You might have heard it said that if one votes for a candidate that is neither Republican nor Democrat, they are throwing their vote away at best or perhaps even “voting” for another candidate by not supporting the party they would normally align with. Perhaps you have seen a popular post or viral video on social media that warns of the doom about to be cast upon American by third party voters. But what about the voter who feels ethically compelled to vote for neither of the bipartisan candidates, but instead wishes to vote for someone they wholeheartedly support and trust?
The institution of voting in the United States was founded on the idea that every voter should hold the power to choose the exact person they think should be the political and moral leader of the country. Since America is a democratic republic, some of this power is abstracted and generalized, but the idea remains the same: the people get to vote for whom they wish on a personal basis, not being affected or overpowered by other parties. It is a strong statement of individualism within the collective harmony that a country strives to maintain. It is a moment where the personal ideal meets the systematic imperative.
This is why it is so important for every citizen to vote according to his or her conscience. If your views do not align with either of the main party candidates’ views and you have found a third-party candidate with whom you resonate politically and morally, the choice to grant them your vote is one that you should feel honored and happy to give, not sad and ashamed, feeling like you let your party down or wasted a vote. While I might argue in favor of a given candidate’s credentials and even hope to be a persuasive voice that adds votes to that candidate’s pool, I would never ask someone to ignore their conscience or true desires in order to add that vote: I would in fact deem such behavior to be highly unethical.
As election day draws closer and the final votes are cast, please don't forget your conscience or the consciences of those around you. While you might disagree with some people on the minutia and mechanics of the political machine presently, remember that you will have to work with these same people after the election. Ultimately, it will be the collective population that decides the future of this country, not simply a man or woman residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.