By William R. Toler
Though I haven’t yet read Shakespeare’s Hamlet (one of the many books I have that are on my I’ll-get-around-to-it list), I know a bit about the title character from Jasper Fforde’s Something Rotten. I know the Dane is quite the ditherer, as I tend to be at times.
So as this year’s election draws near, I find myself paraphrasing the prince: To vote, or not to vote? That is the question.
We’re often told to vote our concience. Well, my concience will not allow me to vote for either of the presidential candidates of the two major parties. It never has.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always been a supporter of third-party candidates, going back to Ross Perot (when I was in middle school.) Since I’ve been of voting age, I have always voted Libertarian, although I wasn’t fully informed of the individual in the running.
In the last election, although I supported Ron Paul, I still voted for Bob Barr. That was mainly to add to the vote percentage to keep the Libertarian Party on the ballot in North Carolina. I may not have been a fan of Barr, but I did like gubenatorial candidate Michael Munger…curly hair and all.
But this year, things are different.
Over the past two years, especially, my understanding and perception of liberty has grown…as has my disdain for government.
The noble intention of trying to change government from within, a goal efforted by the Pauls (Ron and Rand), Justin Amash and a few others, still leaves the nation with a majority of statists who develop more and more legislation each year which in turn places more limits on individual freedom.
Some see government as a benevolent force for providing “the common welfare.” Some see it as a “neccesary evil.” Others see it as just evil: a small group of individuals placing limits on the liberties of the individuals who “gave them” the power to do so. That applies to all levels-federal, state and local.
It’s sad that we consider our choices of the lesser of two evils. Even if you pick one, you’re still left with evil. It’s also sad that in a country that boasts a supposedly free-market system, we have a more limited choice in politics than we do in condoms.
There are more choices (Libertarian, Green, Constitution, etc.) but the mainstream media (the industry in which I find myself employed) is complicit in disregarding the other options and not letting the people know about the other choices they have.
Those who adhere to the left/right paradigm of the two-party system will often tell us that by voting for a third party, we’re “throwing our vote away.” A vote for an alternative is seen as stealing a vote from their guy (or gal).
My liberal friends, which I have quite a few, would tell me to re-elect President Barack Obama. He just inherited a mess from Bush and hasn’t had the adequate to time to clean things up. He signed a massive overhaul of health care, nevermind the cost, that will help people (also nevermind that it included a government mandate that the Supreme Court ruled was a tax.) He is also the “peace candiate”, nevermind that he got us involved in more overseas combat, didn’t close Gitmo (as promised), authorized more drone strikes than Bush (killing an American without due process in the process) and signed a law, although he was alledgedly wary of the wording, that authorizes the indefinite detention of Americans.
My conservative friends would urge me to vote for Mitt Romney, a businessman who while governor of Massachusetts authorized a healthcare bill similar to the one now implemented by the other guy. He was also strict on gun legislation, but it’s ok cause he’s the Republican nominee and he’s not Obama.
My libertarian friends are a bit mixed. Some would encourage me to write in Ron Paul. Some would say to throw my support behind Gary Johnson, the choice of the Libertarian Party.
Those on the voluntaryist end of the spectrum would say not to vote at all. A vote for a politician is still a vote for a politician, no matter how noble and principled the individual may be.
So what’s a guy to do?
I’m not sure yet, but at least I have two more months to dither.
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