", "Here Comes Everybody", "Medium", 2016 Elections, Biz Stone, Clay Shirky, Ev Williams, Protest Votes, Refusing to Vote, Third Parties, Twitter, Voting, Write-in Votes
As I occasionally do, I am posting a link to an article that I found of value. It’s not arguing for any particular candidate, but it’s author, Clay Shirky, believes “There’s No Such Thing as Protest Vote,” and he explains why.
If you read the article, scroll to the very bottom and click on “Show All Responses.” Unlike many Comment sections following an article that may be controversial, some of these responses are quite good and many take exception to what Shirky writes, but they do so respectfully.
I’m pasteing in the first few paragraphs so you can see if it is something you want to spend the six minutes it will take to read the article:
There’s No Such Thing As A Protest Vote
We’re in the season of protest vote advocacy, with writers of all political stripes making arguments for third-party candidates (Jill Stein, Gary Johnson), write-in votes (Bernie Sanders, Rod Silva), or refusing to vote altogether (#NeverTrump, #BernieOrBust.) For all the eloquence and passion and rage in these arguments, however, they suffer from a common flaw: there is no such thing as a protest vote.
The authors of these pieces rarely line up their preferred Presidential voting strategies — third-party, write-in, refusal — with the electoral system as it actually exists. In 2016, that system will offer 130 million or so voters just three options:
A. I prefer Donald Trump be President, rather than Hillary Clinton.
B. I prefer Hillary Clinton be President, rather than Donald Trump.
C. Whatever everybody else decides is OK with me.
That’s it. Those are the choices. All strategies other than a preference for Trump over Clinton or vice-versa reduce to Option C.
You can link to the article Here and get to the Comments Here.
Clay Shirky is someone I respect and follow. He wrote an important book — Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008) — and is one of the more informed and thoughtful individuals on the emerging role of the Internet and on Internet technology. Among the many other things in which he’s involved, he teaches at NYU and his writings and thoughts are usually at the forefront of what is happening in this new world of the Internet.
Medium, the site on which Shirky published this article is a somewhat new ‘publishing platform’ founded by Ev Williams and Biz Stone, who among other things were founders of Twitter. This endeavor is to give writers a longer space (longer than 140 characters) to post articles. They also have writers of their own, and I think Shirky might be writing for them. Their website explains, “Medium is a community of readers and writers offering unique perspectives on ideas large and small.” If you’re interested in learning more about Medium, you can check out the site here.
Finally, as always, I encourage MillersTime readers to comment, respectfully, on these linked articles directly on my site. Please consider doing so and let others know what you think about Shirky’s view that “There Is No Such Thing as a Protest Vote.”
Tim Malieckal said:
I totally agree with this realpolitik reduction of the election, and I also think that American voters understand, deep down, that it’s those choices or Ralph Nader 2.0.
The problem is that at either end of the age/rage spectrum, we have people who are either close enough to the end of their life [“F it, I’m gonna die soon anyway, and I want my pound of flesh”] or are just starting out, look at voting like following a band on Spotify, and don’t yet grasp the reality of the two party duopoly [“If we can’t have, like, free tuition and like, everything we want for free, then I’ll have nothing at all!”].
[On that note, Sanders should be ashamed of himself. He knowingly promised people unicorns dancing on rainbows that he HAD to know was completely impossible, and if he really thought a ‘political revolution’ was in the offing, he’s been smoking some of Vermont’s local flora for far too long. What a perfect encapsulation of the eternal narcissism of ‘The Me Generation’ becoming fully weaponized by deluding millennials].
This is not just an American phenomenon; see Brexit, in which Old n’ Angry Albion screwed its youth for the forseeable future. But the closer we get to the actual vote, the more we’ll see the more liberal minded youth begrudgingly vote for Hillary.
I blame this fiasco on the charlatans on the media, who dishonestly distort every issue into a 50/50 ball. It’s been completely cynical clickbait for over a decade. I now peg journalists just beneath Hedge Fund Short Sellers on a moral compass scale.
Land Wayland said:
Nice analysis for the short run/ this election but not so much for those voters who look to the future. Whether an individual votes in any election rarely makes any difference anyway. So if a voter wants to vote his/her ego…vote away. The laws of big numbers obliterate the efforts of the hopes of small numbers. It is only when enough individuals opt for a common strategy that they have any chance of influencing any election,,,and creating and developing a strategy is a process that usually takes time.
Although it may be futile in a specific election to vote for a losing candidate or a losing cause, if enough people do it often enough and loudly enough, some candidate or party will recognize that there is a bloc that can be appealed to and will create a campaign that throws an issue bone their way.
To put it in the negative, if voters never vote for a losing or minority issue, that issue can safely be completely ignored by the political parties and their candidates. Which of the current candidates has made a definite statement regarding further exploration of the moon, or whether Antartica should be colonized or whether the United States should have a national standard for what constitutes drunken driving. None, because these are not issues that are of major importance to more than a few voters and virtually none of the voters in November are going to make their voting decision based on these issues.
While it may be futile, in the short run, to vote for or support an obscure issue or the least popular candidate, if no effort is made, that silence guarantees that nothing will ever be accomplished regarding that candidate’s political philosophy or that issue.
Sometimes a protest vote is essential to bring attention to the issues or candidates of the future. That is the message that many who are not happy with the lack of a suitable candidate will send in November with their vote (or non-vote). Whether that message will be listened to before the next election is another matter, but if the voters don’t do it, it is very likely the candidates won’t do it,