Maybe You’re Asking the Wrong Question

In my work in computer programming, I’m often presented with problems that need to be solved.  I have learned over the years that those problems are often very difficult and need to be approached from the correct angle before you can find a viable solution.

I usually jump into those problems asking “Why is it doing this?”  However, very often, that is the wrong question to ask.  Instead, I need to ask “Why isn’t it doing what I want?”

In other words, I need to look at the problem from a different angle.

Now, I have said many time that I don’t want this to be a political blog…and I don’t, but sometimes a post of a political nature is what is needed.  I’ve been reading a lot from people about third-party candidates.  There is a displeasure by those who are considering voting for a third-party when told they are “throwing their vote away.”

I’ve seen articles on it.  For instance:

And, here is where the problem solving comes in…maybe you’re asking the wrong question.

Instead of asking “am I throwing my vote away?”, you should be asking “can I live with my decision under every condition?”

The second is the kind of question I live to answer.  I live to answer them because I get to do something that I love doing.  That is, take an argument to a ridiculous extreme.  If you take an argument to the most ridiculous extreme you can and it still holds up, then it’s a good argument.  So, here is my ridiculous extreme.  It also happens to be the question and argument I used against myself when considering a third-party candidate, so please don’t think I haven’t run my own logic on myself.  (BTW, I always run my own logic on myself)

When considering voting for a third-party candidate, you mostly likely have a ranking of candidates (I will try to keep this non-partisan).  They probably go something like this:

  1.  The third-party candidate I’m thinking of voting for.  I agree with them on pretty much the full range of politics and platform.  I think they would be very good for this country and that they probably hung the moon.  They love moms, America, and apple pie.  Their kids are little darlings that I want to adopt.  Etc, etc, etc (you get the point)
  2. A first-party candidate that I don’t hate as much as candidate number 3.  I can agree with them on most politics at least as far as what they are saying right now.  I could probably even support them if they become president as long as they aren’t too far off the rails.
  3. A first-party candidate that is the worst.  They will usher in a whole new age of racism, sexism, ageism, Satanism, veganism, and any other ‘ism’ they hear about (or you can think of).  If they were the only candidate and I would be beheaded if I didn’t vote for them, then I would let them call the axeman.

Now, I realize that there may be other third-party candidates that you may vote for in-between numbers 1 and 2.  Go ahead insert them…I’ll wait.  The logic still works no matter how many you put in there.

Now, there is one more thing to consider.  And it’s unpopular to say this, but I live in reality and I hope you do too.  The thing to consider is this: You cannot control other people’s thoughts, but you can change your’s to take into account their inevitable actions.

What do I mean by this?  Well, here is the unpopular thing.  A third-party candidate will not win this election.  I know that there are some of you who will quit reading right now because I just made that vein stick out in your forehead.  That’s fine.  Getting angry is an illogical response.  I’ll stick with those who will be reasoned enough to finish reading.

I’m sorry, but a third-party candidate will not win.  Why?  Because you can not control other people’s thoughts.  Let’s face it.  Even though we want to hold out hope for the underdog, we know that is isn’t going to work.  I wanted Ben Carson.  I thought he great (see number 1 above).  But, it didn’t happen.  Them’s the breaks.  It will not do me any good to write in his name.  He WILL NOT win.

“But, if everyone would write him in, then he could.”  That is true, but reality once again sets in.  EVERYONE IS NOT GOING TO WRITE HIM IN!  Because, some where around 90 – 95% of the voting population doesn’t want a third-party or write-in candidate.  A third-party candidate getting 3% of the vote is not enough.  10% is not enough.  20% is not enough.  The two-party system is still here because the vast majority of the American people like it that way.  Trying to change their minds is spitting into the wind.  You cannot change their minds, but you can change your’s based on their actions.

So, we have our candidate line-up and we have our knowledge that a third-party candidate will not win.  Great…what now?

Now, we take it to the ridiculous extreme and ask our question.  Here is the question:

If I vote for my first choice and my last choice becomes president by just one vote over my second choice, will my conscience allow me to be alright with that?

My personal answer to that was “No.  I would not be alright with that.  I would feel awful.”  So, knowing that I can only change me, I do what I must to appease my conscience…I vote for my second choice.

“But, Brian (you silly goose), the third candidate will never beat the second candidate by just one vote because <insert whatever excuse you want here>.”

Probably not, but at what number of votes does my conscience become appeased?  Is it 2?  Or 10?  Or 50?  Or 100?  Or 1000?  Does it make you feel better to say “Well, at least I’m only 1 of 1000 people who made it possible for the satanist loving person to become president.”?

It sure doesn’t make me feel better.  It would make me feel like I haven’t done all I could do to make sure the satanist loving person doesn’t make it in.  And I would know that forever.

“But, Brian (you precious little feeb), I did all I could do.  I didn’t vote for the satanist loving person.”

No, you didn’t do all you could do.  It’s true that you didn’t vote for them, but you also didn’t vote for the person most likely to defeat the satanist loving person.  And that doesn’t make it any better for me either.  I didn’t vote for them sure, but I didn’t vote against them either.  I voted for someone with no chance to win.  None.

To me, I would know that I hadn’t “thrown my vote away,” but I had grossly misused it to help someone I never intended or wanted as president.

You are welcome, of course, to disagree with me.  Perhaps your conscience isn’t as tender as mine and you are able to vote and never look back.

I can’t.