On Cynical Strategic Voting, Scalzi, and Bernie

I posted recently about being a conscience vs. strategic voter, so I wanted to share a frustrating example of this.

John Scalzi is an author I generally respect, sometimes deeply. Today, Scalzi posted a quick note on Bernie Sanders announcing his intention to run for President in 2016. Whatever you may think of Bernie, voting for him is an act of conscience – he’s a man of conviction and clearly articulated beliefs who has survived in national politics purely because he’s from an against-the-grain state like Vermont.

The problem with this sort of dialog is that it suppresses the conscience voter by casting their vote as a lost cause before we ever even begin to debate the issues. It frames Bernie as a sideshow, not a candidate. It suggests there’s only one way to vote – for the person most likely to win, the worst possible way to express your actual values.

This kind of cynical thinking, as if we’re betting on a horse race, has led us to one kind of leader in recent decades – the person who can raise the most money, look the most polished on camera, avoid any controversy, be as vague as possible about their beliefs, and hedge on every single issue to appeal to widest, and most uninformed, possible electorate.

Don’t buy into strategic voting. It’s ruining our democracy.