Chris Keniston: My Response to the “Wasted Vote” Argument

From Chris Keniston at his campaign website:

I received another great question from a supporter that I want to answer here publicly.

“I have several friends who love your party and your stance on the issues, but have said that they can’t waste their vote voting for someone who has no chance of being elected. They support this idea by saying things such as:

– An independent will never win
– The two-party history will push him out; he won’t make it on the ballot
– I have to use that vote to make sure Hillary/Trump doesn’t win
– He won’t win because of the Electoral College

Everyone agrees that you are the best candidate, and would love to vote for you, but doesn’t believe that our current voting structure will allow anyone outside of the media frenzy to actually make it to the white house. Is there a plan for that? Is there a way to make people feel like their vote will actually count for something?” – Melissa Fischer

First of all: Thanks for your great question, humbling support and inspiring encouragement, Melissa. Despite expressing many serious doubts, I sincerely find your question encouraging. You seek to diminish these doubts in others, rather than surrendering to them yourself. YOU are SOMEONE! Secondly, your question touches on every aspect of matters I’ve discussed for months as a member and leader of Veterans Party. This will not be a short answer because these are not small matters.

– An independent will never win.

It is true that an independent has never won. Theodore Roosevelt had a good showing, but split the Republican Party to do it. Ross Perot focused too narrowly on conservative concerns. Despite that, he achieved enough of the popular vote to qualify his Reform Party for equal status with Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, he had no commitment to continuing the Reform Party without himself as a candidate. Historically, independent parties appeal sentimentally to niche groups, do not offer well-thought solutions for all of the nation’s problems and do not have broad appeal to all Americans.

Veterans Party is different. I am different. We are as diverse as the military. We have people from “both sides” casting off their labels, working together in the middle and putting the Constitution first. That’s why we have such a uniquely balanced platform. We combine the best ideas from both sides into one All-American platform, instead of making people to choose between them. The simple fact is, when you put the Constitution first, everyone has the right to be whomever they are and pursue whatever life they choose. The Constitution does not discriminate. Neither shall we.

I would ask those who think an Independent will never win: “Do you really feel like a candidate from either major party truly represents you? If so, what happens when they don’t survive the party primaries? There are over 144 Republican candidates and 82 Democrat candidates registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). How many of them do you actually know about? Why have the parties carefully selected, presented and publicized only certain candidates?”

You only know the candidates they want you to know. They all serve a purpose in expanding the party’s demographic appeal without actually threatening their chosen candidate. Make no mistake: Bush and Clinton are the establishment candidates. Party leadership will ensure their nomination, as they have done for establishment candidates in every primary election since 1996. The major party primaries are elaborate political theater intended to keep voters occupied and distracted while the window to register third parties and their candidates quietly closes. If both parties didn’t offer voters diversity and anti-establishment fireworks to get excited about, millions of Americans would be supporting Veterans Party or other third parties, demanding ballot access and equal media coverage. Instead, voters are being entertained and distracted by a gaggle of diverse candidates and anti-establishment ranting, in hopes of instilling party loyalty… because Clinton and Bush are both vile choices who don’t inspire anyone. One by one, the other candidates will fall away. They will endorse another candidate (Bush or Clinton), who will receive their delegates and campaign war chests. If early primaries don’t go as planned, there will be an intervention by party leadership. Returns will be recounted privately and mysteriously come back in favor of Bush and Clinton. States who move up their primaries seeking early relevance will have their returns disqualified, if they favor another candidate. The establishment’s super delegates will be cast for Bush and Clinton. In the end, Bush and Clinton will appear to be overwhelming favorites, despite equally overwhelming public objection. Research the Presidential primaries in recent history. Ask a Hillary Clinton supporter what happened during the 2008 Democrat primaries. Ask a Ron Paul supporter what happened during the 2012 Republican primaries. They’ll tell you… the nominations were taken from them and handed to Obama and Romney, respectively.

I have already won my party’s nomination. I am the Veterans Party candidate for President of the United States. If you support me now, I will still be here on Election Day 2016 opposing Bush and Clinton. Supporting me and Veterans Party now… helping us achieve ballot access in your state now… does not change your inherent right to vote your conscience in November 2016. It only guarantees that I will be an option on your ballot. If everyone waits until Bush and Clinton are nominated, it will be too late.

– The two-party history will push him out; he won’t make it on the ballot.

The biggest thing keeping us off the ballot is America’s fascination with the political theater of the major party primaries. The parties aren’t keeping us off state ballots. The voters are. If you want to see Veterans Party candidates on your ballots, you have to disconnect from this elaborate two-party fantasy that voters choose the party candidates. You have to help us get ballot access right now! Nearly every state’s Ballot Access law requires the endorsement of a percentage of registered voters. The party politicians who wrote and passed the legislation counted on party loyalty and voter apathy as huge barriers to third party ballot access. If they don’t have voter loyalty, they will manufacture it long enough to limit your options. It has proven very effective, and has allowed the two parties to continue advancing their shared agenda almost entirely unopposed. Meanwhile, Americans recognize that things are getting progressively worse, while continuing to re-elect the same two parties responsible for making things worse. By continuing to choose between them, we are doing absolutely nothing to stop them.

Both major parties have made third-party ballot access difficult, resource consuming and time consuming in every state. It is a long, uphill battle to get Veterans Party on every state’s ballot, but long, uphill battles are what we Veterans specialize in. So are lifetime commitments to our country. People need to understand, this isn’t just about me. Regardless of 2016’s outcome, we will continue working on ballot access. We will continue growing. We will continue to fight them in local, state and federal elections. I am only the highly visible tip of an enormous iceberg. My campaign is only the beginning. There are literally hundreds of people like me who joined Veterans Party to stop this madness. We desperately want to restore our country and our unity as Americans. We remain absent from your ballot because our opportunity to truly compete in 2016 is expiring while Americans wait to see who they will have to vote AGAINST! Veterans Party can still appear on the ballot in all 50 states in time for next year’s elections. But we need tens of thousands of you in every state signing petitions, demanding that they put us on your ballots! You need us. We need you. Let’s make this happen! After that, go back and enjoy the two-party show – secure in the knowledge that you have given yourself another ballot option, just in case I’m absolutely right about all of this. I am happy to serve as your insurance policy against the unthinkable.

– I have to use that vote to make sure Hillary/Trump doesn’t win

Trump is not a serious candidate. He is a distraction. He entered the Republican primaries at the personal invitation of Reince Priebus. The whole pledge not to run Independent is utter BS. He is filed with the FEC as a Republican. He is locked in as a Republican for this election. He cannot run as anything else. The same rule applies to Sanders, who declared as a Democrat. That entire production was intended to disparage independent candidates and was made possible by voters not understanding FEC regulations.

Again, Trump’s job is to keep anti-establishment Republicans, angry conservatives and disenfranchised independents focused on the GOP. He doesn’t hold a political office. He gets to shamelessly self-promote, which has always been his favorite activity. And you better believe Bush and/or Clinton will owe him some favors later. He is financially insulated from any damaging consequences. He can literally take the stage and say anything he wants. So he does. People are so enamored, they are eager to put a narcissist who admittedly buys political favors from both parties in the White House! But what if the GOP didn’t invite Trump to campaign? What if Sanders had stayed Independent instead of filing as a Democrat?

Can you imagine the ruin to both parties, if someone from a third party had that kind of appeal right now? They might actually have to face a strong candidate for the people, opposed to their agenda, in the general election. That can’t be allowed to happen. It’s far better to manufacture that candidate during their primaries and keep the focus on the major parties. Sanders has the same role as Trump for the Democrats. The man is in his mid-70s. His political career is winding down. He has nothing to lose, either. So these two “candidates” are put in the race specifically to keep people focused on the two major parties while the ballot access clock expires on third party ballot access.

Clinton and Bush are legitimate concerns. Those will be your choices. Their party affiliation is irrelevant. Their agenda is exactly the same. Because their parties’ agendas are exactly the same. No matter which one you vote for, things will continue further down the path we are currently on. That is the whole point of this two-party charade. It won’t matter which candidate you vote for because the same interests own both parties.

Deep down, Americans know it.

219 million Americans were eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential elections. 65.9 million voted for Obama. 60.9 million voted for Romney. The other 92 million DID NOT VOTE! The mandate in this country wasn’t either candidate. The mandate was NONE OF THE ABOVE! The parties know they are in big trouble. They know public opinion is strongly against both of them.

So why not, for once, allow yourself to be inspired? Why not, for once, follow your heart? Why not, for once, vote FOR a candidate that actually represents YOU… that YOU actually believe in? Isn’t that the whole point of having a vote?

– He won’t win because of the Electoral College

In most cases, the state party chooses their own electors. If their candidate wins the state, the party’s electors cast the Electoral College votes. Not every state… but most. I only need 270, not all of them.

– “Everyone agrees that you are the best candidate, and would love to vote for you, but doesn’t believe that our current voting structure will allow anyone outside of the media frenzy to actually make it to the white house. Is there a plan for that? Is there a way to make people feel like their vote will actually count for something?”

I don’t even know how to respond to the first part of that. I am just completely humbled by the incredible support and encouragement Deacon and I continue to receive. Thank you all.

Any independent candidate who relies on mainstream media coverage stands no chance in a major election. There is no such thing as independent, unbiased major media anymore. Every major media outlet in this country is owned by one of six corporations that donate heavily to both parties. Mainstream media seems partisan because it IS partisan. Media outlets work in conjunction with both parties to keep this nation afraid of “the other side” and divided against itself. We are all the targets of a highly effective “divide and conquer” strategy. If you ever hear anything from a mainstream media source about an independent candidate, it will be either dismissive or completely slanderous. Their ownership demands it.

I am not a media-dependent candidate. I am a people-dependent candidate. I don’t depend on media to tell you who I am. I tell you who I am. I introduce myself and my positions on the issues to you directly. I answer your questions. I do the things the major party candidates won’t do. I give you every opportunity to question and criticize me directly. Because I’m not afraid of you. I welcome you. I’m comfortable with who I am and what I represent. I have nothing to hide. My platform is my own creation. I don’t need advisors to tell me what it says. I know what it says. I wrote it. Same thing with my Oath To America. I know what it says. I wrote it. I depend on you, not the media, to be my advocate. Because the people you know are more inclined to trust you than a biased media. This nation launched a revolution that chased out the most powerful nation on earth without being able to use the press. We can do the same thing now politically. But WE have to do it, without depending on the media to do it for us.

When it comes time to cast your next vote: Do you really trust any major party politician to act on YOUR behalf in government? Or do you agree they are:

Two parties with
One agenda and
No regard for the American people

How is continuing to empower candidates and parties that don’t represent you… and take no action to solve the problems that concern you… NOT wasting your vote?!

I used to wait for someone to speak out, stand up and save my country…

Then I realized…

I AM SOMEONE!

So here I am, being the candidate neither party will ever offer you. Because I can. Because the two parties don’t own me.

In the end, when you stand prepared to cast your ballot, the question in your mind should not be whether or not I can win.

The question should be whether or not YOU can win.

This country cannot save itself.
The two parties destroying it won’t save it.
YOU have to save it. The power is yours, but YOU must choose to use it.

SOMEONE has to have the courage to vote FOR what they believe in, instead of AGAINST what they fear.

BE SOMEONE!

Vote your conscience.
Or vote your fear.
But for America’s sake… VOTE!

10 thoughts on “Chris Keniston: My Response to the “Wasted Vote” Argument

  1. jim

    Simple answer: The system is indeed biased against third-parties, due to the “first past the post” system.
    However, in most cases a person isn’t actually “wasting their vote”: Unless you live in a state where the vote is likely to be very close, a person can safely vote libertarian and not “waste their vote”. Think about it.

  2. paulie

    Voting for equally bad choice A or equally bad choice B is in fact a wasted vote. The only vote that is not wasted is one against both of them.

  3. jim

    Some states (including my own, Washington) have adopted a biased “two of the finalists” voting system. The primary (earlier), then the top two in a runoff election. Usually goes to the D/R; all others is excluded. This was challenged to the level of the Supreme Court a few years ago, but they ruled that it was too early to decide if this is constitutionally improper.

  4. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Paulie,

    ==Voting for equally bad choice A or equally bad choice B is in fact a wasted vote. The only vote that is not wasted is one against both of them.==

    That.

  5. Andy

    “jim

    September 20, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Some states (including my own, Washington) have adopted a biased “two of the finalists” voting system. The primary (earlier), then the top two in a runoff election. Usually goes to the D/R; all others is excluded. This was challenged to the level of the Supreme Court a few years ago, but they ruled that it was too early to decide if this is constitutionally improper.”

    This is called a Top Two Primary, which passed in California in 2010 (the one in Washington passed in 2004). It is meant to exclude minor party and independent candidates from general election ballots, and to have them silenced during the campaign season after the primaries up to the general election, which is when the highest percent of the population is paying attention to politics. Most of the public (even less than now) will ever hear from minor party and independent candidates because they are eliminated from the process before most of the public even started paying attention to the election.

    There are currently Top Two Primary ballot initiative petitions that are paying for signatures in South Dakota and Florida.

    The Top Two Primary initiative in South Dakota is being circulated by non-libertarian mercenary petition circulators who are currently also being paid by the Libertarian National Committee to gather signatures to place the Libertarian Party back on the ballot in that state, so they are literally asking people to sign one petition to place Libertarian Party candidates on the ballot, while asking people to sign another petition to take Libertarian Party candidates off of general election ballots.

    The Top Two Primary initiative in Florida is being circulated by non-libertarian mercenary petitioners who are also gathering signatures for a Medical Marijuana initiative, and a free market Solar Energy petition, so they have two pro-liberty petitions, and one anti-liberty petition (note that any of the mercenaries really care, as their interest is not the issues, but rather how much money they make).

  6. ATBAFT

    In fifty years of votes, never has my vote decided an election. So I guess they were all wasted…except I got psychic pleasure from being able to say I never voted for cretin X, Y, or Z who turned out to be destructive of our liberties.

  7. Richard Winger

    I am disappointed to see Paulie calling the South Dakota initiative a top-two system. The South Dakota initiative calls for nonpartisan elections, with no party labels on the ballot. If we buy into that terminology we are just helping the top-two proponents. A nonpartisan election may be a bad idea for congressional elections and state legislative elections, but it is not the same thing as a top-two system.

  8. Mark Axinn

    Chris’s answer above is excellent, but also much too long for a sound-bite.

    When dealing with the main-stream press, we have to respond succinctly and give them something interesting so we will get quoted.

    On the wasted vote issue, I like to respond that the only wasted votes are the ones cast for Tweedledee and Tweedledum, whose policies are often so closely aligned and indistinguishable that they are really just two sides of the same statist coin.

    If accused of stealing votes, I respond that votes belong to the voters, not the Democrat or Republican candidate, so independents are not stealing anything from either big party candidate. To the contrary, we earn our votes, which is a heck of a lot more than those vote-stealing Demopublicans do.

  9. paulie

    I am disappointed to see Paulie calling the South Dakota initiative a top-two system.

    I don’t think I did so in this thread.

    The South Dakota initiative calls for nonpartisan elections, with no party labels on the ballot.

    But still advances the top two vote getters from the primary to the election, correct?

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