By Stephen Weese
During the last presidential election cycle, I performed a mathematical analysis of the phenomenon of “wasted votes” and determined that there were many fallacies assumed by people using that term. Wasted votes, specifically, are votes that have no outcome on the election – including all of the votes for the losing candidate in a winner-take-all election. This means that millions of votes for major parties were wasted in 2016. In fact, since Electoral Votes create another filter in voting, the case could also be made, for example, that all of the votes in the entire state of California for president in 2016 were wasted.
An Entire State of Wasted Votes
The explanation of how all voters in California wasted their votes is simple. As usual, the Democratic party carried the vote for the state – the electoral votes all went to Hillary Clinton. This automatically makes all votes in California that were not for Clinton “wasted,” including votes for Trump and any other candidates. However, once converted to Electoral Votes, they were part of the losing candidates total, meaning these votes also were wasted since they did not count as part of Trump’s electoral victory.
People from the two major parties tend to think that only third party votes are wasted, forgetting that their own votes are technically wasted if their candidate loses. After all, it’s the same outcome. It’s merely a self-deception to think your vote wasn’t wasted if your candidate “almost won.” However, major partisans also accuse third-party voters of “spoiling” elections. This perspective also includes several fallacies.
The first is that all of the third party votes would have gone to their preferred candidate – this is impossible. The second is that votes somehow “belong” to the major parties and third party voters are somehow unethically “taking them away.” Finally, it makes the assumption that a vote is of no value unless it goes to a major party.
Non-Voters vs. Third Party Voters
Only 60% of eligible voters in the United States actually vote. That means approximately 80 million people who could vote do not. To put this in perspective, the number of people voting for third parties and write-ins combined was less than 10 million in the 2016 presidential election: one eighth of the amount of non-voters. Clearly, instead of blaming third party voters for anything, analysts and partisans should be asking why the major candidates are not inspiring nearly half of the current electorate to vote.
Voters are Refusing to Vote for Major Parties
There are many voters out there who refuse to vote for either Trump or Biden in this upcoming election. In one poll, a full 25% of voters said that neither candidate would be a good president. However, there’s much more to it than that. There are many third party and independent voters who do not trust either party.
Over the last few years, they have seen the polarization, the infighting, the lying, and the gaslighting being done by both parties. This inevitably leads to cries of, “False equivalence! The parties are clearly different!” (Read: my party is the good one and the other bad.) Indeed, they are very different in ideology, yet both have resorted to the Machiavellian mantra: the end justifies the means.
We have witnessed riots and violence against innocent bystanders waved away as “peaceful protest” and “justified.” We have witnessed dramatic and unparalleled lies from both left and right wing media. We have seen that it’s fair if one side does it and criminal, evil, and spiteful if the other side does. Nothing has been left unpoliticized. Even the virus is being used by both sides to manipulate us as a party talking point and as a way to scare and control us. The amount of misinformation pertaining to the coronavirus is unprecedented.
Members of both parties scream that they must take control to stop the “evil” other side from winning. Yet, that is the crux of the situation: it is all about control. It is not just politics now, but a culture war where the potential victors have both clearly stated that they will force their views on the rest of American society.
Some of us remember when we could still see each other as human, yet now we see that if you aren’t Blue or Red, you are viewed as someone who should be suppressed, beaten, or even killed. There are many of us who won’t play that game anymore. No matter which candidate wins, there will be no justification to blame third parties for the loss. We were never going to vote for either of the two major parties. We are disgusted, exhausted, and refuse to participate any further in this partisan war.
The Big Picture
So many independents and liberals cry that Trump must be stopped at all costs. That he is the source of the division. A source of racism and evil. Yet, Trump is only a symptom that was caused by the constant extremism of the parties. Continually demonized by the left for not completely and utterly following the new liberal agenda, angry voters flocked to Trump. Instead of realizing the problem they were causing, the liberal movement doubled down and attacked more, claiming anyone who supported Trump for any reason was a racist, full of hate, an evil person. It is no surprise that those who were merely conservative by principle objected to being repeatedly painted as monsters.
There was a time, not long ago, when conservatives had the upper hand in culture and they did the same to those that were left-wing. McCarthyism cost many people their livelihoods and happiness in a very similar way that cancel culture does now. Generations of anger, name-calling, and stereotyping has fueled this seemingly never-ending feud.
Partisans, whichever side loses this election, need to learn the lesson this time. The response is not to become more extreme, antagonistic, and militant – it is to try to stop this culture war. Millions of us are tired of the constant fighting and screaming. We want to live in a United States once again. We want a party that will find compromise instead of trying to force in more of their supreme court judges, or threaten to pack the court if they don’t get their way. This ruthless partisanship is driving third party voters away and until the lies stop, the screaming stops, and at least one party decides to become reasonable, our votes will not be wasted on you.
Stephen Weese has Computer Science and IT degrees and teaches Mathematics, Critical Thinking, and History of Video games at a film college. He is also a speaker, a film and voice actor, and nutrition coach. www.steveracer.com