Voting Clarification

While responding to a comment in the Why Not Vote Libertarian? post, I realized that I probably didn’t make my reasoning clear enough in that post and thought I’d clarify by posting Daryl’s comment and my response here:

Count me as another (small “L”) libertarian who is going to vote for Kerry. My rationale? Divided government. Gridlock seems to work best by working least. And, since it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the GOP will retain one or both houses in Congress, the only hope for divided government is Kerry.


I agree that gridlock is a valid reason to prefer Kerry. With a Republican congress he, like Clinton, will probably get little of his preferred economic agenda passed; and the actual outcome won’t be too bad.

However, I think there are other, more compelling, reasons to prefer Bush (War on Terror, tax policy, Court nominations, etc.).

But, my main point is that it isn’t a logical or ethical necessity to vote for the outcome you prefer. Wanting an outcome and voting are different things. You might want to express your preferred outcome with your vote, but you don’t have to. I don’t feel a need to do that.

You shouldn’t really expect your vote to determine the election, so you should think hard about what you do want your vote to do. What kind of expression do you think justifies the effort of casting a vote? I think expressing my preference for libertarianism is a better use of my vote than expressing which of the major candidates I hope will win.

My preferred outcome of the election is that Bush barely wins, but loses (and wins) several states by a smaller margin than the number of libertarian votes. That might encourage both parties to take libertarian positions more seriously. I think that libertarians splitting their votes between Bush and Kerry will do nothing to help move this country toward libertarianism.

Your Mileage May Vary.


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