In another diary, I posted this long response to a post about third party votes being "meaningless." If anything, the opposite is true. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter:
As I like to say, the only wasted vote is a vote that isn't cast. Voting for a third party or independent candidate isn't "meaningless" at all. In fact, in some ways, it is more relevant than just marching in lockstep with either major party.
In non-swing states, votes for third parties are very meaningful.
In Massachusetts, for example, the high turnout for Ralph Nader in 2000 - over 6 percent - gave the Green-Rainbow Party major party status
in the state. The Greens are now the third largest party in the state. While this has made for more difficult signature gathering for smaller office candidates, it gave them a presidential primary line this year - Lorna Salzman won, BTW - without having to gather the tens of thousands of signatures to get on the ballot. Nader's candidacy in 2000 empowered this fledging party and now they are players. As well, while many are worried about the Nader [and Green] affect on the national president campaign, on the local level, the Greens are activiated more than ever. They have more candidates this year and more in elected office now then any other third party since the Know Nothings in the mid-1800s! In 2002, one state rep. candidate even got over 37 percent against a socially conservative Democrat. That is a huge thing! As well, it showed that the Democrat was weak and he is now being challenged by a progressive Democrat in the primary. The treasurer's candidate got over 9 percent in the state-wide election in 2002. In other states, there are similar results. It was the New Party that got a living wage posted in Madison, Wisconsin. That is just two off the top of my head. I am sure there are other examples.
In non-swing states, telling pollsters you are considering voting for an independent candidate instead of a major party candidate, tells the major party candidate you aren't happy with what they are doing. They then have to tailor their message, campaign, and behavior to get those swing voters i.e. as Nader likes to say, earn the votes!
Personally, if a candidate doesn't speak specifically to me about the issues that are important to me as a voter, I am not going to vote for that person. It really is that simple. Just because millions of people are afraid of a second term for Bush or afraid of Kerry on the other side of the aisle, doesn't mean I am going to vote for my fears. Other people can do this - that is their right. But it is my right to do what I think is best with my vote. It really is that simple and I really wish people out here would get that and "Move on."
As many of you who have read my previous posts know, I have been very critical of Kerry Here is a column I wrote on the matter:. He was my senator for 16 years when I lived in Massachusetts. During that time, he didn't get one major legislative initiative that he sponsored passed even though the Democrats did control the senate for some time during his 19 years. I watched some of his manufacturing speech on C-Span last night, telling the attendees that he met tons of people at town meetings and learned a lot about the struggles of the middle class. Well, he could have learned that when he was a senator in Massachusetts but didn't bother to find out what us folks were thinking then. Only now, that he is running for president, has he figured out that many of his votes in the senate have crushed the working folks from around the country. But even after hearing all these concerns and complaints, he still doesn't get it! Kerry said in the speech, paraphrasing, 'I'm not a protectionist, I'm a competitor.' Well, 25 percent tax credits here and corporate tax breaks over there isn't going to do anything to save our jobs and our families and our incomes. He is just dead-wrong on this issue and a whole slew of other issues.
I haven't decided not to vote for him yet. But I am watching and waiting for him to talk to voters like me. I am waiting for him to earn my vote. All the complaining by Democrats and crass comments by former President Jimmy Carter - someone I respect and admire - attacking Nader, isn't going to win my vote. I want action - not double talk, not blase policy tweaks. I want action and I want it now!
Historically, it has been third parties that have moved the major social movements in our nations' history. Go down the list and you will see that third parties forwarded important reform policy positions decades before the policy was implemented. Slavery? Sure, implemented by the Republicans. But it was first proposed by a third party in the 1840s.
FDR's New Deal? Sure, implemented by the Democrats. But forwarded by the socialists years before.
All of these votes weren't meaningless. Just because you don't agree with voters who cast votes for third parties doesn't mean our decisions are meaningless.
In fact, if anything, the statement made by third party voters is more relevant and more important and has done more to actual change the face of politics in American than the people who just do what their told because of some fear of the future.