who will do a bad job.

This, however, is actually an act of cowardice.

I send my deepest condolences to them, but let’s walk a mile in Pennsylvania voters’ shoes. They have to pick between an out-of-touch New Jersey millionaire or a slowly recovering stroke victim progressive — it’s like “Would You Rather” but in real life and a constitutional right.

There are two options for those struggling with their decision: hesitantly picking one of the two or voting third-party. As Kylo Ren said in “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.”

To those who hesitantly picked one, you made the right choice — you knew what you had to do, and you had the strength to do it. Dr. Mehmet Oz and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman are the only two candidates that have a chance of winning. Anything else is a cop-out from a tough decision.

To those who voted third-party, there is no gold star for you.

Say you are on the conservative side, and the thought of voting for Oz just appalls you to the point where you can’t bring yourself to do it. You can either vote for Fetterman or a third party — those are the only possible options. If the thought of voting for Oz disgusts you so much that you would rather Fetterman win, then just vote for Fetterman. Don’t dance around your feelings like “Ring Around the Rosie.”

But if you check the box next to a third-party candidate, you have soul-searching to do. You know that no-name candidate you voted for has no shot of winning, yet you voted for them anyway. You have to be able to answer the question, “Who would you rather win, Oz or Fetterman?” Those are the only real options.

If your conscience won’t allow you to vote for Oz, then vote for Fetterman, but don’t use the third option as an excuse to avoid following through on your tough decision and say, “Well, I didn’t vote for either of the bad guys, so I’m clean.” If you look deep inside, you know that you would rather Fetterman win than Oz in this case, so why not just vote for Fetterman and be intellectually honest with yourself?

Rather than having a clean conscience, voting third-party means you actually carry the consequences of voting poorly no matter who wins. If the winner of the election does worse than the alternative would have, you are directly responsible because you did not vote for a real alternative. If the winner does a good job despite you not voting for him, you don’t get any credit but only luck.

No matter how tough the decision may be, are you going to tell me there is seriously nothing that could make you decide? Climate, abortion, inflation, crime — none of those do it for you? The direction of an entire chamber of Congress potentially depends on your pen mark, and you can’t decide? Baloney.

The situation in Pennsylvania is only one example, merely a parable with which the consequences of third-party voting can be dismantled. There are many close House and Senate elections with tremendous outcomes happening across the country in November. The same principle applies to each of those difficult elections: you can’t vote third-party.  

Browder is the opinion editor for the Liberty Champion

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