Rant about the scapegoating of non-voters, third party, etc.

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vividgroovy
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01 Aug 2020, 10:30 pm

A facebook friend just posted a meme stating that people who don't vote for the candidate she likes, including people who don't vote at all, are actually voting for the candidate she doesn't like. This seems to be a commonplace argument these days. She even commented on it, “It's the truth!”

So how exactly does this work? Somehow, out of the void created by my non-existent vote, a vote materializes. Could it go to the candidate this person likes? NO! Of course not! It is instantly, magnetically attracted to whatever candidate she doesn't like. This raises the question – how did the opposing candidate get this advantage and why doesn't her preferred candidate try to attract a few of these non-existent-yet-existent votes himself?

Partisan voters criticize non-voters for their apathy towards politics. However, this argument also claims that third-party voters and alternate-candidate write-in voters are, in fact, voting for the undesirable candidate, just exactly as the non-voters are. Presumably, these people are not apathetic. They're holding out hope for unlikely outcomes. That they might have more than two options. That the person they actually want might someday be the candidate of their party. Yet they're condemned right alongside us non-voters.

I think I understand what this argument is actually saying. Vote for our candidate and not any other option because we want as many votes as possible so we can win. So why can't they just say that, instead of inventing this narrative that preemptively scapegoats anyone who doesn't vote their way? Has this ever actually motivated anyone to vote/change who they're voting for? Or is it just to make the partisan voters feel good?

(Note: this post refers to U.S. politics. I don't know if this kind of thing goes on in other countries.)



Tim_Tex
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01 Aug 2020, 10:48 pm

A non-vote or a third party vote takes a vote away from both of the Big 2. It means Biden won’t get that vote, yet neither will Trump.

Biden, however, has a 10+ point lead in most polls, so I don’t think one supposedly “wasted” vote will result in a Trump re-election. I would be more concerned about voter suppression than how one person voted.


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TheRobotLives
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01 Aug 2020, 10:48 pm

Maybe there's fallacy of the form ... "you're either X or not X".

This thinking is echoed in the George Bush line and then Lucas was accused of mimicking it in Star Wars ....

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01 Aug 2020, 11:21 pm

I've always responded to this sort of logic with 'but if I vote for either s**t sandwich I'm only encouraging them to serve more s**t sandwiches in the future'.


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01 Aug 2020, 11:42 pm

vividgroovy wrote:
Or is it just to make the partisan voters feel good?


I think its a way for voters to vent steam, especially when they perceive the opposition party to be an existential threat to their freedoms/lives.


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02 Aug 2020, 12:01 am

If you vote 3rd party, you are helping someone win. That was how Trump won. They go with electoral votes so people that don't vote for either party and go for third, one of the upcoming presidents' gets a point.

That is why there are Trump voters and Trump supporters. One can vote Trump and not be a Trump supporter. They just feel our US would fall under disaster if Biden wins. There is a lie he has Alzheimer's so who wants that for our president while Trump doesn't suffer it so they will go for Trump because having a racist president, someone who loves power, is a narcissist and a big bully is better than having a Alzheimer's president. Yes if they believe it, they will vote Trump if they don't want to vote 3rd party.


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02 Aug 2020, 12:20 am

League_Girl wrote:
If you vote 3rd party, you are helping someone win. That was how Trump won. They go with electoral votes so people that don't vote for either party and go for third, one of the upcoming presidents' gets a point.


I can see how that is true. Electoral votes are awarded based on the total population of the state (probably a little more to it than that but I'm lazy). So as you say the winner of the electoral vote did in essence get your vote and that of everyone elses in the state (minus Maine and Nebraska). That technically means the fact that I draw breath in my state contributed to Trumps electoral win in 2016! :P :(

This is why the U.S. needs a popular vote, or at least rules like Maine and Nebraska where the electoral votes are split.


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02 Aug 2020, 12:26 am

Feyokien wrote:
League_Girl wrote:
If you vote 3rd party, you are helping someone win. That was how Trump won. They go with electoral votes so people that don't vote for either party and go for third, one of the upcoming presidents' gets a point.


I can see how that is true. Electoral votes are awarded based on the total population of the state (probably a little more to it than that but I'm lazy). So as you say the winner of the electoral vote did in essence get your vote and that of everyone elses in the state (minus Maine and Nebraska). That technically means the fact that I draw breath in my state contributed to Trumps electoral win in 2016! :P :(

This is why the U.S. needs a popular vote, or at least rules like Maine and Nebraska where the electoral votes are split.



One of my on line friends voted 3d party in the year 2000 because he didn't like Gore or Bush. He regretted not voting against Bush and decided to never make that mistake again. He felt responsible for him winning.


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Feyokien
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02 Aug 2020, 12:38 am

League_Girl wrote:
One of my on line friends voted 3d party in the year 2000 because he didn't like Gore or Bush. He regretted not voting against Bush and decided to never make that mistake again. He felt responsible for him winning.


I imagine, especially people living in Florida that didn't vote/voted 3rd party.


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vividgroovy
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02 Aug 2020, 1:22 am

League_Girl wrote:
If you vote 3rd party, you are helping someone win. That was how Trump won. They go with electoral votes so people that don't vote for either party and go for third, one of the upcoming presidents' gets a point...



I can't speak for third-party voters, but here's my take as a non-voter: I could have voted for Trump in the 2016 election. I never had any desire to do so, but the possibility was there. The number of votes I could have given him is 1. The number he got from me was 0. I live in California, which Clinton carried in 2016, so there is no way my one vote would have helped Trump get the electoral votes for my state. And he won the election without winning my state. So even if I had actually voted for him, it would not have helped him in any significant way. Yet this argument claims that by NOT voting for either side, I helped him win?



Last edited by vividgroovy on 02 Aug 2020, 3:44 am, edited 3 times in total.

vividgroovy
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02 Aug 2020, 1:25 am

TheRobotLives wrote:
Maybe there's fallacy of the form ... "you're either X or not X".

This thinking is echoed in the George Bush line and then Lucas was accused of mimicking it in Star Wars ....


Similar to this, whenever I see these arguments, I always think of Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast" crying "IF YOU'RE NOT WITH US, YOU'RE AGAINST US!"

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02 Aug 2020, 2:10 am

The probelm with the claim that "voting 3rd party" or not voting is a vote for the "other" side is there is no way to know whether, had the person voted, they may have instead voted FOR the other side.

It is equally possible, had they voted for one of the 2 main parties, that they may have voted for the one the people complaining are against, and so the "3rd party" or non-vote may actually be benefiting them unknowingly.


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02 Aug 2020, 5:09 am

In an electoral system with First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) voting, only the votes for the winning candidate matter in the end. As such, the battle will always between the two parties with the most votes (the 1st and 2nd party).

If a 3rd party candidate draws away exactly as many voters away from the 1st and 2nd party, then he or she has no impact on the outcome of the election. If a 3rd party candidate however draws relatively more votes away from one of the parties, then he or she is aiding the other by narrowing the gap/increasing the lead.

The most infamous example of this is probably Ralph Nader, who ran on a Green platform in 2000, which likely appealed more to prospective Al Gore voters than George W. Bush voters (Gore was likely on of the "greenest" politicians in Washington in the 1990s).

George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in Florida by only 537 votes, which secured him the Presidency of the United States.

Ralph Nader got 97,488 votes in Florida.

So, assume that:

- Ralph Nader hadn't run for office.
- Half of those votes would go to either Gore or Bush (the rest wouldn't vote or find another third party candidate)
- Gore would receive only 51 percent of the remaining Nader votes, while Bush would get 49 percent.

... then prospective Nader voters would still result in a net gain for Al Gore of 974 votes over George W. Bush in Florida, and Gore would have become President in 2000.


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02 Aug 2020, 5:26 am

League_Girl wrote:
If you vote 3rd party, you are helping someone win. That was how Trump won. They go with electoral votes so people that don't vote for either party and go for third, one of the upcoming presidents' gets a point.

I voted 3rd party in the 2016 election. My vote was an attempt at getting that 3rd party candidate to win. Had I not voted for that 3rd party candidate, I wouldn't have voted at all. My 3rd party candidate vote was not a vote for Trump, nor was it a vote for Clinton. It was a vote for that 3rd party candidate. If the Republicans or the Democrats would present better candidates, then perhaps they would get my vote. But in no way does my voting 3rd party help either one of them. That's just utter nonsense.

P.S. I'll be voting 3rd party again in 2020. Trump? Biden? Please.



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02 Aug 2020, 10:59 am

In 2016, Mike Pence claimed any vote that wasn’t for Donald Trump was a vote for Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, Barack Obama claimed that any vote that wasn’t for Hillary Clinton was for Donald Trump. Following the logic of those two gentlemen, anyone who voted for a third party candidate in 2016 also voted for both Clinton and Trump. It’s incoherent.

For most people, the best use of your vote is to vote for one of those two main parties.

There is some value in voting third party if that party aligns closely with your personal values, as it signals to the main parties that they could attract your vote by shifting in that direction. This is particularly true in “safe states”. However, in states where either side could win, you will have a much bigger impact and shape the future of your country if you vote for whichever of the main parties that you prefer.



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03 Aug 2020, 3:50 pm

vividgroovy wrote:
League_Girl wrote:
If you vote 3rd party, you are helping someone win. That was how Trump won. They go with electoral votes so people that don't vote for either party and go for third, one of the upcoming presidents' gets a point...



I can't speak for third-party voters, but here's my take as a non-voter: I could have voted for Trump in the 2016 election. I never had any desire to do so, but the possibility was there. The number of votes I could have given him is 1. The number he got from me was 0. I live in California, which Clinton carried in 2016, so there is no way my one vote would have helped Trump get the electoral votes for my state. And he won the election without winning my state. So even if I had actually voted for him, it would not have helped him in any significant way. Yet this argument claims that by NOT voting for either side, I helped him win?



Not voting also helped him win because we have electoral votes. Half of the US citizens didn't vote. Clinton had more votes than Trump but he won by electoral.


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