This piece was originally written on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 . The positive responses on other social media platforms were the inspiration for the start of this blog.
As someone registered with a third party, I frequently face the same question from pundits and journalists: “How can you step into a voting booth knowing that your candidate is going to lose?” Ideally, I would love to respond with a challenge to their understanding of there being no discernible difference between Team Red and Team Blue, and that they are collectively and aggressively fucking the nation (without lube, dinner, or flowers I might add). However, some wise, dead white guy who probably spent too much time in the woods and read by candlelight, once observed that a person can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. I can’t say wise, dead white guys have ever lied to me before (though, I could be wrong) so in the interest of maintaining a perfect record (assumingly) of solid advice from wise, dead white guys, I am going to try the honey.
sips tea I’ve been awake since 4, and it took until 9:30 for me to have the mental capacity to attempt this so bear with me.
Yesterday, Kentucky citizens went to the polls and…
Pumpkin spice, in case you were wondering. Found it at Kroger. Quite delicious. Feel free to quietly chuckle at any “basic” jokes that come to mind.
We went to the polls, bubbled in boxes on a piece of paper, submitted this page to a machine, patted ourselves on the back for doing our civic duty, and collected a gold star “I Voted” sticker. At least, that’s what y’all did. I drew the line at number three. There was no patting myself on the back. Not even the holy “I Voted” sticker. Just get in, get out. Quit fucking about. Ya ho, ya ho, ya ho. (Y’all know that song, right?) To confirm the views of the aforementioned pundits and journalists, yes, I went into it knowing that my candidate – the one and only David Patterson – was going to lose. And not just lose, but absolutely stomped. Call me bitter. Call me jaded. I still showed up. The official results, according to AP, are as follows:
Mitch McConnell (R) – 806,806 – 56.19%
Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) – 584,791 – 40.73%
David Patterson (L) – 44,337 – 3.09%
If this were a day at Keeneland, you best believe that I would place no bets on the Patterson Thoroughbred. However, that reduces a public selection of the people who control handle the laws that outline our lives down to a horse race and the idealist side of me cringes at the thought.
Add “idealist” to the list of things I’ve been called. Democrats call me a Republican. Republicans call me a Democrat. And both have referred to me as a nihilist, an anarchist, an extremist, a tea bagger, a conspiracy theorist, and a host of other things that I now shrug off. As stated in the About Me section, I’m a student of Austrian Theory economics; usually recognized as “anarchism,” “anarcho-capitalism,” or “laissez faire.” If you’ve met anyone else from this group, chances are, they’re also part of the crowd that abhors voting because “it only encourages the bastards.” For me, anything that is a step in the right direction is a step that should be made, even if it doesn’t perfectly mesh up with deeply held beliefs…as I continue to illustrate.
So why bother? Why not act like a normal person and pick the lesser of two evils? At the risk of sounding like a pompous jackass, I prefer sticking to principles. I don’t like Republicans, but I absolutely hate Democrats.
This is 99% in reference to the politician arena, not the voter population. I like to think that I’m able to maintain civility and develop common ground with the average voter. Granted, there is a 1% group of extremists on both sides that I would love to throw into the ocean with life rings made of salt. Chances are, if you’ve made it this far into this piece, you’re not in that 1% group.
And above all else, I truly and honestly felt in my heart that Patterson had the right ideas and goals in mind, and would perform well. Aside from the Non-Aggression Principle, a core belief of libertarianism is the idea of “only you know what’s best for you, and no one should interfere with that,” which is a common thing that I hear from people from all different political identities. Combine that with media reports of low voter turnouts on election days, and I think it is clear to see in what direction the country is headed and I want to be a part of it. Rather than go on and on about “muh feelings” though, I’d rather present another set of numbers courtesy of census.gov:
2013 Kentucky Population: 4,395,300 (approx.)
2013 Kentucky Population over 18: 3,379,986 (approx.)
2014 Total Votes between D, R, and L parties: 1,435,934
Assuming universal eligibility for people over the age of 18 in the state and no one wrote in a candidate, this leaves a population slightly larger than 1.9 million who are unaccounted for in the election. Those 1.9 million people could have easily given Patterson a landslide win.
“But Braaaaad… they didn’t. What’s your point?” Calm your tits. I’m getting there.
Here are some numbers from a 2013 Gallup poll regarding voter party identification on the national scale:
Identify as Republican: 25%
Identify as Democrat: 31%
Identify as Independent: 42%
Yes, I am fully aware that says “independent” and not “libertarian.” This doesn’t mean that I’m not ecstatic that almost half of the country identifies outside of the Two Party paradigm. This means (according to who you ask and I’m obviously biased in what I’m going to say) that 42% of eligible voters in the US are open to something new. 42% of voters are willing to negotiate. 42% of voters hold ideas and opinions that don’t perfectly mesh up with one party or the other. And in a perfect world (perfect to me), these are 42% of voters willing to vote libertarian. This obviously isn’t the case, so I leave it as 42% of voters who are open minded enough to hear something new. Regardless, this is a record high (since 1988) for people who are breaking away and trying to get a better option in the political realm. Following the trend from the Gallup chart, this number is expected to continue upwards.
“But Braaaaad… The political world is so polarized these days. How can things be getting better if they’re getting worse!?”
You are absolutely right. NPR reported on it. The Mises Institute had an excellent analysis. The original study can be found here. For the people who identify with Team Red or Team Blue, it is no longer just a simple alignment or identity tag. It is bordering on a cultural war.
For Democrats, Republicans are awful people who eat puppies and deserve to burn in hell.
For Republicans, Democrats are awful people who eat puppies and deserve to burn in hell.
As mentioned in About Me, hyperbole is a cornerstone of my humor. Deal with it.
So 56% of people have their convictions. Their voices are getting louder because government gets a little more involved in our personal lives every year. When their (perceived) enemies want to change that, they have more partisan ideas at stake. They can’t afford to lose their grip. Thus, they scream louder. It seems more deafening now than it did in years past. Regardless of the volume, though, the number of voices is getting smaller. Besides, they’re not the ones I’m concentrated on. Yes, they’re a threat to our individual liberties, but they will eventually implode on themselves. The point I want to drive home is that 42% of the country’s population identifying as independent is a big chunk of people; a chunk big enough that it would be ludicrous of the media to try to ignore it. Why am I putting so much emphasis on people identifying as independents? McConnell won the Kentucky race. He won with a clear 16-percentage point lead. Remember: almost 2 million eligible voters did not participate. Almost 2 million independent people abstained from the polls in Kentucky. Let’s recalculate what McConnell and Grimes got relative to voter eligibility:
McConnell: 806,806 votes of (approx.) 3,379,986 = 23.87%
Grimes: 584,791 votes of (approx.) 3,379,986 = 17.30%
Rounded up to 24%, McConnell’s poll earnings nearly match up perfectly with the Gallup Poll’s findings for Republican identity from last year. Grimes, however, falls short of the 31% national average for Democrat identity. Chalk this up to Team Blue losing ground in a red state, or members of Team Blue not viewing Grimes as a viable candidate. It’s open to interpretation.
My opinion: Kentucky is a coal state. Miners, and their supporters, vote Republican. As long as that remains a fact, the Dems will never gain traction.
The point is – when put into perspective with the number of eligible voters in the state – the two major parties fell short this year.
Despite the polarization…
Despite the massive donations…
Despite keeping the voice of third party opposition out of the public light…
The establishment (D and R combined) picked up a mere 41.17% of Kentucky’s approval. 58.83% of the state’s population (much higher than the previously mentioned 42%) said, “I am not impressed with what you’re doing or what you are offering.” 58.83% of the state wants a better option. 58.83% of the state felt it was better to stay at home than to disgrace themselves by choosing between a giant douche and a turd sandwich.
I hope Bill Lamb of WDRB is paying attention. I hope he can do basic math to check my numbers, because I want that 58.83% figure to ring in his head the next time he makes a foolish statement about how “a libertarian candidate has zero chance of winning this election.” No chance, you say? Patterson finished out yesterday with approval from 44,337 voters; a 3% total of participants. That could have been exponentially higher with adequate, and fair, public exposure along with participation in the candidate debate. In the meantime, libertarians will have to rely on old-fashioned grassroots campaigning (since we can’t get corporate sponsorship). Campaigning that will not only spread the word of a viable third candidate, but also spreading the idea of removing the sugar coated, Two Party veil from the eyes of the public. 1,988,446 Kentuckians. That’s a lot of people, but as long as the establishment continues their mudslinging and inability to maintain approval ratings, we will get there in no time. The days of bipartisan bickering are numbered. Real change is coming. And if a publicly described nihilist… anarchist… extremist…etc etc what have you, can possibly lead by example and head to the polls to demonstrate the public demand for a worthy candidate, then so be it.
And that is why I vote.