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A Beginner’s Guide to Sh*tvoting

The internet is a big, wild, (sometimes) wonderful place. Those of us who spend a lot of time here end up having our own vocabulary. Such as:

Shitlord: An internet troll who posts shocking and often bigoted content for the purpose of provoking a reaction, especially from left-leaning social justice advocates. Some shitlords ironically embrace the term.

Shitposter: A person who makes worthless posts on a message board, newsgroup, or other online discussion platform.

Memelord:  A person known for creating or distributing memes (usually humorous material copied and circulated online).

Edgelord:  Someone on an internet forum who deliberately talks about controversial, offensive, taboo, or nihilistic subjects in order to shock other users in an effort to appear cool, or edgy.

Me? I am a memelord who occasionally dabbles in shitlording and edgelording. What can I say, I have range.

But I would like to introduce a new word: “shitvoting.” Which I would define as causing the maximum amount of trouble with your vote. It’s similar to tactical voting, but perhaps with a more mischievous edge.

Many people are unaware that “one man, one vote” does not apply in U.S. presidential elections. And not just because of the Electoral College‘s tilt towards less populated states (though that’s part of it.) It’s also because all but two states use a “winner takes all” method of awarding their electoral votes.

Meaning, for example, if Candidate “A” wins Missouri by a single vote, he or she still gets all ten of Missouri’s electoral votes. It’s this system that allowed Donald Trump to win the election in 2016 despite getting clobbered in the national popular vote. He eked out slim wins in several battleground states while Hillary was racking up votes in California that weren’t going to help her in the final tally.

Put another way: your presidential vote gets wiped out immediately if you are not on the winning side in your state. This especially hurts third party candidates. For example, Ross Perot won 18.9% of the nationwide popular vote, but got exactly zero electoral votes since he didn’t win any states.

Presidential elections are essentially fifty-one individual elections as opposed to one large one.  When you are considering how to cast your vote, you must consider which way your state is trending and discount the national picture. And if you’re not in a “swing state“, your vote is not meaningless per se, but it’s greatly diminished.

Are you bummed out because you don’t live in a swing state? Are your state and local politics overwhelmingly red or blue, so the general election feels rather pointless? I have news for you! You can still make a difference by shitvoting.

Let’s say you have a local or state race that you’re interested in. In these races, “one man, one vote” definitely still applies. Your vote will be counted, however foolishly you may cast it. However, it can still be wasted in a way, by voting for someone who doesn’t need it.

If your preferred candidate is way up or down in the polls, your vote for or against him or her is not likely to be decisive. Why not throw a pity vote to the third party candidate that you most fancy? Your vote doesn’t go towards a winner, but you may help that third party maintain ballot access. (In Missouri, that magic number is 2% in a statewide race at least once every other cycle.) At the very least, you show your displeasure with the two major party candidates.

(There’s a whole other piece to be written about whether one should trust polls. If nothing else, 2016 taught us to question that.)

Shitvoting not only applies to casting third party votes. It can also be done in an open primary. In those contests, a voter can ask for the ballot of any party they want.

Shitvoting in the primary can occur in at least three scenarios:

  1. You live in an overwhelmingly blue or red area, so in reality, the primary is the general election. So you might as well get your licks in there, since that’s where the action is.
  2. There is a candidate on another party’s ballot that you hate so much that you feel compelled to vote against them and keep them from reaching the final round.
  3. You wish to deliberately sabotage another party’s ballot by voting for the candidate you think your favorite pol can beat in November. (Rush Limbaugh tried this in 2008 and it kind of backfired on him.)

I’ve never been a straight ticket voter. I am a twenty year member of the Libertarian Party, but I’m not an automaton. I have cast some big non-Libertarian votes, especially back when Missouri was a swing state and certain elections were close. Sometimes it was for a Republican in the general election because the Democrat was too extreme. Sometimes it was for a Democrat in the general election because I knew him personally, or I had a pretty good inkling that the Republican was going to jail. Sometimes I’ve even grabbed a duopoly primary ballot just to try and keep a lunatic from winning their party’s nomination.

Confession time: if I was living in a swing state, I’d be very tempted to vote for Joe Biden. Not because I agree with him on much of anything, or because of any collapsitarian reasons (though that is its own kind of shitvoting.) More like I am just completely exhausted dealing with President Trump’s non-stop deluge of bullshit and drama.

Call it Trump Derangement Syndrome (“TDS”) if you like, but I have never been sympathetic to the president’s authoritarian tendencies, temper tantrums, serial meltdowns on Twitter, childish taunts, using the bully pulpit to literally bully people, episodes of “lashing out”, thin-skinned retaliatory strikes, thinly (?) veiled hostility to all manners of minorities, compulsive lying, dictator-coddling, name calling, penchant for transactional relationships, and general ignorance of policy minutiae in favor of sound bites. I would be tempted to compare him to a poop-flinging monkey, but that might be insulting to monkeys. It’s a bit of a red flag when almost everyone who has worked in your administration hates your guts.  Our president is, by most appearances, an utterly loathsome character.

I would be delighted to vote for a loathsome character, if he or she was actually educated on the issues and was at least somewhat libertarian. (Think: John McAfee; though I think his character would be better termed as “colorful” than “loathsome.”)

To that end, I posted this on Facebook on 9/28/16:

Ideally, it would be tons of fun to have a wealthy, self-financing, independent minded, “shoot from the hip”, politically incorrect, true outsider candidate make a serious presidential run. But also ideally, that person would be well-versed on the issues, have a thick skin, behave (mostly) like an adult, know the Constitution, be liberty oriented, and SANE.

But instead we got Trump.

Mr. Trump is only well versed in whatever he is interested in at this very moment, and his libertarianism comes and goes much like his interest in infrastructure or health care. Not saying he has ADHD, but focus and discipline definitely aren’t his things. I would rather wake up every morning wondering if the president croaked overnight than wondering what sort of awful things he tweeted in the wee hours. (If I never have to hear the word “tweetstorm” after this election, I will be better for it.)

(I am hardly alone in my thinking; even some folks at Reason see Biden as the lesser of two evils.)

I am approaching this general election in a state of near despair. I am in Missouri, a state which Trump (and most down-ticket Republicans) will win going away. I will vote for Dr. Jo Jorgensen, as neither major party candidate needs my vote here, much less deserves it. I am well aware that she will not be president, and whoever we end up with instead of her will be deeply flawed. I am so disenchanted that this may be the last time I vote. Ever.

It’s a damning indictment of our political system that ultimately we must choose between a candidate with possible dementia and an incumbent with a pretty clear case of narcissistic personality disorder (probably malignant, to boot). Or, some combination of both. It’s like being forced to choose between four more years of Archie Bunker or four years (if we’re lucky) of Weekend at Bernie’s.

There is another kind of shitvoting out there, though: when you have third party sympathies and a duopoly candidate is either going to win or lose your state (or district) by a large margin, but you feel so strongly for them that you’ll vote for the duopoly candidate anyway.

I don’t want to point any fingers, but the name of one such shitvoter rhymes with “Boston Schmedersen.” His rationale for voting for the duopoly incumbent despite the incumbent’s big lead here (so far as I can tell) is that he doesn’t want El Presidente to lose the national popular vote again. I suspect it also has something to do with an ongoing beef with the Libertarian Party and wanting to “own the libs.” Republicans gonna Republican, after all.

Still, when he’s in that voting booth, I hope he votes for Jo anyway. Nobody has to know. After all, he did basically stump for her as recently as August of this year. And speaking of beefs, I’d be hard pressed to not hold a white-hot grudge against a man who endorsed my primary opponent right in front of me.

America can certainly do better than having a Shitlord-in-Chief or Methuselah’s kid brother sitting in the White House. Can’t we?

Or just maybe, either way, we’re getting the kakistocracy we so richly deserve.

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