Monday, January 11, 2016

The logical fallacy of the wasted vote

In a past life, sometime in the 90's, I was a once a libertarian. I went to their meetings, I manned their booths on the pier and I shared what I had learned from the libertarians with my friends and family. I'd give them the political questionnaire and show them how they scored. I was able to show them that they were in agreement with the basics and asked them to consider registering as a libertarian.

Their interest would stop there. "I like the libertarians, but they'll never get elected, so I'd be wasting my vote." My reply in so many words was, "Well if you want a libertarian in office, but don't vote for them, your vote is wasted."

Fast forward a few decades and I'm seeing something similar happening. I'm no longer libertarian, in fact, I'm far from it. I'm a Bernie Sanders Democrat now. I feel the Bern. Yet, there is still talk and memes in the social media to say that Bernie Sanders is "unelectable" that he's a "second class candidate". There are still many people who agree with him, but feel that in order to secure the White House for the Democrats - to keep it out of the hands of the GOP, we must elect Hilary Clinton in the primaries.

This blog post is for those people who believe, in quiet resignation, that Hilary's nomination is inevitable even without a single primary vote cast. That belief would be true if you vote for her. If you vote for Bernie Sanders, you change the outcome. It's really that simple, but the major media are intent on ignoring Bernie to favor Hilary. They are intent on maintaining control of the narrative. They want you to believe that Hilary's nomination is already complete.

For Bernie Sanders believers who want to believe, but worry that their vote would be wasted, let's consider the worst case scenario in the Democratic primaries: you voted for Bernie but Hilary still wins, anyway. Well, your vote still matters. The records will show that there is a sizable fraction of Democrats who would be disaffected if Hilary did not listen to them. She will have to keep those voters in mind for the campaign going into the general election.

From a logical standpoint, if you voted for Hilary, believing in Bernie, wanting Bernie to win, your vote is wasted. Voting for someone you disagree with just to be on the winning side is insane. It's well documented how the early voting tallies tend to influence the people who vote later. We have three time zones in this country and those on the east coast tend to set the trend. People want to vote on the winning side so that they don't feel like their vote is wasted. But if you don't vote for the candidate you want, well, it's wasted.

The only way to get Bernie elected is to vote for him, plain and simple. The vote must be cast regardless of the outcome. We get to vote, that is true, but we don't get to decide the outcome.

A good friend of mine once told me, "For us, there is the only the trying. The rest is none of our business." It's a great quote from TS Eliot. I don't know who TS Eliot is or much of what he writes about, but that statement rings true to to me. It says, "Do what you believe in, regardless of what the outcome might be."

I do what I believe in not just because I believe in it. I do what I do because I want to be able to sleep at night, with a clear conscience. I just want to do the right thing.

If you believe in Bernie, if you feel the Bern, then vote for Bernie Sanders. You'll sleep better knowing you did the right thing by voting for him. Even if Hilary should somehow manage to win, you'll still sleep better. Even if Hilary wins, Bernie will still be there in the Senate, reminding that her obligation is to the people, not Wall Street.

To me, that is the biggest difference between Hilary and Bernie. I've seen the Clintons in action during the Clinton administration: NAFTA, mandatory minimum sentencing, and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. They have a family foundation that has raised $3 billion over the last few decades. Hilary made almost $3 million in speaking fees in 2013 alone at some of the same banks that were bailed out in 2008. That's real money and to me, she listens to the money more than the people. I sincerely doubt that she will do much of what she says once elected. She might do some of what she says as a token, but she's not going after the big banks. She will be a continuation of the dynasty politics as usual.

Bernie doesn't have a foundation that takes in money. He doesn't make much money in speaking fees and doesn't go to the big banks to speak for money. He's got more than 2.5 million small donations from people who want to see him in the White House. He flies coach when he flies. He doesn't carry even remotely as much baggage into this election as Hilary Clinton carries. In Vermont, plenty of Republicans have voted for Bernie, and plenty more around the country ready to vote for him, too. He's had the same message for more than 30 years: save the middle class.

Bernie will win if we vote for him. And if he wins, he won't need any reminding of who he works for. He already knows who he works for and he's ready to work for us. All of us.
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