As you cast your vote tomorrow, you should not only consult your conscience, but also your sense of what’s best for your country.
Even though there are many excellent reasons to not support either mainstream candidate, Barack Obama is the right choice. I am not going to tell you that voting for a third-party candidate is throwing your vote away; given the way things work, that’s not just a morally bankrupt argument, it’s also not realistic. The important thing is that you cast a vote, regardless of how much direct impact it will have on the outcome of the election.
You should not vote for a third party candidate because none of them are the best choice to fill the job of President. With the exception of Virgil Goode, no third party candidate has any high-level political experience. If that fact alone isn’t enough to sell you on voting for an establishment candidate, it does point to the real problem. All third party candidates have a fundamental unwillingness to compromise their beliefs in order to campaign or govern.
The commonality between Jill Stein, Gary Johnson and Virgil Goode is that they are pure ideologues who are less interested in holding office than promoting their positions. Sure, that sounds appealing, but it’s not a useful way to approach being the leader of anything, especially the United States. It’s not an accident that we have two parties who are often ideologically similar; that’s how our Constitution is meant to generate consensus. Constituencies from all parts of the spectrum push and pull the two main parties and, when things are working well, our representatives achieve a compromise position. A President not willing to hold their nose and sign a bill that disagrees with some of their beliefs will not end up signing anything. If you think the current gridlock makes government too responsive and progressive, by all means vote for Stein. If you have a single issue that you want to see advanced, however incrementally, then you should vote for Obama. You will almost certainly find whatever laws he ends up supporting to be incomplete, but there will be motion forward.
So vote for a third party if you think that a leader should be inflexible and unable to play in the sandbox well with others. I will be casting my vote in a world where grown-ups often do things they don’t want to do in order to get what they want in the long term.
So say we all.