There are many wonderful articles that deal with common objections to voting for a third party candidate. I would like to be among them. If you are somewhat disheartened by the two main options you have for president, don't feel like you're alone.
But don't sit at home because you feel like you have no options. There are always plenty of candidates running for office. However, like me, you've probably never considered voting for them before because you feel like it would be a waste of time. Let me challenge that notion.
What is your reason for not voting for a third party candidate?
It would be a wasted vote.
I would suppose that statement depends on your definition of a "wasted vote". Is standing up for something you believe in a "waste?" Is voting for a candidate that represents you a "waste?" Is exercising your right to participate in the Republic a "waste?" Rather, I find that supporting the existing parties dominating politics to be a waste. They'll be in power no matter what you do, so vote against the Democrats and Republicans at the federal level. That's no wasted vote.
They can't win.
Why can't they win? Because we won't vote for them. Why won't we vote for them? Because they can't win. Anyone can win if they get enough votes.
Maybe those that say this mean they're not as likely to win. Then, it would only make sense by this policy to vote for the candidate most likely to win. Presently that is Barack Obama. Anyone else is less likely to win. If you don't like Obama, then you can pick anyone you want.
Let me add to this. According to this summary of current polling, John McCain CANNOT win. For as long as the blue number on this page is over 270, McCain has no chance of winning, even if he wins every single swing state. So, if you don't believe in John McCain's message, and he cannot win, then for what logical reason are you voting for him? Again, vote for a candidate you support and that will support you.
There's no point. What good will it do?
Throughout American history, third parties have played a significant role in several elections. While it sometimes seems that they act as a "spolier" to the major party candidates, I believe they act primarily as a punisher and a reminder. The third parties exist in part to punish the major parties for ignoring a large section of the population. Secondly, they remind the major parties of issues that are on the minds of many Americans.
If you vote third party this election, you will be showing Obama and McCain that you will not blindly follow their leadership. You show them that they must listen to you if you are going to vote for them. You'll show them that they cannot ignore you or the third party candidates.
And, if the people are fed up for long enough, a third party can become a dominant party. This was demonstrated the most strongly by the mass exodus from the Whig party to the Republican party in the 1860s. The Whigs ignored their base and ceased to have any issues they could call their own. They existed only to challenge the Democrats.
When the parties focus their attention solely on attacking the other, they ignore the issues so much that they ultimately claim to be exact opposites while becoming exactly the same.
So who should I even consider? Aren't all third party candidates nuts?
While the two major candidates were on the campaign trail, a dozenish other candidates had to spend all their time trying to get on the ballot in as many states as possible. Four candidates were successful in gaining enough popular support to be on the ballot in enough states that they could theoretically win the election. Please, check out their issue pages that I have linked below, and vote for them. Do not sit this election out. Tell the major parties who's boss... You!
Bob Barr - Libertarian
Ralph Nader - Independent
Cynthia McKinney - Green
Chuck Baldwin - Constitution