I think people should get to vote ‘No’ if they so choose, on Election Day. I don’t mean 'vote for the least disagreeable candidate' or 'vote for another random candidate in protest', but actually vote against a candidate. Why not?
It is pretty simple really: You still get only one vote, but you get to use it for or against any of the candidates. After all, if you don’t like any of the candidates, why are your only choices either to vote for someone you don’t like or not participate at all? Why can’t you say, “Well, you are asking me choose from a slap in he face, a punch in the gut or a kick in the groin. For too long I have voted for the slap in the face (or abstained from choosing); often only to be punched in the gut or kicked in the groin anyways. This time is different--- I say, I certainly do not want to be kicked in the groin!”
Now, you may get kicked in the groin anyways, but at least you’ll feel better about it, and feel like you acted in a less morally-repugnant manner. You didn’t passively sit by and accept your fate; you didn't actively choose some bad option; you actively chose against the worst! While not ideal, I think this could better convey your feelings on the matter.
Besides, when the votes are tallied, the public sentiment would be better summarized. Instead of the traditional “50 million people voted for a punch in the gut while 51 million voted for the kick in the groin” we could have a more realistic breakdown like, say, “27 million people voted for the kick in the groin and 30 million voted for a punch in the gut, and while 32 million voted against the punch in the gut, only 28 million voted against the kick in the groin. So kick in the groin wins by a final tally of minus-one million to minus-two million. Turns out that the evangelical vote carried the kick in the groin; miraculously too, as the kick was trailing in many key states late in the afternoon, but it turned out that the exit polling was incorrect in only all those states that the kick made a great comeback. Truly God works in mysterious ways, so gird your loins now for the kick in the groin”
So anyway, such a system could provide a real, meaningful protest vote, as it will make a voter’s voice better heard. It is still entirely possible that some blithering idiot of a 'winner' could still take the aforementioned results and claim a ‘mandate’, but it will be a bit more transparent.
Finally, such a voting system could also inject some humility back into the office of the presidency; don’t you think it is time to knock down some of the supercilious arrogance that accompanies the office and bring some of the ‘servant’ back into ‘public servant’?
As for me, I’m going out to buy a steel-reinforced cup.
UPDATE: I guess this is not the best year for the preceding article, as Obama is running a smart, positive campaign that holds appeal and both Hillary and McCain (despite their recent campaign-related ineptitude, shameless pandering and ideological prostitution) largely have a track-record of being a fairly smart and decent people. But the idea was born after reading much of the Nader-bashing that was prevalent over the past week and contemplating the protest-vote factor.
As an aside: I am not a fan of Nader, but he has a right to run---whether he has a tangible impact on the voting or not, whether he is motivated by the right reasons or not, whether he has a chance to win or not. People who blame him for Dubya’s 2000 win are deluded and are giving many other people a pretty easy pass. The primary culprit for Gore’s loss was Gore himself. Much of the time, he came across as a condescending pompous ass. He refused to use the mighty momentum that Bill Clinton could have brought; he was too stupid or too arrogant to figure out that if he brought Bill front-and-center, people would be reminded of the good times and that no one was going to confuse his morality with Bill’s. Gore set out to pander to the moderate republicans (a bloc that was never going to vote for him) and ended up alienating a bunch of his democratic base. At the end of the day, that election shouldn’t have been even close---but the fact is that Gore couldn’t put together a campaign to win an un-lose-able election. Deal with it.
Besides, if Nader did cost Gore the election in 2000, we all owe him a huge thanks. The past seven years have seen an alarming erosion of basic rights and a systematic perversion of the rule of law in this country. Simultaneously, these seven years have starkly exposed, like never before imaginable, the extent of ignorance and/or apathy and (more importantly) the political impotence of the people of this nation.
So don’t hate the playa, hate the game. And change it if you can.Print this post