If any of the following reasons, are the fundamental reasons for who you're voting for, then you're voting for the fundamentally wrong reasons:
Nope. No. Huh-uh, wrong, all wrong. Sorry, but although those may be factors, when taken as reasons for voting, they are amongst the key reasons for why we are in the mess that we're in today.
- Voting for your political party - wrong!
- Voting for who you think can win 'the' election (primary or general) - wrong!
- Voting for who you think is the most [intelligent or principled or effective or conservative or ___] candidate - wrong!
So why should we vote?
For that one reason which does not change from election to election, from year to year or from crisis to crisis, for that reason that does not change as candidates come and go, or even as political parties rise up and fade away - it doesn't even matter if we're talking about a popular vote or the voting by delegates. Through it all there is one thing that is constant and remains the same, and that is that the office which the candidate is being elected to, is there to serve a defined purpose for your (Ward, Assembly, City, County, State, Nation), and the fulfillment of that purpose, in as most favorable a fashion as is possible, is why you cast your vote.
That's it. Candidates are merely a means to that end.
If you're voting for any other reason, then every vote you cast is miscast, and can, in some sense, even be a harmful one. It can also be harmful if you fail to distinguish between the purpose of a primary (and oh my is there ever a lot more to say about those, in an upcoming post), and that of the general election.
- In the Primary election, you cast your vote in order to fill that office with the candidate that is, in your judgment, best able to fulfill its purposes, and will most responsibly utilize the powers of that office.
- In the General election, you are voting on how that office, and its powers, will be occupied and utilized.
And given that the purpose which that office fulfills, is the reason for your voting, then in all elections, you should be looking at what that office's purpose is, and at the powers it entails, and only then at how well, or ill, a particular candidate might be able to fulfill it. Since for most of us the most recent election just passed, or held today, or coming up soon, is a primary election for determining your political party's candidate in the general election for President of the United States of America, lets start with the oath of office that the winner of the general election will take, and the oath of office, says:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.", which, it seems to me, means that in order to judge whether a candidate is a good candidate for executing the duties of the office, they, and you, ought to be familiar with what the duties of that office are, right? And to do that... you might want to bone up on the rest of Article 2, beginning with Section 1, Clause 1... not to mention the rest of the constitution too, of course.
Spoiler Alert: The Constitution doesn't say anything about health care insurance, student loans, making America great again, who can marry who, building fences, minimum wage, or much else about what is being talked about in this election cycle. No, it pretty much sticks to limiting govt to its defined powers (see Article 1, Section 8 (clauses 1-18), the roles of the Commander in Chief, and defending the constitution by passing no laws that violate its laws or infringe upon our individual rights, especially those noted in the Bill of Rights.
Although if you'd like to broaden that view somewhat beyond the oath of office, you could do worse than following the admonition that Congress used to issue to territories that were petitioning to be admitted to the union as states, that they should order themselves so that they,
"... when formed, shall be republican, and not repugnant to the constitution of the United States, and the principles of the Declaration of Independence..."Meaning that, in considering whether or not the office of the President of the United States will be faithfully executed, shouldn't a part of your consideration involve taking into account how that candidate might further those principles, or be repugnant to them? And what is your responsibility in the matter?
And what if none of the available candidates shows an understanding and commitment to the principles of the Declaration and the Constitution... or to the Rule of Law, or towards Liberty itself? What then? Do you stay home? Vote for a negligible candidate? Write in someone else's name?
In the Primary, where selecting the candidate that is, in your judgment, the best for executing the duties, responsibilities and powers of that office... you could make a case for those options, but what about in the actual election, where it is not about your preferences, but about the actuality of how that office will be occupied? Can you then legitimately consider staying home? Voting for a negligible candidate? Writing in someones name?
Leaving aside whatever strange stroking that might give to your own ego and vanity, ask yourself this: Will such a 'vote' contribute anything towards how the principles of the Declaration, the Constitution, and our liberty, might be employed, or abused, through that office, or to the benefits or damages that will result because of who succeeds in entering the office?
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say... no. Not at all, and you're blowing smoke up your own butt if you think it does.
Why do I say that?
Well, if this were a card game, or maybe a game of monopoly, and you noticed that one or more of your fellow players were cheating, you could, in good conscience, leave the game and refuse to play along, right? Why? Because you can leave the game!
You cannot, however, short of leaving the country, leave 'the game' of a Presidential election, or its effects on you, on your fellows, or on your position and responsibilities as a citizen. You are encompassed by it. You cannot opt out, while remaining within the nation's geographical boundaries. Pretending as if you can, is not only a sophistic pretense more worthy of petulant children than responsible adults, but worse, it cannot fail to aid that office holder who will do the most damage to the nation through that office... which you made no meaningful effort to oppose their being elected to.
Oh, sorry, what's that? Are you saying:
Are you not listening?
- 'At least I'm not helping XXX candidate!' I'd never violate my principles to do that!'?
#1, you do not, Should NOT, ever, in any meaningful way, VOTE FOR a Candidate! Not for any Candidate!
We should only elect candidates for the purposes of executing the duties of that office as effectively as possible, in order to fulfill its purpose as defined by our laws. Yes, the office will be filled by a person, but they aren't the purpose of your vote, it is - candidates are but a necessary means to that end.
Note: Casting your vote for that candidate which you judge will best execute the duties of that office, or bring about the least harm through it, is not the same as voting for a candidate - it involves putting your focus on the office, rather than on the officeholder.
Voting primarily for a candidate, or a party, or even a pet litmus issue, is a short cut to disaster. Why?
Because Voting for a candidate, immediately and necessarily means that rather than focusing primarily upon the purposes of the office and the principles and policies best suited to executing its duties, your focus would instead be upon personalities - both theirs and yours. And if you let yourself get sucked into voting for candidates, becoming personally invested in them, then you are prone to being blinded by your passions for them, and you will almost inevitably be sucked into defending that individual person or party, or issue, rather than upon the purposes of that office, and the quality of the principles and policies which the officeholder will support, and - see if this sounds familiar this year - you will be drawn into petty disagreements and arguments and fights that have very little, if anything to do with those purposes which your vote is intended to serve, such as, oh, I dunno, things like "... you know what they say about small hands...", or "...their face annoys me...", or "... he's a little liar...", etc., comes readily to mind for some reason.
And if you focus upon the candidates personally, then you might even wind up saying incredibly poorly thought out statements such as: "I'll NEVER vote for ___! They're a ____ Scumbag! Hashtag #NeverTrump, #NeverCruz, #NeverKasich", even at the cost of putting a potentially worse candidate (hello Hillary or Bernie) in that office, who very may well be committed to horrendously more destructive purposes, principles and policies those candidates you are so upset at, which would that office, and its powers, upon the entire nation.
Choosing not to vote, or casting your vote in a manner that can have no impact on who the winner will actually be, are actions that make it more likely that the greater evil will win - that is what it means to choose the lesser of two evils.
Never choose the lesser of two evils! Don't Do That! Don't be that guy!
Instead, being mindful of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, and the Liberty of We The People which our laws derive their just powers from, and being mindful of the Power which the resulting holder of that office will have over all of those, and all of us, due to their being elected to that office, you must cast your vote where it will best advance, or most thwart the greatest threat, to them. Nothing less can provide any service to any of them, at all!
Being Principled doesn't mean being destructive
If one of the candidates poses a more immanent threat to our liberty than the other, then it is your duty as a member of the republic (not of a Party, but of the Republic) to oppose them with as much power as you have available - and assuming that you stand for the Rule of Law over mob violence, that means voting, and it also means that staying home or writing in a useless name as a 'protest vote', can and will do nothing to thwart the greater threat to our republic, and there is no excuse for that.
Please, don't give me any crap about your being too 'principled' to vote for XYZ candidate, if they, and not your guy, win your primary! Hogwash!
Principles by their very nature require you to be mindful of the bigger picture, focusing on the whole, and not obsessing myopically on a particular part. By failing to take into account the primary purpose of your actions - you are not demonstrating that you have a sound conception of what principles even are, let alone what they are for. That is Not making a principled stand, and that is Not making a stand for Liberty - it is deserting it in its greatest hour of need (and probably because of your feelings for a candidate... am I right?).
Principles are not ends in themselves.
Principles are not substitutes for thinking.
Principles are guides for thinking well, they are a means to, not the ends of, principled thought.
Principles are what virtue and experience have shown to be reliable guides to wiser thought and actions - what do you suppose qualifies as 'wiser' thinking? Thinking that primarily strokes your ego and polishes your vanity, doesn't, I'd hope, qualify, does it? Principled thinking - what was once commonly known as Prudence, practical wisdom, means guiding your thoughts along principled paths, towards sound, long-range actions, ensuring that the best outcomes are most likely to be achieved. But if you are aiming your thoughts and actions at no further point than the guides to those actions, such shortsightedness cannot be wise, and they cannot be described as acting in a principled manner.
To focus upon you guides themselves, as if they were your ends, is but another form of the ends justifying the means - and isn't that what a principled person most recoils from?!
Employing Prudence in the voting booth, requires focusing upon the long-range intentions and effects which the office being voted upon will be turned towards; what will be brought about through that office, is what your choice in the voting booth should reflect and be striving towards. It is not about stroking your own vanity, but about giving as much aid as you're able to give, to, in the case of either the primary or general election for the President of the United States of America, the preservation of the constitution and our republic for which it stands; if you don't understand that that is the wisest course of action to aim towards, or that you'd prefer to allow your own shortsighted pride to take precedence over such considerations, then you are, politically speaking, no matter how many doctoral degrees you might have behind your name, an uneducated rube.
Are you voting for a candidate who is knowingly, avowedly, serving Socialist, Communist, Marxist and/or 'Progressive' aims?
If so, then you are voting in direct opposition to our Constitution and to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and it is a self evident fact that you and I have little at all in common philosophically or politically; that you are in pursuit of regressing our nation, friends and family, towards a land that will be ruled over by those who are primarily in pursuit of power, and that you would prefer to give them power over your own choices, than to suffer making them yourself, that you would rather be ruled over, than to rule over your own life; that you are willing to subject others to that same fate, because you fear having responsibility for your own life. You, like some of my friends and family, may very well be a nice person in most respects, but, IMHO, the state of your political thought is a putrid wasteland. You are voting for regress, you are avowedly pro-regressive, and advancing towards what is evil - may God have mercy on your soul.
Are you still abstaining from voting because you refuse to choose the lesser of two evils?
You should Never, EVER vote for the lesser of two evils. You should either cast your vote in service to that which is the greater Good (qualitatively speaking, not in the quantitative or utilitarian sense), or in opposition to the worst evil - that is all. If you are unsure why, take a few moments to think about the meaning and implications of the word 'evil'.
Will your vote aid the best, or thwart the worst, use of the office of the President Of The United States? Or not?
Worst of all, refusing to vote for either, means deserting the field and letting that greater evil advance unopposed - deliberate passivity in the face of evil, is evil. Choosing not to vote, is choosing the lesser of two evils. Choosing to cast your vote for an avowed leftist, rather than a flawed or even foul candidate from the right (and if you find the two comparable, you need to examine your premises), is choosing the greater of two evils.
If there is not someone in the race representative of what you can comfortably vote for - one which will best serve the office's purposes through appropriate principles and policies - then you must cast your vote for that candidate that will best serve as opposition to the Greater Evil - not for the person, not for the candidate, not for the party, but with an awareness of those ideas and policies they will be brought to that office if you don't oppose them - meaning once again, though from a slightly different perspective, that you Do Not choose the lesser of two evils, instead you consciously, with full awareness and consideration for how that office will be employed, you use your vote to pit the lesser evil, against the greater evil, but you should never, ever, cast your vote for an evil.
Anything less, is so much less than zero.