THE “WASTED VOTE” ARGUMENT - ANSWERED
by Michael Cloud
He warned me.
“When this commercial break is over, I’m going to throw you the toughest
question for Libertarian candidates,” said WORC Talk Radio Host Tom LaRoche.
“So buckle your seat belt.”
I smiled. I love tough questions. Especially on the radio.
“I don’t want to waste my vote,” he said. “If I vote Libertarian, the worst
of the other two candidates might get elected. I want to vote Libertarian,
the Libertarian is the best candidate, but I just can’t take the chance… Mr.
Cloud, how do you answer this argument against voting Libertarian?”
“Do you want your vote to matter?” I asked. “Do you want your vote to
“Of course I do,” he said.
“Voting for the lesser of two evils, voting Republican or Democrat out of
fear that the other is so much worse…THAT vote is wasted,” I said. “Because
the candidate who gets your ‘lesser of two evils’ vote thinks that you are
voting FOR him. He thinks you like what he’s doing, that you want what he’s
giving you. Is that the message you want to send?”
“No, of course not,” he said.
“You know how K-Mart got the message that you didn’t like anti-gun activist
Rosie O’Donnell in their ads?” I asked. “When they saw Wal-Mart’s profits
going up. When they saw K-Mart’s profits going down.”
I was warming to the subject. “Do you know when the Republican politicians
and the Democrat politicians got the message that the American people didn’t
want deficits? When Ross Perot got 19% of the vote for President in
1992…campaigning almost exclusively against THE DEFICIT!”
“Politics is a marketplace. A business knows you’re happy with their
service and products when you spend money with them. Lots of money.
Suppose you don’t like the service or the products, but you keep shopping
there. Would they clean up their act? Would they get the message that you’re
unhappy with them? What if you go to their complaint department again and
again, but you keep shopping with them? Would they get that message?” I
“But when you spend money with their competitors, they get the message. When
their competitors’ market share increases, they get the message. When their
market share decreases, they get the message,” I said. “And then they either
change their behavior or lose your business.”
“When you vote Libertarian, when Democrat and Republican politicians see
Libertarian candidates getting 10% or 15% or 20% of the vote…on a platform
of shrinking government size, spending, and power, on a platform of making
government small…that’s a message they respond to,” I said.
“You waste your money when you spend it with businesses you don’t like. You
waste your vote when you spend it on politicians you don’t like. The only
way to get rid of bad businesses and bad politicians is to do business with
their competitor,” I said. “The only way to make your vote count is to vote
Libertarian. Does that make sense, Mr. LaRoche?”
“Yes it does. I agree,” he said.
Does my answer change people’s minds? Not everyone’s. But it does persuade
Want one example?
A lifetime Republican from Arizona was in the studio during this interview.
When the radio show ended, the Republican said that I had changed his mind.
Then, at my request, he filled out a Libertarian Party membership form, paid
his $25 dues, and joined us. (LP NEWS, August 2001)
In 2002, Michael Cloud was the Libertarian U.S. candidate against John
Kerry. Mr. Cloud won 384,304 votes – 19% of the total - the highest
Libertarian U.S. Senate vote total and percentage in Libertarian Party