Using the tools we have

September 29, 2016

Rachel Maxwell

Editor-In-Chief | ram049@latech.edu




With this past Tuesday having been National Voter Registration day and the first presidential debate having been the night before, voting has been the topic of many a tweet this week. We have been taught since elementary school that voting is a “civic duty,” but what moral weight does a vote actually carry?


Many believe that they must “vote their conscience,” or only vote for a candidate that they wholeheartedly support. In an election where many find neither candidate appealing, this belief has spiked interest in third party candidates. From many others, it means they are considering not voting at all.


While a vote is indeed a personal endorsement of a candidate, and a right that should not be taken for granted, I do not buy this idea that a vote carries a huge moral weight and should only be used to support a voter’s ideal candidate. Instead, the vote is a strategic tool we have to shape our country.


If you feel that voting in this election is “picking your poison,” I urge you to do just that. Vote defensively: there is nothing wrong with plugging your nose and voting for a candidate who you despise just because you despise the other option more.


In the end, those who don’t vote are just as responsible for the outcome as those who do. So if you have even the tiniest bit of preference for one candidate over the other, you should be at the polls come Nov. 8. Because if you abstain, and the other candidate wins, you are just as responsible for the result as those who voted. Then, by extension you are also partly responsible for the policies they enact during their tenure. So while the vote does not hold a moral weight in the sense that it should be reserved for only your optimal candidate, one does have a duty to use the tool they are given.


Then there is the third party option. While most people choose third party candidates that have little chance of winning as a way to “vote their conscience,” third party votes can make a difference in future policies. When ideas supported by third party candidates gain enough traction to make a dent in the polls, those ideas often get adopted by the two main parties. So if you feel your tool is best used supporting some of the policies of Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, cast that third party ballot.


Please realize that your vote, no matter what you choose to do with it, has an effect on the future of our country. Whether you are proudly casting your vote to “make America great again,” standing “with her,” picking your poison, voting third party or not voting at all, we are all equally responsible for who ends up in the white house this November.


Rachel Maxwell is a junior journalism major from Benton who serves as editor-in-chief for The Tech Talk.


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