How to Vote with Integrity this Election Cycle

You might read this title and scoff at it. Many people realize the multitude of weaknesses that both major party candidates have. So what can be done about this predicament?

It seems like every time I talk about this upcoming election with one of my peers and I bring up third party candidates, my peer recites, “well that is just wasting your vote.” I must say that I do not find this argument convincing at all. After all, we live in a democratic republic where our votes always matter. Every single one we make in every election. Why do they matter? Because billions of people around the world cannot do what we take for granted: freely voting for our leaders. That is important to note, and it has been said many times but I offer there is another problem with this argument.

It is a lie. And worse, it is spread by the two political parties in power to do one thing: keep themselves in power. Just Tuesday night, a major political figure went on CNN and commented on how a vote for a third party is the same as a vote for Donald Trump. This is convincing to some because it plays on the strongest human emotion: fear. Millions of people fear one or both candidates being in office, and the two parties know this and so they use it to their advantage.

But we do not have to be fooled by their lies. We see the latest polls and we know that it could be a record year for third parties. When I say third party, I mean anyone! Not just a libertarian or a Green or an independent, but every option on the ballot. We are choosing the next leader of our country, so why should we limit ourselves to just two options?

Some might say, “Well they will never win, so why should I vote for anyone but a Democrat or a Republican?” True, I admit, the chances of a third party candidate winning the election in 2016 is quite grim. However, imagine if third parties collect a record number of votes. It would garner media attention and make them more visible in the next election cycle. The movement can gain momentum and changing cultures takes time.

And the reality is that the two parties have had a stranglehold on politics for decades. They like being in power and having the ability to fundraise billions of dollars. Yes, that is right, in the current election cycle Democrats and Republicans have raised over 2 billion dollars. They do not want to sacrifice that power. However, we (the American people) need to make them. We need to let them know that we do not condone the current state of our political system. We need to let them know that we support discourse and compromise, not divisiveness and sweeping generalizations.

How can we do that? Well there are many ways, but a great way to start is to not believe their lies and to vote for your values this election cycle. Do not vote for a party or for “the lesser of two evils” or for someone you despise. Vote for someone you can be proud of voting for and do not limit your thinking to just two people.

As David Mitchell, author of the novel Cloud Atlas, so eloquently writes, “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” We can change the state of our political discourse and vote with integrity this election cycle by being a positive drop in the ocean, dedicated to change.

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