Monday, November 03, 2008

Go third-party? Or don't vote?

UPDATE/NOTE: Because of its timeliness, I've decided to keep this "on top" for awhile. Already read it? Check for newer posts under it.

I mentioned I was thinking of writing about the option of voting third-party. A number took that as a promise, and they have been wanting me to come out with it. So now, here you go: I promise it will be worth
at least every penny you paid for it.

Every election cycle Christians declare that they are disgusted with both parties, tired of voting for "the lesser of two evils," and so they're going for some third-party candidate. Or they're so disgusted that they won't vote at all.

I've never done the latter, but have done the former. Years ago, when the contemptible and contemptuous Pete Wilson ran for re-election as governor of California, I believe I voted Constitution Party (or whatever it's called here). That was probably the last time I'll ever go third-party. Why?

Reasons for voting third-party
Many evangelicals feel that we are to the GOP what blacks are to the Democrats. We're the betrayed wife. The party sweet-talks us, then cheats on us. They take us for granted. We haven't lost our minds entirely, so we don't go Democrat and actually oppose every distinctive Biblical value we have. Rather, we go third-party "to send a message."

These people see no difference between the two parties. Republicans haven't stopped abortion. They haven't revolutionized taxes. When the GOP controlled White House and Congress, the performance of Congress was pitiable, and President Bush raised and raised and raised spending. So these folks commonly say that both parties are heading for the cliff. The only difference is the Dems are doing it openly, 150 miles per hour, smoking dope and drinking hard liquor in their tie-dye T-shirts all the way. The GOP is doing the same, but at 140mph with a Bible and a hymnbook and a three-piece suit.

By contrast, the third-parties are pure. They'll eliminate federal taxes altogether, or instantly bring a flat tax. They'll outlaw abortion, right away, or turn it back to the states. They'll do away with all burdensome, freedom-raping regulations. They'll outlaw homosexual marriages. They'll strap a pistol around every law-abiding citizen's waist. They'll empty the jails in favor of restitution. They'll shut down the Dept. of Education, and government schools.

We like that straight-talk, rather than incrementalism that is so glacially slow as to be invisible. So we go for the guy who says, "I will make a touchdown in the first quarter, then we can all go home." We despise the guy who says, "The path from here to their requires a thousand tiny turns, takes a lot of hard work and persuasion, and can't be done by simple fiat."

So... what's wrong with that?

Why a third-party Presidential vote this year is foolish and irresponsible
  1. I start with the most popular, and yet sadly most foolish and Biblically absurd argument: "lesser of two evils." It never ceases to astonish me that any Christian who has, and has read, and believes a Bible containing Romans 3:23 and 7:14-25 and James 3:2a finds this a compelling argument. Every vote for a mere son of Adam is a vote for the lesser of two evils. There are no exceptions! It doesn't matter who your candidate is! He is limited intellectually, spiritually, morally, and dynamically. He will not always know the right thing to do nor the right way to do it. Even when he does know, he will not always do it. Even when he tries, he will not always succeed. So if you're going to think this through like a Christian, you must make your decision on some other basis.
  2. Next, when I grew up a little, I wrapped my mind around the fact that politics is the art of the possible. It is not a decision about whether to murder someone or not. It is a question of moving the ball in the right direction. So I have three quarterbacks vying for my vote. One absolutely will move the ball far in the wrong direction. Another will move it a bit in the wrong direction, a bit in the right direction, and the net will be a small but significant move towards my goal. Or at the very least prevention of a net move in the wrong direction. The third? He claims that he will instantly make a touchdown. But there is one big problem: he does not actually belong to either team on the field. So he must score this promised touchdown in spite of three fatal roadblocks: (A) every player on the field will be trying to take him down; and (B) no player on the field will run defense for him; and (C) most of the people in the stands will boo and throw things at him. So in the end, he will accomplish nothing.
  3. In fact, all third-party candidates will accomplish NOTHING of what they promise. Why not? Well, for starters, there are two people in the world: those who think a third-party candidate has any realistic chance of winning the election, and sane people. You can't keep any promises if you don't win office, and they can't win! Next, even if that circle could be squared, they would have no constituency in Congress. Nobody to present their legislation. Nobody to craft their bills. Nobody to argue for them. Nobody to vote for them. They'd have to be dictators or tyrants.
  4. All third-party candidates are immature, fools, and/or liars. Which, I think, is a minus! At least, it's a fatal flaw in their leadership qualities. How can I make this claim? Because they either know they cannot win and are misleading and misdirecting their supporters and (already!) wasting their money; OR they do not know it, in which case they are hopelessly out-of-touch fools. So they know, for instance, that the two possible candidates differ very sharply on the issue of abortion. They themselves oppose abortion, as does the GOP ticket. So followers who also oppose abortion would naturally vote for the GOP candidate if they had only two choices. But, wrecklessly and egomaniacally, they mislead their followers into thinking that there is a viable third choice. They take the vote that would naturally go to the one pro-life candidate, and turn it into an empty gesture — which benefits the candidate who adores abortion, which they (supposedly) abhor. So they actually help score a touchdown for the other side. Brilliant. Idiots.
  5. I'm a grownup. I want to make a difference, not a gesture (i.e. "sending a message"). I don't know if there has ever been a more stark nor consequential choice in my lifetime. One candidate has a sterling pro-life voting record, and an even more persuasively pro-life running-mate. The other never met an unborn child he wouldn't just as soon see dead, and even in the most gruesome way imaginable. He thinks spreading abortion is the most important thing he can do. I agree with the former's position, and as a Christian I abominate the latter's. If I do not help the former, I help the latter. Simple as that. I've read hundreds of words from third-partyers. While I share many of their goals, I really think it's all about them. It's about making themselves feel better. Me? I'll feel better if I keep that monstrous, pro-infanticide position out of the White House. That suits my conscience just fine. And what about "sending a message"? I'm sending the message that the abortion issue is critical in a Presidential election. I'll support a man who is less than my ideal, because he's on the right side of the life question. Otherwise, if I vote for a non-player the only "message" I send is "I'm irrelevant. I won't help the pro-lifer, and I won't hinder the pro-deather. Ignore me."
  6. This election will have a huge impact on the state of abortion law. As I've documented repeatedly, Obama is the most viciously merciless and doctrinaire Presidential candidate in history, when it comes to abortion. We've made progress in abortion over the years, and it's made a difference. Thanks to President Bush's appointments, some restrictions have squeaked by the Supreme Court. Now there are 2-3 justices who are about 900 years old who are holding on for a liberal president. You let Obama load the SC and other benches, and you will set the pro-life cause back legally for years. You will hurt every aspect of its public face. And, to be blunt, if you do not vote for John McCain, you are helping Barack Obama.
So what about not voting?
As I've said, I have no respect for this position whatever. I think it is self-indulgent, irresponsible, and contemptible. I think you're like a person who watches his wife get beaten up, making smug little jokes about how hard it is to pick sides in such conflicts.

This election provides stark choices. If Obama wins, he has promised that he will radicalize abortion in America. He will force you and me to pay for the scalpels and poison. He will tilt us off instantly in the direction of European socialism, or far worse.

How much worse? We don't know. He won't tell us. His records are hidden, questions are not answered. Arrogantly, Obama says he'll hold a press conference... Wednesday.

But we do know Obama allies himself with terrorists, Marxists, racists. That's his posse. That's the sauce in which he has marinated his soul. And that's what he brings to the White House.

So you make your cute, smug little "stand" of not-standing. You sit at the back of the class, sniggering, mocking the teacher, and passing notes.

Imagine yourself talking to your grandchildren in 10, 20 years.
"Grandpa, tell us again about when people could offer help and literature in front of abortion clinics. Tell us again about when crisis pregancy centers weren't against the law. Tell us about when preachers could preach against abortion and homosexuality without being thrown in prison for 'hate crimes.' Tell us about when you could own our own handgun to protect your family. Tell us when some states had some laws making it harder to kill babies. Tell us when there used to be that place called the Internet, where you could network, and speak freely and internationally. Tell us about when America wasn't under international law and international courts. Tell us about those times, Grandpa."
And then picture the wrenching nausea you feel when they ask, "And tell us again why you didn't do anything to stop it when you had the chance, Grandpa."

In closing
You want to make a statement? Buy a sign. Get a blog.

You want to make a difference? Vote for the only candidate with any possibility of making any positive difference in any of the categories I've outlined. That would be — much as I regret to have to say it — John McCain.

I say this particularly to you who live in "battleground" states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. I'm stuck in California. My wife and I grimly joke that the two people in line behind us — no matter who they are — cancel out our vote; then the two behind them double that.

But if you're in a contested state, you especially matter. Wake up. This election really matters. Don't make a fantasy-gesture that leaves us with a reality-nightmare.

Rules for the meta
You're my guests, and there are house-rules. In addition to the ones posted:

I won't allow this meta to go off in a hundred different directions irrelevant to the post. Try it, and you may get as much as one curt response; then you're done.

I also won't allow our trolls to repeat long-refuted nonsense. If a troll throws up something he's already had answered a half-dozen times ("But Sarah Palin is so unqualified!"; "But Obama isn't really pro-abortion!"), or challenges some statement that's been documented a dozen times in my daily posts, he can expect his post to disappear, and perhaps his right to post at all along with it.


Carol Jean said...

I've spoken to some people who either won't vote or who are voting third party because there is a woman on the McCain ticket. John Piper had a great response to this on his blog today: Why a Woman Shouldn't Run for Vice President, but Wise People May Still Vote for Her

"...a person with my view may very well vote for a woman to be President if the man running against her holds views and espouses policies that may, as far as we can see, do more harm to more people than we think would be done by electing a woman President and thus exalting a flawed pattern of womanhood. In my view, defending abortion is far worse sin for a man than serving as Vice President is for a woman."

JackW said...

Well worth the wait Dan.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

So, are you saying that a person should not vote their conscience, but should vote strictly based on pragmatism? Since McCain is the only "viable" choice against Obama ( the only workable alternative), then he is the pragmatic choice, and is the only option a person has other than Obama. How come we frown when churches operate on pragmatism? Why is it okay when it comes to voting?

Can I not vote my conscience, on principle (who, for me this year, is Chuck Baldwin), and trust that God will place into office whomever He has decreed to put there?

A conviction is something that has hold of you, and by its very nature, a conviction does not change based upon outside influences. My convictions are not based upon circumstances. My convictions are not swayed by situations. Therefore, I have voted based upon my convictions, and this year those convictions have led me to voting for Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party.

God is bigger than our vote, and I would hope people will make sure they are not doing violence to their conscience before they pull the lever on Tuesday. Vote your conscience, and trust in God's providence to put into office whomever He has willed to win.

The one thing I've heard no one address is the possibility that God's will may actually be for Obama to win. And, no matter how many people hold their nose and cast their lot for McCain, if God has sovereignly decreed Obama to be the victor, then that is what will take place.

Who knows, maybe that's just the wake up call the American church needs.

CR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kay said...

I'm interested, because I think the US system works differently to the UK, what would have to happen for there to be a useful third party candidate? A significantly sized third party?

In the UK, we have other parties making significant headway on the big two, but as they point out, people not voting for them 'because they won't win' is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. As it happens, the significant third party here is further to the left than Obama on many issues, but that's politics in the UK for you.

You might be interested to know I just voted on a mainly UK christian forum in a 'mini-american-election'. I actually did vote GOP, after much thought. You probably won't be surprised to know that so far, I'm one of only three to do so, while 13 have voted for Obama.

My question is, I have great sympathy with the conscience-led third party vote, while taking all your points about pragmatism, so what would have to change for a third party vote to be worthwhile at any level?

CR said...

Brian: So, are you saying that a person should not vote their conscience, but should vote strictly based on pragmatism?

That is not what Dan is saying! How you should be voting is from an informed conscience. If you have read Dan's post, you can no longer claim ignorance. Some people that will waste their vote on third party, can claim ignorance. That doesn't make their vote less wrong, but they did it ignorantly. You cannot claim that Brian. If you vote for your third party candidate, you do that now with a guilty conscience.

Also, I'm growing weary, from being called a pragmatist. It's not the first. I have an obligation as a Christian living in the democratic structure that I live in today to try to change things in a way that was open to first-century believers. This is not a position of mere pragmatism, it is a principled position. Not voting or voting for third party is not principled, because as Dan already explained, your third party candidate cannot win.

Dan - Thank you for the post. This was very thorough and principled and comprehensive.

Mike Westfall said...

My conscience tells me not to cast a vote that helps the Marxist baby-killer win the election. That precludes voting for any third party, at least for me.

Elections aren't only about who to vote into office, but given the reality of the two-party system in operation here in America, there is also the issue of to keep out of office.

Vote your conscience, sure. But let your conscience be fully informed, by who might be elected if your candidate doesn't win.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

What are you guys (and gals) going to do if Obama wins? If you hold to the sovereignty of God in all things, then you must acknowledge that God Himself placed Obama there.

And CR, all that Dan says is not pure gold and a result of divine inspiration. It's his opinion. I have already voted my conscience, and for the first time in a long while, there was not a guilty feeling whatsoever. So, thanks for your commentary, but my conscience is clear AND informed.

Dan himself expressed regret over having to vote for McCain. Countless others have told me they can't stand voting for McCain, but they are doing it anyway. That, in my opinion, is a violation of one's conscience.

Remember, Obama will only get the number of votes he needs if God has decreed it. Just like with Pilate, he will have no authority except for that which God gives him.

ps. The only reason someone like Chuck Baldwin doesn't have a chance of winning is because of all of you who who won't vote for someone they can actually support based upon biblical principle, and instead year after year do the same thing expecting different results.

CR said...


Yes, our system is quite different from your system. There is no third party candidate that I'm aware of that has one seat in the Congress. We have a few independents in the House and the Senate but they are not in a third party per se. They are just registered as independents. Third parties have no chance of gaining any federal political office in the United States.

You also said: I have great sympathy with the conscience-led third party vote, while taking all your points about pragmatism snip snip .

I think, I could be wrong, that Dan would take great objection to being labeled what he said here as pragmatism. I realize you’re going off what Brian just said. Brian is erroneously labeling Dan's post as pragmatism. Pragmatism is a practical approach to problems and affairs which has behind that idea of trying to strike a balance between principle and pragmatism. Dan is not striking a balance between principle and pragmatism, he is being principled. What is the principle: Christians are obligated to be good citizens which means changing things for the better, in the democratic structure that we live in, when we can. A third party vote changes nothing. It is neither principled nor pragmatic.

Anyway, just thought I would mention that, because I noticed Brian sneaked in that thought of Dan being pragmatic - it's not, it's principled.

Unknown said...

I stay disconnected for a couple of days (hospital with daughter, working) and this is what I see when I come back. Out of respect for you Dan, I will take your thoughts and opinions under consideration and prayer. It is very doubtful that it will change my vote on Tuesday, however I will take this into account.

Anonymous said...

It seems odd to me how many professing Christians have come out of the closet this election season and are singing the praises of the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.

What is disturbing is how little they seem to understand regarding man's responsibility in relation to God's sovereignty.

Kay said...

Ah, well, I wasn't using pragmatism as a pejorative there, but I take the point, as I took the point of Dan's post (and indeed used similar reasoning in the mock-election). Goodness me, though, I'll be glad when the day comes that I don't feel the need to explain to Christians the difference in degree between sticking scissors in a baby's head and someone not having health insurance. Come, Lord Jesus.

DJP said...

Ricky, thanks for at least thinking about it.

Brian, I'm so sorry to hear you've already wasted your vote on a self-referential gesture.

Someday I'll have to write about how "conscience" is not another way of saying "feeling good/bad." I've felt conflicted about lots of right things I've done; what guided me (at my best) was the Word and wisdom.

You do admit I'm right in one major regard, though, and I appreciate it. Veiled in the charge of "Pragmatism!" is the admission, "Sure, what you're saying will have a positive impact on the real world, while I tilt at windmills... but still, you're bad!"

So I might defend my family with a pistol that could mis-fire, or I could miss, or it could be taken from me - it's fraught with perils, true.

But you, Brian, oh no: You have made a drawing of a ray-gun that never jams, never misfires, and has a built in Disgronificator that only seeks out and kills Evil Men!

So yours is much better! And you'll bet your family's life on it!

Except it doesn't exist, so it will never, NEVER defend them!

But when a bad man breaks in, violates and harms them all while you wave your drawing at him, you can tell yourself that what happens next the sovereign will of God.


I'll stick with what you call "pragmatism."

Because the Bible calls it "wisdom" (Proverbs 12:11; 15:22; 16:1, 9; Luke 14:28-33). Considering the consequences of your actions is being a grownup, not unbelief.

And that includes not frittering away this stewardship of voting, as I believe you did.

PS - I really despise giving Calvinism a muddy name by using the sovereignty of God to cloak irresponsibility.

DJP said...

PPS - and if we're going to abnegate our responsibility to make wise and responsible adult decisions, and hide behind what God "could" (but has not promised to) do, then — why not vote for John Calvin?

After all, God could resurrect Calvin, make him an American citizen, teach him American English and the last ~500 years of history, change our Constitution, and cause him to win the election! Couldn't he? Why "settle" for Baldwin when you can have CALVIN? Come on! Where's your faith?

After all, it's just as likely as Baldwin or Barr or Nader or Keyes or Harry Potter winning.

Mike Westfall said...

I don't believe you dealt with the notion of voting third-party to "send a message."

Or rather, whether that message gets received.
Seems not, from past experience.

DJP said...

That's in my mind when I write about making a gesture. I'll go back and stick it into the text, to make it clear.

Ken Abbott said...

"What are you guys (and gals) going to do if Obama wins? If you hold to the sovereignty of God in all things, then you must acknowledge that God Himself placed Obama there."

Maybe (probably) I'm dense, but I don't see how this is a problem. Has God never raised scoundrals (Pharaoh, Ahab, Manasseh, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod--I could go on) to high office for his own purposes? Sure, if Senator Obama is elected President of the United States this week God has ordained that it be so. But for blessing or for curse--that is yet to be seen.

DJP said...

And besides, when God Himself has put it in my hands to say "No!", and stand in Obama's way — if I then refuse to act wisely, and shrug the disastrous results off onto God's sovereignty, it's hardly honoring to God.

Further, I refer you to my 2:44pm response.

RC said...

"What are you guys (and gals) going to do if Obama wins? If you hold to the sovereignty of God in all things, then you must acknowledge that God Himself placed Obama there."

Of course. If Obama is elected President, God Himself placed Obama there.

Nonetheless, God putting a tyrant (like Nero) in a position of power doesn't make the tyrant any less of a tyrant.

Jay said...

Voting for third-party candidates at the federal level at this point in time is an obvious waste of time and energy (unless you're in a small state where Independents and Libertarians have more of a chance). However, supporting third-party candidates at a local level can be productive. I voted for a few Libertarian county commissioners this election cycle. I think they stand a decent chance of winning, and if they do, that only adds to the legitimacy of the Libertarian party in North Carolina, and could eventually lead to Libertarians running for Senate or the House who would actually be contenders.

I think it's fine to throw your support behind a third party, but it has to be done on the small scale first.

candy said...

The lot is cast into the lap but God determines the outcome.

Brian. It is not a bad thing to vote strategically, and in fact, not voting so is almost like voting for Obama.

For someone with a clean conscience I wonder why you take the time to defend yourself. Why bother?

Kay said...

Jay, yes that's the sort of thing I was interested in, thanks for your answer. I don't know nearly as much about the US system as I'd like.

mikepettengill said...

Great blog Dan.


foolish and irresponsible

Anonymous said...

The next time I cross at a busy intersection, I'm going to ignore the traffic and the lights, because God has the power to prevent me from being hit and He may exercise that power.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said... on principle and trusting that God is in control is now irrsponsible and dragging Calvinism through the mud? On contraire, mon frere...I'm just putting legs to my theology. What I am seeing from others is fear. Fear that they cannot vote based purely upon their conscience and principle and must instead somehow make a difference by their action which is in conflict with their own desire (clearly evidenced by all the lamentation of voting for McCain). A wasted vote is one which is cast out fear and not conviction.

I never thought I'd see someone ridiculed for casting their vote based upon their conscience (and I'm not referring to feeling good or bad...give me a little more credit than that, please). Just because I differ in my conclusion from you and base my decision upon something other than who can win (from man's perspective) over Obama, you throw me under the proverbial bus.

Your mentality here is the reason why someone like Baldwin doesn't have a chance. Instructing people to vote based upon viability and not purely upon principle, I think, is what is irresponsible.

Why is it that so many of you are leaving your theology at the door of the voting precincts?

DJP said...

So here's your curt response and first warning, Brian, as I promised in the meta rules.

You could have cut and paste that comment from anywhere and to anywhere. Everything in that comment has already been refuted in the post and comments. Did you actually read the post? Have you actually read the responses to what you wrote?

As I laid out in the meta rules: please, engage with the post and responses, or drop out of this one.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Again, "please, engage with the post and responses, or drop out of this one."

If a new topic interests you, fire away at your blog and set your rules for engagement there. I'd respect them.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Censorship at its best.

Rachael Starke said...

Some years ago I discoverd to my surprise, then dismay, then horror, that something I was confident I had thought, then said, because my concsience compelled me, was actually a wicked, prideful, presumptuous sin. My presumption deeply damaged a relationship with an unbeliever I had been pursuing for Christ. I repented with tears, and committed to never again forget that my conscience is as tainted by my flesh as the rest of me. I've read and heard Proverbs 3:5 and 6 misused so much in this regard...

I believe a lot of American Christians have been "asleep in the light" in taking for granted the freedoms we have and how fragile they are. This morning there was someone else at our church who I discovered had not even a basic understanding of what was at stake for Christians this year, as indicated by their >(reluctantly) "having" to vote for Obama because "he would help the poor like Jesus did." I was glad for the opportunity to share with him what Obamba's genocidal plan for helping the poor involves.

I'm thankful for the wake up call this election has been for me regarding our God-given responsibilities. Good citizenship in God's kingdom mandates good citzenship in our earthly one.

Thanks for your articulate passion, Dan. It's been tremendously helpful. To me, at least. To others, apparently, not so much. :) That's okay too, I think.

DJP said...


Considering the consequences of my choices? Gotta be pragmatism.

Open stating rules for commentary on my blog and then enforcing them? Has to be censorship.

Next: finding a way to eliminate the (br-r-r-r-r) potato bug hiding in my office will be... what will it be?


trogdor said...

"Your mentality here is the reason why someone like Baldwin doesn't have a chance."

Actually, the fact that he's running without any kind of support system is the biggest reason he doesn't have a chance. As has been said, if the Constitution party (or any other 3rd+ party) ever wants to have a shot at the presidency, it would sure help them to start building from the ground up instead of trying to jump straight to the pinnacle. If they want to have a national impact, how about trying to win some local races first? Get a significant number of mayors, state legislators, maybe a handful of US Reps - and if they dare to dream, maybe a senator or even a governor here and there. Show that they have the ability to actually deliver on their promises on the lower levels, and maybe then I'll consider them viable on the higher ones. You know, prove faithful with little in order to be trusted with much. Oh wait, sorry, I forgot I was supposed to have checked that theology at the door (which apparently means not voting in a foolish, irresponsible manner and claiming "God's sovereignty!!1!" as my justification).

Also, as the post talked about, while the Cons may have great ideas, virtually nobody is foolish enough to believe that they have any chance of accomplishing any of it. Most people view their presidential "runs" for what they are - exercises in self-aggrandizement. Someone with no chance of winning, and even less chance of actually accomplishing any of his agenda if he ever did win? Yeah, I'm totally on board with throwing money and votes his way to inflate his already-oversized ego. No thanks. The issues are too important to waste time, money, or a single vote on a vanity project.

As already mentioned, your invocation of divine sovereignty as an excuse for this is reminiscent of the hyper-Calvinist "if God wants to save them He can do it with or without us preaching" nonsense. Which is to say, it hardly resembles the actual Biblical model of divine sovereignty and our response, and sounds like a caricature the most ignorant Arminian could come up with. Divine sovereignty does not equal "enjoy the ride" fatalism. But thanks for playing, and I'm sure Th'Obama appreciates your support.

Oh, why not. One more thing.

"A wasted vote is one which is cast out fear and not conviction."

Here are some of my convictions. Th'Obama will do terrible things if elected. The only candidate who has a non-zero chance of stopping this is McCain. Therefore, to vote for anyone else is to vote for the terrible things Th'Obama has promised to do. This is really not that difficult. God gave us brains - we should use them. Looking at the issues at stake, weighing the options and likely results, and acting accordingly is not "pragmatism". It's just wisdom.

CR said...

I don't expect to change Brian's mind on this (so, Brian, please don't respond to me) but I at least want to respond to others are really confused and perhaps not well informed of the wasted third party vote. I want to share a few things, and this is from DA Carson's Book Christ and Culture Revisited.

First to mention that principle of how we should vote is comes from Romans 13. When Paul makes his argument on how we should govern ourselves he tells us what good government looks like: restrain evil, collect necessary taxes and act as God's servant in ruling. Now, Carson reminds us that we are living in an age and society of democracy where it is possible to good within government in a way not open to most (if not any) believers in Paul's day.

Two: The OT established the obligation of God's people to seek the good of the city in which they are exiled, even if it is not their permanent home. I say this, because there are many people who say we are acting as if this is our permanent home. We are not, we're just doing what the Bible tells us.

Three: the prophet Daniel gives an excellent and stellar example of faithful government service, establishing a reputation for integrity.

Four: We are told, when we have an opportunity to do good especially those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal 6:10)

Whatever God's decretive will is (which we don't know until it comes to pass), He makes very clear what his preceptive will is. Do good in the city in which you are exiled in.

Now, some of you who are voting third party probably voted for Bush in 2004. Barna did a poll and something like 85% of evangelicals voted for Bush and only 63% of evangelicals are planning on voting for McCain. Real quick what good was the vote for Bush in 2004 - what good did it do: saved 3,000 lives per year with the federal partial birth abortion ban and President Bush refused to federally fund new destruction of embryonic stem cell research. This forced the science community to use adult stem cell research more and some significant breakthroughs came from that. Also, let's not forget the two Supreme Court justices.

Now, let's ask the question, what direct impact of good does a vote for a third party candidate have for the city we live in - absolutely nothing, zippo, nada. Voting for a third party cannot directly impact the good of the city, because the third party candidate cannot win.

And you're not going to be able to get away with, "well, you know what, God is sovereign." Yes, He is sovereign, and He has given us very clear direction that we are to do good in the city when we can. A third party candidate does no good at all and can do worse if you live in a battleground state that could elect Obama.

So, anyway, I don't expect Brian to understand, but please share that with others that are thinking about voting third party.

CR said...

Rachael: Some years ago I discoverd to my surprise, then dismay, then horror, that something I was confident I had thought, then said, because my concsience compelled me, was actually a wicked, prideful, presumptuous sin.

Do you remember the saying, "Let your conscience be your guide?" Maybe there was a time in our country where that was a pretty safe MO, I perish the thought of people living today under that MO. Letting ourselves being guided by a Spirit filled and biblically informed conscience - not that's the kind of conscience which should be our guide.

candy said...

Rachel: VERY good points!

Al said...

OK OK....

While I worry that he will disappoint me greatly, I have moved from the "Vote No" camp over to the "swallow the bile and vote McCain" camp.

You helped move me Dan... though this post did not move me.

al sends

DJP said...

So, it's kind of an "OK... but nee-nee-ne-nee-nee?"

I can totally live with that!

Glad to hear it!

Take it as promise or threat, I mean to post my own apologia pro lectio sua, within the next day or two.

Al said...

Well, you should get it up before the election... Wednesday will look kinda silly.

al sends

DJP said...

I'm thinkin'.

Ooh, and you're in Florida. Sweet. Hope to God you're part of a large trend.

You know, all the issues aside, it just would be so sweeet to watch all the MSM talking heads explode.


Strong Tower said...


Nice call.

Vote for chains? Vote third party.

Rachael Starke said...

" just would be so sweeet to watch all the MSM talking heads explode."

Yeah, as long as that's the only thing that does. I'm kinda nervous about that whole piece of it...

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP: "And, to be blunt, if you do not vote for John McCain, you are helping Barack Obama."

Thanks for being blunt, DJP. Some people absolutely need such forthright directness to get the point.

As for myself, I've voting more AGAINST Obama than voting for McCain because of the abortion issue.

Susan said...

All right, Dan. You'll be happy to know that I will absolutely vote for a pres. candidate this time (and you know who it ISN'T going to be). I think I shared this on Pyro before, but one year I didn't vote for any candidates (only voted for the props), and a friend in the office building I worked in looked at me incredulously and told me what a waste that was. Well, we don't have to worry about my doing that this election.

And for everyone out there, some GREAT news. John MacArthur announced in GCC's morning service that starting Nov. 5th (yes, the day after the election), all of his 3,000+ messages can be downloaded from Grace to You FOR FREE ( You heard it here first (I wonder if Phil posted this on Pyro--haven't gone there today).

Susan said...

Another thing: Thank you for clearing up the "lesser of the two evils" notion for me, Dan. I used to lament over the choosing (because it really IS between two evils more often than not), but in this election I will make my choice gladly, discouraged as I may feel at times about some people's irrational and ignorant support of a certain candidate (we all know who HE is).

(Who knows? Maybe John McCain's SNL opening may even help him in some inexplicable way. I thought it was ridiculously hilarious!)

Kay said...

They even had the SNL thing on our news. I was chuckling heartily before going to bed last night - 'The Sad Grandpa' indeed :D Praying for you all. Can't recall saying before, but good post, Dan. Helpful.

DJP said...

What state, Susan? So I can know how happy to be.

Thanks, Libbie. I'm with you: McCain has a deft comic touch. I wince at their parodies of Palin (which I think funny, but unfair), but have to hand it to SNL: they do spread the "love" around. Letting McCain go on before the election? Cool. Their recent parodies of Biden/Murtha, and of Keith Olbermann? Devastating.

candy said...

My husband, joining me in conspiracy theory land, wonders if MacArthur is getting his messages out to as many people as possible in case Obama does win and eventually suppresses Christian media (probably sooner than later). I know I am excited to get his messages.

DJP said...

He said months ago that he didn't care about the election. But maybe someone there was thinking of consolation and encouragement, just in case.

jazzact13 said...

This presidential election has provided a rather classic no-win situation for someone like myself.

On the one hand, there are the Dem Leacherals. Voting for Obama is, for me, not an option.

On the other hand, there are the Rep Compromiservatives. I simply cannot trust McCain as a politician, which is sad, because although he's had his failings, as a man he seems to be one that can be admired and respected.

But McCain the politician isn't one I can trust. He has shown too often a habit of compromising with Leacherals on almost any issue.

The choice of Palin for his Vice-President was unexpected, and gives some life to his campaign. Before selecting her, I was anticipating him picking someone like Lieberman, who despite being a Liberal who can be partially respected is still a Liberal, and that I would in essence not be left with a choice. Choosing Palin at least gave me pause in that regard.

But maybe not enough. The truth is, McCain is still the one running for President, and while the VP pick is important, it doesn't supercede the Presidential choice.

So, what is a conservative like me to do?

The thought of not voting at all is there, and one I don't readily dismiss. It isn't enough to say that I'll be voting for "the lesser of two evils", because I would still be voting for an evil. An Obama presidency has the strong potential of being shameful and a disaster, but a McCain one doesn't promise to be much better.

I think that my vote has some worth. Not in a monetary sense, but in a sense of honor and approval and favor of what the person and the party stand for. It would take a very un-Democrat Democrat to have me vote for such a one, seeing all of the things the Democrat Party supports--legalizing immorality, the continuing of abortion, weakening of the military, higher taxes and the redistribution of wealth. A Democrat would essentially have to not be a Democrat in order to get my vote.

My vote, then, is simply not to be given to one I do not deem worthy of it. Obama is not, and I have my serious doubts about McCain.

So, what's left.

Not voting, as I said, is an option. Not because I do not value the right to vote, but because I do, and I must exercise that right with wisdom. And if there is no canditate I can approve of with my vote, then for me to vote just because there is an election with no one I can approve is to essentially waste that right.

There are also other, smaller parties. I'm not Libertarian, and certainly not a Green. I have read the positions of the Constitution Party, though, and while I'm not in complete agreement with them, I am enough to at least consider casting my vote for their candidate.

There is still time. Perhaps McCain can avoid pulling defeat from the jaws of victory, though how much of a victory that would be for all of us is doubtful.

And if we elect Obama, then, well, we'll only have asked for what's coming, and ourselves to blame.

DJP said...

Jazzact, as to your feeling conflicted about McCain, I feel your pain. Really I do.

So, how did I fail to respond to everything you said in your comment?

Andrew D said...

I was persuaded by Dan's faithful blogging along with helpful comments in the meta by Carlo during the past few weeks. The contrast between the candidates on the life issue (and the real likelihood that the next Pres can do something about it) is overwhelming. I cannot not vote for the only pro-life candidate with a chance to halt Obama's pro-infanticide direction for America.

Since I live in Virginia my vote feels especially important this year. This commonwealth, which was once a pro-life "sure thing”, has now become a battleground state. I think this happened through the influence of out-of-state transplants moving in Northern VA (where I grew up). The cities in Virginia are very liberal while the rural/suburban communities remain conservative.

Last Monday I sent my wife (who is somewhat politically uninformed) and my 8-year old daughter to attend a Sarah Palin campaign rally (I could not go with them because I had to work late). We live in Roanoke. It was freezing cold but they were inspired by here and they loved it! 18,000 people showed up. (Just one week earlier Obama spoke in Roanoke to 8,000 at a 10,000-seat indoor venue)

My wife came home and put a McCain/Palin yard sign on our front lawn. My car hasn’t been keyed (it’s parked on the street) and our house hasn’t been egged, yet.

I would vote for McCain even if he promised to raise my taxes 50% and launch a trade embargo against Canada. The fact remains that, according to God’s sovereign purpose, McCain is the only one with a chance to defeat Obama AND he is willing to defend the life of the innocent.

There are many important issues our country faces. But, when you weigh those issues on a bible scale, protecting innocent life trumps all.

We do not live in 1st century Rome, we live in 21st century America. God has given us some responsibility and stewardship in this arena. We dare not squander it.

Thank you DJP and Justin Taylor for keeping us focused on Biblical priorities regarding the voting privilege God has given us.

RT said...

Jazzact: "I think my vote has some worth." Truly it does, but only if you exercise it in some meaningful way. Not voting renders your right to vote worthless - probably no one disputes that. In our society a vote has only one legitimate purpose - to elect someone. If you deliberately vote for someone who you know for a fact cannot be elected, then you render your right to vote nugatory. Your vote becomes as meaningful as someone in Cuba voting for Castro. It is a case of disassociating the voting act from the voting outcome - the outcome being pre-determined renders the act meaningless. In your case, voting for a third party simply renders your vote meaningless. You can argue that it has meaning to you, but so what? The purpose of voting is not to make one feel good, or justified, or self-consistent or righteous, although on rare occasions that can happen. No, the purpose of voting is far more plebian and practical - it is to get someone elected. Thus, with utmost respect, I strongly urge you to vote for one of the two candidates that can actually prevail. In that choice there is meaning, particularly if you care about issues such as abortion, because on certain critical issues the choice is so stark that making the right choice may actually bring with it some of the second order pleasant effects such as feeling good, self-consistent, righteous, etc.

DJP said...

Andrew - thanks!

RT - very nicely-put. Thanks.

Andrew D said...

But now let me challenge Dan’s post to see how far he goes with it:

If we were talking about The Obama and for instance, Rudy Giuliani, would the situation be different?? One candidate is extreme pro-abortion. The other is of the “regular” pro-abortion flavor. Let’s just say he is content with the status quo. He will probably replace bad SC justices with similar ilk. But he’s not supporting the FOCA like The Obama.
Also, as with a Giuliani, you have another candidate lacking in character. However, he is not a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing comrade of terrorists, racists and Marxists. He is a run-of-the-mill womanizer (I think we’ve had one of those in the oval office before.) Sadly that is not unusual in American politics.
So anywat, he’s 10% better. Do you vote for him because he's the only man who can defeat Obama?

Lemme ask another way: in your opinion is it ever wise to vote for a 3rd party that has no real chance of winning?

This is a very real situation with state/local politics in many parts of the country. So it’s not just a hypothetical canard.

CR said...


I would not worry about that. Your question is like asking if there were pink elephants with yellow polka dots what would we....

The Republican party would no more nominate a social liberal for President anymore than the democrat party nominate a social conservative. I think it best to focus on what we have now and reality rather than hypotheticals. My opinion.

Andrew D said...

It happens at the state and local levels all the time. And they are the ones who make most of abortion laws.

DJP said...

Andrew, Carlo's answer is mine, but better-put than I'd've.

I've had to think my brain bloody to come to this point of clarity; pray God it doesn't get as miserably complicated as you propose. But, if it does.....

I'm not in principle opposed to a third-party presence. But that's the way to do it: start with smaller offices. Not the Presidency - for the reasons I outlined at length in the post.

Andrew D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew D said...

I should correct something I said:
It happens at the state and local levels all the time. And they are the ones who make most of abortion laws.

Correction: there has never been a parallel to The One in any state election I know of! What I meant is two candidates who are both pro-abortion to a differing degree. That happens all the time.

I pray that we are never faced with such poor options for the Presidency.

CR said...

Hence, why I stressed presidential candidate, Andrew. I know it happens at the state level.

Mike Westfall said...

Speaking of local politics and abortion, my wife had a good long phone conversation with one of the candidates for our local town council who's up for re-election. She talked to him for almost an hour, and was feeling pretty good about voting for him, but near the end of the conversation, she asked him about his views on abortion, whether he was pro-choice or pro-life. He corrected her, "You mean pro-choice and anti-choice."

Way to wipe out the goodwill built up by an hour's worth of phone conversation in less than 2 seconds! With that kind of sensitivity to his constituents, I don;t suppose he will be going far in his political career.

Also, the liberals are whining about a local church's audacity to use its freedom of speech.

OK, so that's not really on topic (3rd party candidates). Sorry.

philness said...

In 92 I believe it was, I was one of the idiots that voted Perot and help take away the Bush vote for Clinton. Thankfully Bush won Texas and it didn't really matter. But I will never make that mistake again.

Dan- a friend who hasn't voted yet just called to discuss this very issue and I was able to offer sound advice based on your diligent posts. I thank the Lord for what you do. And at the same time I praise your wife for following, for if it were not for your wife you could not lead.

Come soon Lord Jesus

DJP said...

That's great to hear, Phil; thanks!

We've all got skeletons.

I voted for Carter, in his first run.

Tell no one.

CR said...

I voted Perot twice. I was fairly conservative but very, very young and dumb and naive. We've all made mistakes.

jazzact13 said...

--Not voting renders your right to vote worthless - probably no one disputes that.--

Actually, I would. If there is ever a time when there is simply no acceptable candidate, then the only vote I would make is no vote.

--In our society a vote has only one legitimate purpose - to elect someone.--

I'm not sure I can agree with that. A vote should mean more then "I find this person's position bad but more acceptable then the others'", but more like "While I may not agree completely with this person, what they stand for a good and I can vote with a reasonable amount in confidence in him or her or them".

--If you deliberately vote for someone who you know for a fact cannot be elected, then you render your right to vote nugatory.--

I must disagree here. The only person whose vote is essentially meaningless is the one who goes in and writes in "Gumby" or "Cartman". But if a person gives thought and consideration to the candidates' and parties' positions and statements, then votes as he or she sees best, then that vote is not wasted, even if the candidate has only a miniscule chance.

Mike Westfall said...

A third party vote may not be completely meaningless.

But it's still nugatory (I like that word!).

Unknown said...

The only way to regain integrity back in the political system is to vote only for the candidates that will follow their oath of office, any other vote is just deceptive. The Constitution Party is the only national party that relies on Godly values and a support for the Constitution. I'm going to vote for Chuck Baldwin as it is the only vote my conscience will allow.

DJP said...

OK, now read the actual post, PA. All of it, please. You'll find it refutes your statement pretty thoroughly.

Then tell us what you think.

(BTW, that should be the normal order: read, and THEN comment.)

Difster said...

I haven't read all of the comments so I apologize if this has been said, but from a purely pragmatic standpoint, voting 3rd part is a GREAT pragmatic choice. If the GOP starts losing votes because it's fielding candidates like McCain, that's a good long term strategy.

You're only thinking short term here in voting for McCain. What about "the eternal perspective?"

I'm not voting for Obama but I certainly think that the disaster that he would be might ultimately turn back to more conservative views. McCain will be a less destructive choice in the short term but will pave the way for someone worse in 2012.

In non-swing states like California, why even bother ENDORSING (which is what a vote is) a guy like McCain when the vote won't really count anyway?

Your position really makes no sense from a Biblical or logical viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

You're only thinking short term here in voting for McCain. What about "the eternal perspective?"

How many babies are you willing to sacrifice in the short term to consider yours a good long term strategy?

DJP said...

Difster — my problem with your comment isn't your failure to read the comments. It's that you don't seem to have read the post. Anything not thoroughly covered there is handled within the first 15 comments.

Also, had you been a regular reader of this blog, you'd have seen Medved's column linked in this post, and you might not tried to paint longterm, irreversible disaster as a good thing.

Andrew D said...

Why even bother posting? Just post your headline, "Go third-party? Or don't vote?"? Then underneath your headline have an open forum where people can opine.

Seems like many people are doing that anyways!

DJP said...

LOL. You read my mind, Andrew.

More than half-seriously: maybe I'll do that sometime, wait for the first jerk of the first knee, and then put up the post as a comment. Or an update on the original (empty) post.


CR said...


Please stop trying to discourage Californian and other blue state voters from voting for McCain.

Obama is sending some ads here in CA because he is concerned about the growing support for prop 8 and he is concerned that more Republicans will show up to vote for McCain because of prop 8.

Also, I got some deceptive advertising in the mail. It said to vote for prop 8 and said that Obama does not support gay marriage. It's deceptive because Obama has come out against prop 8.

Please Difster, take your negative opinions to your own blog.

Rhology said...

Vox Day makes a point that says a lot to me.
DJP, you are acting as though one vote makes a difference. Vox Day has said that, in fact, my vote is completely insignificant. Even if the election turned on my vote, the courts would decide the outcome (and I add: that, or the losing side would "find" more votes to overturn mine).

I didn't see that addressed in the post or the comments, but it's an interesting question, isn't it?
And to anyone who might divert the question: I do plan to vote, so let's talk about this in the theoretical. My vote makes zero difference, but I vote anyway, mostly to deal with local issues.
But this might be off-topic, DJP, so if you deem it to be such, no worries, sorry.

DJP said...

I just think it's a silly thing to say. If your vote "makes no difference," then neither does Bob's, nor Fhaiza's, nor Raul's, nor Preethi's... and you keep going, and no vote makes a difference.

So the election is decided by votes that don't make any difference.

Which doesn't make any sense.

I say (and argue) that you vote like it makes ALL the difference. Men died so you could vote; men die today so you can keep voting.

It makes a difference.

DJP said...

-- buy hey, if you can convince a few hundred thousand Obama-voters that their vote doesn't make any difference....


Andrew D said...

Perhaps the only stewardship God has given you to influence public policy is one measly vote. I doubt that is all he's given you to work with (e.g. can you not encourage your friends/family to vote as well?), but let's say for the sake of argument that is all you have.

How is that different from the 2 copper coins that the widow gave in Luke 21? What did Jesus say about that widow?

RT said...

I am put in mind of a phrase attributed (probably wrongly) to Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Maybe the only thing you can do as a "good man" in this crisis is vote - even for someone you don't really like. Perhaps that makes the act more noble. Not voting, or voting for a candidate that cannot win (and in that crucial regard there is no difference between Gumby and Chuck Baldwin) simply makes one a spectator of the evil - like the Levite passing by on the other side of the road. I personally believe the election is still viable, but even if it proves not to be, the more "good men" voting the less we will have to listen to claims of a mandate, God forbid. Anyway, come what may, my conscience will be much clearer knowing that I cast even my one measly vote in a way that might, just might, favorably affect the outcome or at least the interpretation of the outcome.

jen said...

I'm in the battleground state of PA, and I've been waffling because in my opinion, no one running fits the office.

But this post and the comments following are having an impact on my decision.


REM said...

Sweet post, Dan, it needed to said. I always equated voting 3rd party to rooting for the Clippers in the Finals or the Lions in the Super Bowl-not going to happen.

Things are good here in Indiana-i cannot even believe we were considered a swing state. Haven't been blue in a presidential election for at least 30 years.

Anonymous said...

You make an impassioned and reasonable argument against voting for a third party candidate. In the end, however, it cannot withstand empirical scrutiny. Here's why:

1) 3rd parties can and do win elections in the United States. They do not do it all at once but by slowly building a core of support, sometimes nationally, sometimes locally. The Republican Party is a prime example of a 3rd party that burst onto the national scene in 1860. Using the logic of your argument Abraham Lincoln should never have run for president. Nor should Andrew Jackson (he finished 3rd in the electoral college in 1824 even though he won the popular vote). His Jacksonian Democrats came back to win the presidency twice in 1828 and 1832. But you would have instructed people not to vote for him. So 3rd parties can and do win, often supplanting one of the two prior major parties.

2) Voting 3rd party is not a throw away vote nor does it effectively cast a vote for the wrong candidate, whomever that may be. The exception to the rule is when the election is expected to be exceptionally close, such as Florida in 2000 or the Minnesota Senate race yesterday. Florida 2000 proves the exception to the rule. Ironically, if Nader voters had followed your advice Al Gore would have been president for the past 8 years. So you should state your preference more clearly that you believe a 3rd party vote to be wasted only if it takes votes away from your preferred candidate and then only in a tight election.

3) I have seen numerous comments equating a 3rd party or non-vote with moral culpability for the actions of the elected party if your non-preferred candidate wins. First, I don't subscribe to the argument of moral culpability for the actions of another UNLESS I specifically condone those actions. My vote or non-vote is not an endorsement of every evil a politician may do or approve.

4) Your argument is fallacious because we Americans do not actually vote directly for president. We vote for electors for president who in turn cast their ballots as they see fit and often under no legal obligation to vote for the winner of the popular vote in a state. Additionally, ALL electoral votes in 48 of the 50 states are awarded to the winner of the popular vote in that state. That means that if you reside in a blue state your vote is counted for Barack Obama regardless of what you checked on your ballot. Electoral votes are not divided up proportionally. Thus, if you live in a blue state and wish not to be morally culpable (presuming such a thing exists) your only option is to abstain from casting a vote for an elector altogether.

There are numerous other problems with your argument but they will have to wait for a better time.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Sorry, folks, I tried posting the night before the election, but for some odd reason Blogger didn't like me too much that day--I couldn't leave my comment, and I actually thought that I had entered a phishing website (because Dan's logo changed into colored block letters with paint splashes here and there instead of the quaint decor that I'm used to). Anyhow, 2/3 of the stuff I was gonna say is now irrelevent because (with apologies to the Bard) the "hurly burly's done, and the battle's lost..."--for now. But Candy and Dan brought up interesting points about my comment of the free John MacArthur sermon archive. The answer, Candy and Dan, is YES, I believe it was somewhat strategic on Pastor MacArthur's part to have the free archive starting Nov. 5th because he mentioned during his announcement something about just in case there's bad news on Nov. 4th. Now that's wise planning!

(And Dan, to answer your question about what state I'm in, I'm in the state that said "Yes" to Prop. 8. I'm closer than you to Phil's church--that's how I heard the announcement--I was actually there last Sunday morning!!)

Kenny Holloway said...

Your conclusions are completely absurd. Can't argue with a non-logical argument, so for now...have fun in that tin foil hat.