Election Choices – Right, Wrong, or Expedient

I will not be voting for Mitt Romney.

That statement has lead to several rather passionate discussions from friends and relatives who are well-informed and truly want to do the right thing, and I respect and appreciate their efforts. That, however, changes nothing.

Every four years, America goes through The Most Important Election In History. I should have noticed this earlier, but it has taken me just a few months short of sixty years to realize that it is ALWAYS “The Most Important Election In History”.

At some point, we need to come to the realization that life is not segmented into four year terms. People fail to take the long term view because they have no tolerance short term sacrifice. When you take the long view, sometimes that means that bad men get into office; it is also true that they might well do some serious and irreversible damage. Doing what is right is seldom a painless endeavor.

Let me note here that I have been a bit more than just a passive observer of the political process, although there is no need to repeat the details in this post. I am not some dreamy kid with an idealized “vision” that is out of touch with reality. I understand that politics involves compromise – but I also understand that voting does not, or at least it should not.

• Florida is shaping up to be a key battleground state for this upcoming presidential election. Obama and Romney are dead even in the polls.
• In a race this close, every vote is important.
• Obama is not only doing an extremely bad job as President, he is working directly counter to everything that has made America such a remarkable nation in history. He is working to destroy America.

With all that said, I will not be voting for Romney – even if I could somehow know that my one vote would make the difference in this election. I will be voting for a candidate who has no realistic chance to win. I will be voting for the Constitution Party candidate, Virgil Goode. Now, for the purpose of this discussion, his platform is not important; the same arguments would apply to any number of other minor party candidates.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
— John Adams

What drives your choice in an election? Our entire system of government was designed around the idea that people would vote for the person who best represented what they honestly wanted in their leadership. It was assumed that a morally upright and honorable people would make such choices.

There were no political parties when the Constitution was written. The two party system developed because it is very effective at what it does: it allows a powerful elite to select our political leadership. From the voters’ perspective it is like going to a car lot filled with every make and model imaginable, yet being told you must choose between the blue car and the red car – of the same model. And from that experience, people cast their vote and then walk away believing that they have chosen their leaders. Amazing.

Here are three short videos that may help shed some light on why I am voting for a minor-party candidate who cannot possibly win, yet one who represents what I am looking for in leadership for this country. They are also about why I will not be voting for Romney – and those are two different issues.

For more on the moral requirement that we vote for the candidate we truly believe would be the best leader (no matter which party they represent), please see the Lost Causes post.

For a more practical-oriented discussion, see “Voting Strategy 2004 – When The Lesser of Two Evils Is No Longer An Option” – a document I wrote in 2004. This covers some of the practical (i.e., expedient) reasons for voting for a minor party candidate – if that is who you believe is the best choice. You may want to take a few minutes to read it.

As a closing note, Alan Keyes (featured in the first two videos) served as an ambassador under Ronald Reagan and was a presidential candidate in 1996, 2000, and 2008. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak when I was a delegate to the Republican state convention in Florida. Ambassador Keyes is truly a remarkable man who loves his country. He was the only candidate at that convention who received a standing ovation. He was wildly popular among many of the delegates, yet the media shamefully treated him as though he were just the janitor sweeping the floors. Why? Because he was not the chosen one. He was not the man who the party leadership had decided would be the nominee. He was ignored by the media, just as Ron Paul was ignored in this election.

10/18/2012 – Edited to add: I didn’t write this post because I think I have all the answers (though at times I wrongly think I do), so I’m still making an honest effort to sort this out and do what is right. Please be sure to read the replies before leaving a reply. Constructive criticism and comments are deeply appreciated. Most folks follow the crowds like robotic drones; there are very few of us who truly agonize over the question of what is the right thing to do. Thank you.

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
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18 Responses to Election Choices – Right, Wrong, or Expedient

  1. Peter Kelley says:

    Excellent post. I think it visits something we’ve all been too slow to address.

    You’ve asked:

    What drives your choice in an election? Our entire system of government was designed around the idea that people would vote for the person who best represented what they honestly wanted in their leadership. It was assumed that a morally upright and honorable people would make such choices.

    I’m not sure you meant it that way, but I see two separate issues in that statement. One is that folks would choose those who they truly wanted in leadership roles. The second is that they would do so from a position of honor and moral uprightness.

    Looking at only the first point, I think the US electorate probably does vote for the person they honestly want in their leadership. Sorry to say that but I think it’s true in the worst of ways.

    The voter may sigh and tell you they only reluctantly voted for the ‘lesser of two evils.’ However, voting for evil just because it’s the ‘lesser’ evil isn’t an impressive example of goodness. It’s simply an example of being a political pharisee so that you can be seen in the streets and gates of the city doing the right thing.

    That voter may tell you that they carefully researched the candidates in the most unbiased way. However, if that voter belongs to a public organization, union or business conglomerate that will obviously benefit from the choice of candidate ‘A’ rather than candidate ‘B’, you’ll be forgiven your doubt.

    The voter may loudly claim to vote only on the basis of ‘what’s good for us all’. However those who reap the benefits of this government program as opposed to those that reap the benefits of that government program will likely vote in the most predictable ways.

    Frankly, there really isn’t anything wrong with any of those three voters if their legitimate interests are reasonably balanced against the legitimate interests of others. It’s just when their interests – legitimate or not – become their only criteria for voting that we descend from an informed democracy to an informed anarchy – which we have come close to being today.

    The problem with the presidency, or with US leadership in general, isn’t Barak Obama or Mitt Romney. It wasn’t Bill Clinton or many others who sought, and still seek, that and hundreds of other offices. It isn’t even with the Republican or Democrat parties, as much as they tweak and twist the system to their benefit.

    The problem is with the US electorate and US residents in general. We have, for many of these four year cycles, played the part of fools willingly choosing between the two knaves currently in contention. Who can blame the knaves? It’s working for them.

    That’s why internet sites and other public commentary that focus on families, traditions, values and an upright culture are more useful in the long run than all the sophisticated state and national political coverage we’re able to ‘enjoy’ today. For the sake of the ‘Dan’s’ and others who apparently visit your site simply for the sake of misunderstanding it, I’m not referring here to anything approaching intolerance, racism, white supremacy or any of the other paper punching bags they trot out.

    I’m referring to wholesome Christian beliefs being practiced, as well as daily possible, among a responsible and caring people with a reasonably common set of beliefs and practices.

    Oh-oh! That last sentence alone will probably raise the cry of narrowness and bigotry among some. It surely would if presented to a wider national audience these days. Be that as it may, the overall level of public life will not rise until that goal’s achieved and it will never be achieved in the public, political arena.

    (Here I’m going to just skip over the question of whether or not it’s even possible to have a reasonably common set of beliefs and practices given the flood of very different groups into the US during the last fifty or so years.)

    Regardless of our current makeup, the leadership of the US (both political and commercial) is so ethically and morally wanting that addressing people’s outlooks and practices from the ground up – as is done by a number of organizations and sites such as this one – is now probably more important than any of these elections have become.

    A different knave in a different four year cycle is still a knave. We need to learn that. Still, it’s useful to participate in the election process if only to not lose by default. I, too, will be voting for the Constitution candidate.

  2. UK Fred says:

    From what I have seen of the US presidential race, I would agree with your decision. The only time to be diverted from that path is in a situation in which one candidate is clearly very much worse than the other for the office for which he or she is standing. For example, if presented with an Obama-like candidate and a truly libertarian one, even when the libertarian candidate wore a Democrat label (unlikely as it may be) in a close race, then a vote for the libertarian Democrat would be the right choice. But the chances of that happening are infinitesimal.

    Where there is little difference between the ‘main’ candidates, as in the UK between Labour, Liberal and Conservative, then I would vote for UKIP (a libertarian party) if possible or, if not, spoil my ballot paper by writing on it that none of the above deserve election, as I have done in the past.

  3. Good to hear from you, Fred.

    Before “discovering” the Constitution Party, I was very much in the fold of the Libertarian Party here, and still consider myself libertarian (with a little “l”). In the mid-1990’s, I met with the Libertarian Party in Central Florida. I was considering running for the Florida Senate as a Libertarian. That fell through when it became apparent that the “herding cats” image of the LP extended to their idea of how to run a campaign. They were “pleasantly naive”. Even though there was about zero chance of winning such an election, if they weren’t going to take it seriously, then I decided that I had other things to do with my time.

  4. The Big H says:

    Stephen, I agree with many of your points, but most especially this one–Obama is working to destroy America. Carter, Clinton, Kerry, Gore and Bush did or would have done serious and irreversible damage. But This Time It IS Different. All those idiots/conspirators together could not have done what eight years of Obama will do. This is not about avoiding short term sacrifice, nor holding your nose and voting for the lesser of two evils–it is about the end of America. The Republicans are nothing. Romney is nothing. But our nation–our nation–must be saved. Urge you to reconsider. Respectfully yours.

  5. Thank you for your thoughtful reply, sir. While my plans are firmly set, I can assure you it only was after a lot of thought – as I trust that yours have been carefully thought through also. I am confident that I am doing what is right; however, it is not my goal to debate or to try to sway others – only to present my plans and my reasoning why. I deeply appreciate your dedication and desire to do what you see as the right thing to do. It is so rare today to find folks who look to higher matters than what a candidate says he is going to give some group of people. Our society is over-run with the “gimme dat” class.

  6. I now realize that my previous statement that “my plans are firmly set” no longer applies. While my plan is still to cast my vote for the Constitution Party candidate, I am starting to question if that truly is the right thing to do. It isn’t any one thing. It isn’t any one argument (in fact there have been some arguments that have had the opposite of the intended effect on me). It isn’t something that I can really articulate at this point. Perhaps it is an understanding of resignation – a realization that no matter what any of us do, no matter the claims of this being the “land of the free and home of the brave”, that we really don’t have a voice beyond choosing between two sides of the same coin.

    Is my absolute disgust with the current occupant of the White House sufficient reason to vote for the only viable opponent? Is the reality of the situation such that we have only two choices and that is all we will ever have? If so, does that mean that the only right choice is one made between the two candidates that the voters are presented with? and any other “choice” is not really a choice at all? If that is the case, then is it also fair to say that we, the voters, should accept the fact that the ONLY choice we have is to ratify one of two choices that we are presented with? And does such a ratification mean that we really support the basic platform of that candidate?

    I just don’t know. I have 22 days to figure it out. Honest discussion is sincerely appreciated.

  7. J. Stephen Conn says:

    Stephen, Here’s another Stephen who will be voting for neither Obama nor Romney. Actually, I’m still a bit undecided, but will be voting for either Virgil Good (Constitution Party) or Gary Johnson (Libertarian).

  8. James Berry says:

    Thank you very much for your post. I decided long ago ( when there were still several candidates vying for the Republican nomination) that I was going to vote for Virgil Goode. At first it was mainly the repulsion I felt yet again for the calibre of candidates that were running. However as time went by I felt more and more sure that I was doing the right thing. It’s rather like the old joke about the weather- everyone complains about it but no one ever does anything about it. Well, this election season, I’m going to do something. I realize Virgil Goode has no chance of winning, but like you I feel that he is the candidate who best represents the kind of person that we ought to elect. How will things ever get better if we keep settling for the choices the establishment gives us? I agree that a second term for Obama would be bad- but how would Romney be any better? He is not truly pro-life, he is not averse to big government (just look at his record as governor), and he like the current President will say anything to curry favor with the electorate. It’s pretty bad when you feel you can’t trust either major candidate to govern as they ought instead of continue with business as usual, which can only lead to major trouble. As bad as things seem, I think Obama or Romney will only make things worse. I have never seen the amount of political dissatisfaction that we have this year. What better time to at least try to begin to make a change? I also believe that our Sovereign Lord is in charge, and His will shall be accomplished, no matter what happens this November. And Him I do trust!

  9. Mic says:

    Thanks for the vote for Obama. I hope you feel like you’ve helped when we hit 50% on SNAP.

  10. Dwain McDonald says:

    Yes, it’s a sad state of affairs. Unfortunately this is what we have to work with. Not voting for Romney is a vote for Obama.

  11. Apparently some folks didn’t read my latest reply here.

  12. Tracie Craig says:

    My husband and I have discussed this issue extensively. We finally arrived at the conclusion that we will be voting for Romney, primarily because we cannot conceive of America under an Obama who will not have to worry about re-election. We just recently watched 2016: Obama’s America, and it merely confirmed many of our fears.

    I know several people who will be voting third party candidate, knowing that candidate doesn’t have a chance, and that their vote might contribute to a win for Obama. They all seem to be of a “bring it on” mindset towards the economic and social devastation they foresee will happen if he does. Personally, I don’t understand that at all. I am not oblivious to the many problems in our country, but I have no desire to see it ruined. It is my home, and the home of my children and grandchildren.

    That is why our household is voting for Romney – it is the only viable way we have to vote against Obama.

  13. It is with great sadness and a sense of resignation that I have now come to that same conclusion. There was a lot to consider and no easy answers. It almost makes me physically ill to realize that we truly are stuck with merely ratifying one of two alternatives presented to us. I, too, will be voting for Romney – but I certainly don’t like it.

  14. The Big H says:

    Just checked in again, Stephen, to see the progression of this thread. You are right–it is a stomach-turning decision. But what a point Tracie made–the thought of “America under an Obama who will not have to worry about re-election.” And as someone elsewhere said, if we can sweep BO, MO, Clinton, Holder, Sebelius and Napolitano, et al out of DC (Romney can’t possibly bring in a wrecking crew like this), we can begin working on Mitt’s replacement in December. May God have mercy on our nation.

  15. Stephen
    I too always held myself above voting for the lesser of two evils.( I don’t think Romney evil) In 1860 had not the men stood up for principle, (splitting the ticket, for those who don’t know) which in the abstract I would applaud, and rather made a wise vote, Lincoln would not have been elected. Thus the horrid evils of a tyrant would not have been unleashed and the South not have been plundered, pillaged and raped. Would I, in hindsight, place principle over wisdom? Is not wisdom a virtue?

  16. Picwa says:

    Let me express a grudging admiration for those who understand the gritty, dirty work of politics–Democrats, union thugs, community organizers. They don’t sit around belly-aching about an electorate that doesn’t see things their way. They instead know that to advance their agenda, they have to get people to the polls.

    The rest of us moan that the electorate has no respect for the Constitution. Well, the fact is that most of the electorate doesn’t know squat about the Constitution. That’s a fact–it’s our job to deal with it. So what should we do? This:

    1. Deny power to those who would do the greatest and most irreparable harm. THAT MEANS VOTING FOR THE CANDIDATE THAT HAS THE BEST CHANCE OF DENYING BHO A SECOND TERM.

    2. Then–AFTER THE MAN WHO WANTS TO FLUSH THE CONSTITUTION DOWN THE TOILET HAS SAFELY BEEN USHERED INTO RETIREMENT–work on changing the electorate’s culture and knowledge base. Groups such as the Tea Party and Americans For Prosperity have shown us how this can be done, and have actually gotten principled candidates elected over “moderate” incumbents and party-boss favorites. It’s hard, gritty work, the results accumulate slowly, but there’s no other way.

    A vote for a 3rd-party candidate instead of Romney advances the cause of he and they who wish to destroy the Constitution. There’s no “principle” in that.

    We are not defeated until we give up.

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  18. Great post, well said. I didn’t vote for either on election day. Many of my friends were appaled that I didn’t select the “less of the two evils.” (It’s what they all called Romney.)

    My excuse was that it was physically impossible for me to vote. I had one hand pinching my nose and one hand covering my mouth to hold back the gag reflex. No hand left to pull the lever.

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