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Is Voting for a 3rd Option a Wasted Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election?

Monday, October 24, 2016 15:33
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In a brief piece entitled, “Election 2016 Thoughts – Part One: A vote for a 3rd Candidate is not a Wasted Vote or a Vote for Clinton” by Baptist21 contributor, Nathan Akin, five reasons are listed as to why Akin believes a 3rd candidate vote for president in the 2016 election is not in vain. With a degree in political science, we might expect a cogent case for his proposition.

Below are Akin’s five reasons (embolden) with my response following. The reader can be the judge if Akin has made his case (at least in Part One) that voting for a 3rd party candidate is not a wasted vote.

[First] A 3rd option is not a wasted vote. Per Akin, since “this kind of thinking is exactly why we are in the mess we are

in,” voting one’s conscience is “never a wasted vote.” Akin cites Republicans spoiling the “binary options” for the Whigs and Democrats in 1860.

In response, it’s not always true that voting one’s conscience is never a wasted vote. What if, in acting consistently with one’s disgust for American politics, and thus voting according to one’s conscience, a person voted for Mickey Mouse as POTUS in November? Or Lucille Ball? Wouldn’t this count as a wasted vote?

What’s more, since when has one’s conscience become the ultimate criteria by which believers discern life-changing matters whether at home or in society? True Scripture not only affirms as the “the goal of our instruction… a good conscience…” (1 Ti 1:5), but also states that “the blood of Christ” is designed to “cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14). Granted. But citing conscience apart from other significant factors involved could be a recipe for spiritual disaster. And we all are very much aware of how dull even the Christian conscience can become much less for those outside the church.

More problematic is citing personal conscience alone when dealing with public policy, something about which Akin should be very much aware as a student of political science. Personally, I’d gladly deal with a bit of regret in putting a flaunting Donald Trump in office if I thought it could help the unborn and preserve the Supreme Court from a disastrous leftward tilt for the next forty or more years. When dealing with public policy, conscience must be a part of the balancing act. Thus, while conscience is relevant, conscience should never be considered alone.

Finally, Akin citing the Republicans getting Lincoln elected as evidence that a 3rd party candidate can work in the 2016 election seems absurd. It took at least six long years for Republicans to get Lincoln in the White House, and that was after he lost the Republican nomination to the US Senate in 1858. It took time to build a formidable political party, time we don’t have in 2016.

[Second] A strong showing from a 3rd option might just be what is needed for an overturn of the whole system… In response, no 3rd party candidate presently has a strong showing unless Akin counts low-bottom, single digit polls strong. And like we stated above, we don’t have time for a strong showing to build. Nor is believing “our two parties take for granted many people’s votes” serve as evidence for anything really. Three or four parties could just as easily “take for granted many people’s votes.”

[Third] Evan McMullin could be a better option and there is a remote possibility of a path to victory… Evan McMullin entered the presidential election in early August of this year—about two months ago. McMullin says, “I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a better choice for President.” Perhaps he can, but most serious candidates need to have more than a couple months before voters align their allegiance to them. It looks like McMullin is exploiting the moral dilemma many evangelicals feel in voting for either Clinton or Trump. In other words, McMullin apparently is claiming he’s a better moral choice than either of the two primary candidates, and I honestly would not doubt he is! But is one justified in voting for a candidate just because he or she has fewer moral problems than another?

Not mentioned in Akin’s article is McMullin’s deep religious roots in the Mormon church. While I personally do not count that against him (for the record, I voted for Mitt Romney), there is a sizable chunk of evangelicals who would not vote for a Mormon as president. Hence, one has a divided house even with McMullin. And his high poll numbers in Utah are high for a reason since 75% of the population is Mormon!

Finally, to cite an 1824 incident where the House of Representatives decided the presidential election is as vacuous as citing Lincoln’s win over Whigs and Democrats. Akin is merely throwing a political “Hail Mary” hoping it lands in somebody’s hands (just not Trump or Clinton’s).

Consider: do we really want to gamble away the Supreme Court; the unborn population; the military; protected borders; immigration reform; workable healthcare solution; among many other issues affecting all Americans by hoping a completely unknown, untested candidate will arise from the ashes and in two-three months win? Our grandchildren—my grandchildren—are at stake here. I feel no compulsion–moral or otherwise–to place the political future of this nation at risk by handing it over to Hillary Rodham Clinton.   

[Fourth] The amount of votes a candidate gets is often used as an indicator of how much public support they have to carry out their policies. I’m confused as to Akin’s point other than to assert that since neither Clinton nor Trump has positive ratings or likely to gain a high percentage of the voting public, both candidates would suffer from lack of an American mandate and therefore limit their effectiveness in office. My only response is, where has Akin been the last eight years under President Obama?

[Fifth] A vote for a 3rd option would also tell the world we are not in anyone’s political pocket. Granted. It could also tell the world that when it comes to preserving the rights and privileges of our American republic, Christians don’t give two shakes of a gnat’s behind. Nor is voting for Trump necessarily suggesting we’re in anyone’s “political pocket.”

Moreover, what matter does it ultimately make exactly what we’re allegedly telling the world when we’re implicitly telling the unborn that we’re don’t care if Hillary Clinton pushes late-term abortions or not; or telling our military families we don’t care if Hillary Clinton abandoned you to die or not; or telling our grandchildren we don’t care if we leave you with a leftist Supreme Court for the next forty years or not? Our children will just have to suck it up and live with it because we are never going to vote for Donald Trump. Instead we’re going to vote 3rd party regardless of an unknown candidate whose chances are slim to none in winning the presidential election.

So, is voting a 3rd option candidate a wasted vote?

You decide.

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