Voting in 2016

I’m no political strategist, but it seems like there are three distinct kinds of voters:

  1. Party-line voters – I have nothing kind to say about these voters, they are likely worse than non-voters in my book.
  2. Pragmatic voters – those who set aside their conscience, hold their noses, and vote for those whom they believe are the lesser of evils as a means of insuring the even-worse candidates don’t take office. They see themselves as practical realists, and I think many of us fall into this category. I know this is how I’ve voted most of my adult life.
  3. Conscience voters – those who set aside strategic calculations and attempts to ensure they vote on the winning team, and instead vote purely based on who represents a platform that most closely aligns with their conscience.

It’s clear our electoral system is badly broken, in part because it does not reward conscience voters – it’s stacked against them. This leads to the perverse results we have witnessed for decades, and further perpetuates the political system we seem to all agree is in ruins. Elections lead to politics, a very simple equation, and we have an antiquated Federal electoral system that:

  • Gives inordinate, undemocratic power to citizens of some of our smallest states
  • All but guarantees no representation for anyone not voting Democratic or Republican
  • Punishes, rather than encourages, voting by conscience
  • Would require decades and (at least) billions of dollars to build a new party to compete against the major two

There are many alternate systems in use around the world, in political environments every bit as complex as our own. That we are still stuck in the 18th century is an embarrassment for a country which once prided itself on being a jewel of democracy, and is deeply damaging to our politics.

Perhaps someday we can actually get around to improving our system – it desperately needs it, but the major parties have no incentive to even open discussion. Every four years, there’s a little grumbling about the Electoral College (one of many broken, antiquated and undemocratic aspects of our system) from the party which fails to win the White House, but nothing serious ever comes from it because in the end, the current system helps maintain power.

I don’t expect my vote to count for much in 2016, but I’ve decided to become a conscience voter. Not because I can shift our politics, but because I can’t.