by Brendon Berger
“Some men change their party for the sake of their principles, others their principles for the sake of their party”
– Winston Churchill
My Dearest Duopoly,
Greetings. I hope this letter finds you coherent as you seem to be struggling lately. Indeed it seems that lately you can barely summon the energy to turn the crank on the cliché machine. You know: that old classic hit maker that gave us gems like “it’s a two party system” and “libertarianism is good in theory.” To your collective credit, you have soldiered on and dutifully ridden herd over the mass of the electorate, ever ready to club and cajole the occasional straggler or small group back into line if they look like straying from the two party line.
And yet, doth mine ears deceive me? Your tone seems to have become a tad bit shrill as of late. Usually those of us who dare to dream of cracking your monopoly on power are easily laughed off as the colorful rantings of eccentrics. Occasionally interesting and often amusing but ultimately forgettable. So what’s changed lately? I’m not only being dismissed this year but suddenly I’m a secondary target. I have no delusions of grandeur. I know that the elephants and donkeys save their most powerful rhetorical shelling for each other but I have felt a definite uptick in hostile fire.
It is truly wonderful how versatile a third party (and Libertarians in particular) vote can in the magnitude of its error. Voting for anyone but the King Troll or Hil-Bot 3000 is not merely futile but, so I’m told, is actually immoral. My choosing to ignore terrible candidates A and B just demonstrates my racist and classist tendencies. I’ve even been told that voting third party is proof of my white privilege, which provoked a minor identity crisis as I frantically checked my epicanthic folds and wondered if I’d been driving poorly all these years for no purpose.
And yet despite being an exercise in deepest depravity, it turns out my vote is STILL pointless. I’ve seen the deluge of materials and rhetoric assuring me of the futility of my cause. Why throw your vote away on someone who has no chance of winning? Your candidate has zero chance of winning the election, so why not look elsewhere? Frankly I’m having a hard time understanding how my vote can be simultaneously an act of evil AND not matter in any way whatsoever.
Or is it that my vote represents a potential threat? You’re sending mixed messages, duopolists, and I’d like some clarification. If it’s not an evil irrelevance, then suddenly I’m Bud Johnson from from that cinematic masterpiece “Swing Vote.” I have been told by various people that a third party vote is ACTUALLY a vote for Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, depending on what sort of fauna is doing the telling. It would seem that when I pull the lever for Gary Johnson I’m casting some sort of super vote that counts for everyone BUT Gary Johnson. Yes my friend, by drinking RC Cola, I am simply showing how much I support Pepsi or Coke.
Whether my third party vote is irrelevant, evil, or represents a threat to civilized society what I must object most to is the tone of wounded indignation. It’s as though donkeys and elephants alike look up at me with big wet eyes and ask “kai, su, teknon?” As a Libertarian, I tend to hear this more from the GOP, but I’m sure Green Party members get the same rhetoric from Democrats. The GOP has become so accustomed to thinking of Libertarians as their eccentric cousins that they feel they can simply speak for us. Any assertion to the contrary is treated like a barking cat.
No my dear duopolists you are not entitled to my vote. The fact that you have locked yourself into a binary understanding of the world does not obligate me to do the same. If you would like my vote, I am willing to be convinced and open to new ideas. You may EARN my vote and are welcome to try and re-earn it every single election. It is not yours by default to lose.
No one forced you to nominate the two most terrible candidates in the history of our Republic to represent your parties. On one hand, an American oligarch who wants and demands power for its own sake, a woman who would do or say anything to sit on the throne she believes is hers by right. On the other, a blustering buffoon devoid of critical thought whose whole campaign is a dog whistle to the darkest aspects of the electorate. There hasn’t been a field of such “qualified” candidates since the Catiline conspiracy.
I do not OWE you one damn thing. The attitude of ‘my party, right or wrong’ is what got us into our present predicament. Your premise that I need to simply fall into line for the barest chance to ‘change it from within’ is nothing more than a dangled half promissory note that has NEVER been honored. Convince me or ignore me, I will not be coerced. Depend on your party faithful to leap from the trench and die on the wire when your whistle sounds, I’m happy where I am. In the end, the person I must begin and end each day with one person. That is myself and I could not do so with a clean conscience knowing I voted for an aspiring tyrant in blue OR red.
The Thinking Electorate