Imagine we are all in elementary school.
The teacher says that for recess, we will either play kickball or tag. Let’s all vote! The sport with the most votes wins and everybody will play that sport.
You don’t like kickball or tag. You’re having trouble deciding which you hate more. So you decide that you will write down the sport you really want to play: tennis. You bring your “tennis” vote up to the teacher.
Your teacher tallies up the votes. Kickball wins! We’re all going outside now to play kickball. Nobody will be playing tag. Nobody will be playing tennis. Or handball. Or basketball.
It’s kickball for everybody. You’re not excluded because you didn’t want kickball. You’re picked and you’re playing. If you don’t like how the kids in your class play kickball then maybe you should have voted for tag.
If kickball ends up not fun, telling people you voted for tennis won’t matter. You didn’t vote for tag so tag didn’t win. Kickball won partially because you voted for tennis. And maybe Susie voted for pickleball and Jimmy voted for Mickey Mouse. Oh, Jimmy.
Your vote ended up not counting. Your only REAL choices were kickball or tag. Any vote for anything else pretty much went to waste. Even if a few of you had voted for tennis, it wouldn’t have been enough to beat the kickball majority. After all, most of the class weren’t writing in random votes. They were voting for the one of the two choices they’re given.
You may not have taught the teacher anything. Next recess, the choices may still not include tennis. Voting for tennis may not have “sent a message” to the teacher that we should be playing tennis. The next vote will probably be kickball (today’s winner) vs dodgeball (a new challenger).
You will live in the country under the winner.
Your best chance at having your vote be a meaningful addition to the final count is to place it for one of the two viable candidates… or against the other candidate.
The easy part this election cycle is that each candidate stands for completely different things. Nearly direct opposites. While each is flawed, chances are that in the Venn Diagramme of policies, ideas, needs, and preferences, one candidate is more of an overlap to yours than the other candidate. Your stances on immigration, LGBT issues, abortion, minimum wage, taxes, and the economy might help clue you into which candidate better matches you.
Another helpful clue is: would you rather see a liberal-leaning judge added to the Supreme Court or a conservative-leaning judge? Your answer there tells you which President you want to vote for.
Vote for that person that best matches you, whoever it is, among the two key candidates who have a shot at winning. We’re not playing tennis. We’re playing kickball or tag, so you might as well pick one.
Your “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Ted Cruz/Bernie Sanders” bumper sticker won’t win you any friends and might even lose you friends. Judging by what my friends tell me, it’s already ending friendships and the election is 2 months away. The people who wanted Trump will know your Ted write-in helped Hillary get elected. The people who wanted Hillary will know your Bernie write-in helped Trump get elected.
President Hillary Clinton. President Donald Trump. One of those probably made you naturally react bigger than the other. You have your clues. Act on them!
Learn from the Nader votes years ago. What did we learn from them? Did we suddenly turn into an equal three party system? Nope. Was the Nader voice so loud that it changed how elections went? Nope. Bush narrowly beat Gore. Or did he.