In what has become one of the most heated election cycles in recent memory, some voters are told that a vote for a third party candidate is a “wasted vote,” or even “a vote for the other guy.” This line of thought is self-deceiving: For democracy to truly function and for all ideas to be considered, third party candidates like Gary Johnson must exist.
In a normal election year, third party candidates and ideas outside of the two major political players often go unnoticed, unheard, or unheeded. However, this year is not a normal election year, thanks to the Liberty movement and its de facto father, Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas). Paul’s complete deviation from the rest of the GOP nominees on a range of issues, from foreign policy to budget cuts to individual rights, ensures that third party candidates will have a major impact on voter turnout, and perhaps more importantly, where undecided independent voters gravitate.
With Paul considered out of the running for the GOP nomination, many of his supporters turn to Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s candidate this cycle. Paul and Johnson share many common views on foreign policy, government expansion, and individual rights. This prompted many Romney supporters to say that a vote for the former New Mexican governor would be a “wasted vote” or “a vote for Obama.” But is this the case?
If the GOP had not changed into a party that is not for anything, but is 100% against the Democratic party, the fracturing of the GOP would not have happened, which would have severely reduced the influence of Paul, reduced the size and volume of the Liberty movement, and made the threat from Johnson and other third party candidates non-existent.
So is it a waste to vote for Johnson? Not if you are seeking to balance the scales of political ideology and bring everything back to neutral. The widening rift between Republicans and Democrats leaves more and more room for a third party to make a splash, and could ultimately bring both sides a little closer to center.
And no matter what your ideology, being a little closer to center is never a bad thing.