If you don't vote for Bush, you're voting for Clinton!!
If you don't vote for Dole, you're voting for Clinton!!
If you don't vote for W, you've voting for Gore!!
If you don't vote for W, you're voting for Kerry!!
If you don't vote for McCain, you're voting for Obama!!
If you don't vote for Romney, you're voting for Obama!!
If you don't vote for Cochran, you're voting for Childers!!
For as long as I have followed politics, I have heard some variation of that siren song, luring rational conservatives to crash their ideological beliefs on the rocks of partisan politics. Many a person has held their nose and voted for the lesser of two evils, instead of voting by their conscience and "throwing away their vote."
In his Farewell Address, George Washington stated:
The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another. (This is from an article by Dennis Jamison on the Washington Times Communities)
One would not have to think long for an instance of each of Washington's predictions in our modern political sphere. The current two-party system has locked power into the hands of party leaders and advisers, most of whom the general public couldn't name.
In my home State of Mississippi, this issue has once again raised its ugly head. Thad Cochran and his party Establishment thugs stole the primary runoff election from Chris McDaniel. There are multiple allegations of voter fraud that various state judges and county clerks are shoveling fast to cover up. There were audio recordings of horrid race-baiting calls and pictures of flyers all paid for ultimately by Cochran and his supporters. As door after door is closed by Barbour cronies on McDaniel's legal options, conservatives are being forced to face this question: Who do I vote FOR in November?
1) Vote for the GOP Establishment candidate that basically called conservatives bigots, even though he's only going to serve two years of his term before he retires and the Establishment picks his replacement.
2) Vote for the moderate to conservative Democrat candidate, trusting that he'll lose the seat in 6 years against a unified GOP. A side effect of this is that it helps keep Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader
3) Write in Chris McDaniel on the ballot, knowing that it not only will not count as a legal vote, but additionally will not even be counted and tallied at all.
4) Vote for Reform Party candidate Shawn O'Hara as a protest vote, admitting that he's a political gadfly who's run for close to a dozen seats, but never won an election. Additionally, he has a few positions that very few people will find palatable or agreeable.
5) Simply stay home. According to several sources, about 5 million GOP voters did this in the 2012 presidential election.
Of all of these options, #4 is the only one that doesn't play into the hands of the party apparatchiks. I have made the personal decision that I will never again cast my vote against a candidate. I will vote FOR the person that best represents me.
And I will be putting pressure on my State legislators to change both the open primary laws and the write-in candidate laws to ensure that we don't face this issue again.