To JE, Bear, and others who may have bought into the sales pitch of our two "legitimate" parties and the media machine which supports them, I find your positions quite wrong. Candidates and parties don't become legitimate by citizens who agree with their message NOT voting for them. As a matter of fact, I believe it is irresponsible as a citizen to vote for something or someone that you do not believe in just because they're slightly more palatable than someone else. If you support your candidate because you truly believe in their positions (and believe they've stated them and aren't pandering for votes by flopping around) then so be it. That's the way it is supposed to be. If you're voting for someone because they are/are not Bush/black/white/GOP/Democrat/Jewish/Christian/articulate/non-smoker/drinker/tee-totaler/etc. then please stay home.
I find it quite disingenious to only vote for someone because the media finds them "legitimate." Do they get publicity because they're legitimate, or are they legitimate because they get publicity? You go on believing the chicken of legitimacy came first, I'll stick with the egg.
You misunderstand my position completely.
As a non political example. I have friends who have businesses that need strategic advice. While I might truly believe in them, if I look at their business and understand that it will not not grow or will not gain in the way they are projecting, I have to make the best decision for the advice I provide them. Do I advise them to put money in a project that they really like or do I make the best judgment that I can and recommend what I believe is best for their business. History has shown the second answer, while not popular is the best way to go.
In the political world, I truly believe we need more parties. I want the greatly as we need more choice, and more diverse debate than the two parties we have. I work to make that happen by financially supporting Independent and Libertarian candidates and parties at the grassroots levels. I have done so for 35 years.
Now, to voting on the National election [or a state election for that fact]. You suggest that it is irresponsible to vote for a candidate that you do not believe in. I infer from that that I should only vote for a candidate that I truly believe in. Let's look at my decision making now.
I want to do what is best for the COUNTRY [in my opinion]. I take that vote very seriously. I have missed just one primary or general election since I have been allowed to vote and it involved a trip out of country that extended.
My PRIME Criterion is "what is best for my Country [in my opinion]
", I have to look at the candidates and weigh all the positions and what the balance is. That decision has had me vote Democratic or Republican, depending on the totality of circumstance throughout the 40 voting years.
Using that criterion, and knowing the statistical probabilities of a third party candidate doing anything more than receiving 5% of the popular vote and 0% of the Electoral College I find it irresponsible to place a vote for that candidate. It serves NO purpose to my Country, it serves no purpose to that candidate and it serves no purpose toward gaining a "third Party" foothold [If 1992 is an indication]. Using that criterion I have to make a decision that will make my vote actually count. And, at this point in time that means, voting for one of the two primary party candidates. Only they have the infrastructures in place to pull in 55-60 million votes and only they have the infrastructure to build a coalition between the White House and Congress, necessary to get work done.
If there was a legitimate Independent or Libertarian candidate, with a legitimate organized party running, I would imagine I would be one of his/her most vocal supporters. But sadly that is just not the case and while I respect anyone who votes their conscience, I truly believe that voting third party in today's political arena is simply a spoiler tact, intentionally or not.