Voting Independent is NOT a Vote for the Democrats, By Zack Strong
One of the most infuriating and fallacious accusations I constantly hear from Republican pundits and so-called conservatives is that a vote for an independent or third party candidate is essentially a vote for the Democrats. There are several implications in this asinine allegation: first, that my independent vote was wasted; second, not only was my vote wasted, but, in fact, I helped the enemy get into office; third, that I must have been duped into throwing my vote into the wind or that I secretly harbor liberal views; and fourth, that there are no good, honorable, viable independent or third party candidates in the United States. I devote this article to tackling these four absurd assertions and make an appeal for reason and rationality to prevail over knee-jerk partisan emotionalism.
In not one election since I became eligible to vote have I vote Republican or Democrat. I have always voted independent or third party. With the exception of former Congressman Ron Paul, I have yet to find a single national candidate of either Republican or Democratic stripe with true Liberty-minded, constitutionalist values worthy of a freeman’s support. I am a constitutionalist through and through. I believe with all my heart that the Constitution was inspired by God Almighty and that the Founding Fathers were virtuous, enlightened, pious men who were raised up by Deity to do the great work of establishing the first free nation in modern times. However, even if I did not hold this belief, the Constitution requires certain things of us as citizens.
The Constitution requires, first and foremost, that the People’s representatives swear allegiance, by solemn oath, to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Thus, in any election, it is my duty – and yours – to elect only wise men who are wholly devoted to the Constitution, who understand the original meaning and intent of that great charter, and who have the spirit of Liberty burning in their bosom. To vote for a non-constitutionalist is to vote against the Constitution itself.
Unlike most people, I don’t rush to support a candidate. I take my time and watch, pray, and ponder. I contrast what any given candidate is saying to the principles of the Constitution. When a candidate’s proposed policies are not in harmony with the Constitution, I cross him off of my list and move on. It may sound overly idealistic, but I categorically refuse to vote for any man whose views are not in strict harmony with the Constitution, both the letter and the spirit. The reverse of that is that I would support any candidate, be he Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, independent, or what have you, if his views were strictly constitutional and if I felt he was an honest and moral man. It’s just that simple.
Considering the fact that a candidate, once in office, will swear an oath to defend the Constitution, I am completely justified in withholding my support if his views are not in rigid harmony with the oath he must take. To cast a vote for a man whose views – even if only on some seemingly minor issue – are not in harmony with the Constitution, and, thus, put him in violation of his solemn oath, is lunacy. It also shows a great dearth of understanding of the Constitution and a lack of integrity in upholding it.
Remember, “[T]he Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all” (George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796). To hold office and violate the Constitution is treason – to be a citizen and violate it is a shameful dereliction of duty.
To vote for the “lesser of two evils” just because the other guy is worse, is immoral, dishonest, and wrong. I believe we will account to God one day for how we voted in mortality because our votes reflect our attitude regarding human Liberty, free will, and accountability – all of which are religious principles an inseparable from authentic Christianity. No man or woman who spends their life supporting programs, principles, or people that degrade and destroy Freedom can possibly be worthy in the sight of God. And if the Constitution was established by God, as I testify that it was, to support candidates who lack fidelity to the sacred principles of that document is sinful.
I now squarely address the four erroneous implications in the allegation that a vote for an independent is a vote for the Democrats. The first implication is that my vote is wasted when I don’t vote for a so-called “viable” (i.e. Republican or Democratic) candidate. I reject this irrational notion, as all thinking people do. John Quincy Adams famously said: “Vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
Indeed, a vote for a principled, honest, good man with a clear understanding of the Constitution and the honor to stand by it, is never lost. Winning or losing an election is irrelevant when considering whether a vote is wasted or well spent. What matters is whether we take the correct moral stand and vote on principle – constitutionally compatible principles, to be precise. Contrary to what many believe, truth is unalterable. There is no such thing as situational ethics, subjective truth, or objective morality. And there are true governmental principles just as there are false one. Our goal, then, is to discover and defend eternal truth. One such truth is extolled in the Declaration of Independence; namely, that “all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In other words, our rights come from God, not from man, and therefore cannot lawfully be erased, restricted, or infringed upon. That is a truth which we must defend at all costs.
A vote, in essence, is a profession of belief. When you vote, you tell others what set of principles you support and believe in. You make it known whether you accept or reject eternal certainty. Thus, voting for a third party candidate who knows the Constitution and who is committed to its defense cannot possibly be wrong or detrimental because it is in conformity to true principles. After all, a representative’s foremost duty is not to cater to the whims of those who elected him, but to defend the Constitution – which he swears before God to do. And if I’m correct that in the next life we will give an accounting of our political choices made in mortality, it becomes even more important that we cast our votes only for good and honest men who are animated by the holy spirit with Liberty and who are sworn to uphold correct principles.
The second nearsighted accusation is that to vote independent is to actually vote Democrat. The logic is that casting a vote for a third party candidate splits the would-be Republican vote, thus causing the Democrats to sweep into office. This is ludicrous. No reasonable individual can believe this propaganda. Let’s simply look at the 2012 presidential election to prove my point. 66 million people voted for Barack Obama. 61 million voted for Mitt Romney. The difference in votes is five million. Now let’s look at how many people voted for independent or third party candidates. The answer: about two and a half million. Simple arithmetic tells you that even if all the independent and third party votes had been cast instead for Mitt Romney, Barack Obama still would have won the election by some three million votes (there was also massive voting fraud that I believe tipped the election, but that’s a matter for a different article). How, then, can people still say it is my fault, as an independent voter, that Obama was elected? How can people continue to spout this unsubstantiated myth? If anyone is to blame for the Democrats getting into office, it is the 56 million people who voted for them, not the million who supported constitutionalists and independents.
Sean Hannity and other such talking heads are fond of telling everyone that it’s the fault of independents that the Democrats win elections. They don’t want to admit, or perhaps are too blind to see, that Republicans are ultimately to blame for their defeat in elections. Why? Because of their complete lack of principles. They fail to present a legitimate alternative to the Democrats, thus there is no incentive to vote for them. I am bold to declare that there is not one dime’s worth of substantive difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. They are, in essence, one party – or establishment. All rhetoric aside, Republicans and Democrats espouse the same statist principles – which are unconstitutional.
What are the fruits of every Republican and Democratic presidents over the past century? Higher taxes, more debt, more war, more overseas interventionism, larger government, more tyranny, weaker economy, destruction of Liberty, limiting of states’ rights, less national sovereignty, persecution of patriotic dissent, more spying on citizens, wholesale destruction of the Bill of Rights, etc. Under Republicans, the government expands and centralizes power while destroying individual rights and selling out the nation to international organizations. Under Democrats, the government expands and centralizes power while destroying individual rights and selling out the nation to international organizations – only on a slightly larger scale than Republicans (though Republicans take the cake in terms of militarism and support of the domestic police state). There is no relevant difference between Republicans and Democrats. If you are so worried about throwing away your vote, why are you voting Republican or Democrat?
The third senseless charge leveled against independents is that they are Democratic dupes, or, worse still, that they are perhaps closet liberals or some sort of anarchists who refuse to vote for the noble Republicans, the so-called defenders of Freedom and human rights. I’m not sure why this bogus claim even needs to be addressed. Yet, people make this implication about independents all the time – particularly when one calls himself a libertarian. “Libertarian” is treated like a curse word by most Republicans. Libertarian-minded individuals like Ron Paul are more hated in Republican circles than are Democratic politicians. Indeed, it is bizarre that independents are so abused and maligned by Republicans and Democrats alike when one considers that the majority of voters now consider themselves independent or unaffiliated. In reality, the overwhelming majority of these vote Republican or Democrat, yet it is clear they no longer want to identify themselves as such – perhaps because they realize how out of touch with reality the establishment is.
The fourth and final accusation holds that there are no viable third party or independent candidates. Is this even logical? Do you mean to tell me that there are no more than two individuals in a country of 320 million people that are viable for the presidency in any given election year? And no more than several hundred who are feasible for congressional seats? This charge is an insult to the American People! It is an insult to our intelligence. It is an elitist view. It is despicable. The political class would have you believe that there are but two natural classes in society – the rulers and the ruled (and guess which one you’re a part of). Or, the sheep and wolves of Thomas Jefferson’s famous analogy.
No, I believe that there are many thousands of honorable men in this nation who could do the job required by the oath of office; namely, to uphold and defend the Constitution. There are in fact many strict constitutionalists like Chuck Baldwin who ran for president for the Constitution Party in 2008, or Will Christensen who ran for the Independent American Party in 2012. These constitutionalists are kept out of the fray for at least two main reasons: 1) the elitist Republicans and Democrats join together to knock down any third party or independent candidate, and 2) the public has been duped into believing that independents are not viable and that to vote for them would be a waste at best or, at worst, a vote for the other party.
I can attest from personal experience that the Republican and Democratic machinery works in tandem to hold independents down and stifle their voice. In 2014, I ran for the United States House of Representatives out of Utah’s third congressional district. Under the law, all candidates on the ballot must be allowed to participate in public debates hosted by taxpayer money. Even though I was officially on the state ballot under the Independent American Party’s banner, having met every legal requirement to be eligible to run for office, I was barred from participating in the debates. I received a letter in the mail from the government of Utah – which is controlled by Republicans, lest you forget – telling me that I was not welcome at the debates. This was in direct violation of the law.
It’s not as if Utahans don’t want an alternative to the Republican-Democratic vice that holds them in place. One story is illustrative. At a “meet the candidates” event in Heber City, after taking my usual hard stand against the corrupt and tyrannical establishment and unabashedly supporting the Constitution – even quoting from my pocket copy at one point – and maintaining traditional values, I received the loudest applause, and one Republican candidate even told me in private, “I’m going to vote for you.” I believe I would have gained much wider support owing to my uncompromising values, true principles, and straight talk had I been allowed, per the law, to participate in the debates alongside career compromisers and deceivers such as Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, who ultimately won the election. Even though Utah effectively silenced my voice, along with the voices of other independents who later contemplated a lawsuit over the gross injustice, and considering that I was virtually unknown and not allowed to participate in public debates, I received a fair number of votes and polled third behind the Republican and Democratic candidates. If the Republican-Democrat establishment gets its way, all independent and third party candidates will come in behind them in perpetuity.
One final word on this point is in order. What makes a candidate “viable”? Here’s the answer: having people vote for him. If 66+ million people had decided to vote for Chuck Baldwin in 2008, he would have been president – all the vote rigging notwithstanding. If the American People actually think an independent is worthy of high office, they must only vote for him to make him “viable.” There is no rule requiring you to vote Republican or Democrat. And even in states that force you to pick a party in order to participate in primary elections, you still have your unlimited free will when you go into that voter’s booth and mark down your vote on a secret ballot (though electronic voting is gradually destroying this safeguard). There is no excuse for not voting for a true constitutionalist. Only the ignorant, the hopelessly partisan, and the apathetic will continue to remain locked in the fraudulent two-party system.
I will now share my personal view that not one single candidate currently vying for the Republican and Democratic nominations for president are worthy constitutionalists. Certainly the admitted and avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, and the admitted progressive (i.e. socialist) Hillary Clinton don’t make the cut. But neither do the Republican candidates. No, not one of them.
Senator Ted Cruz, who may or may not actually be eligible to run for president, is the closest thing to a true constitutionalist in the race. And yet, Cruz has many failings. His views do not conform strictly to the Constitution. Simply look at his voting record. Examine The New American’s “Freedom Index” which tells you whether or not candidates vote in accord with the Constitution and you’ll find that Cruz only does so 89% of the time. That might seem reasonable to some, but anything less than 100% doesn’t cut it for me. That’s how serious I am about defending the Constitution. In addition, Cruz is very pro-war and has bought into the phony War on Terror. In fact, all the Republican candidates are pro-war and think that our immoral wars in the Middle East are justified. Finally, Cruz has many connections to the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bushes, and other nefarious groups that call him into question. Though I do not believe Cruz is himself a duplicitous or scheming man, I don’t trust those he has surrounded himself with in advisory positions. I will never vote for him based on this fact and the fact that he is not a strict constitutionalist.
Donald Trump has become a favorite of many so-called conservatives and libertarians. I won’t be voting for Trump either. Here are several reasons why: he is pro-war; he advocates torture; he is a sycophant for Vladimir Putin and communist Russia; he favors eminent domain, which I regard as highly immoral and unjust; he regularly swears in public (not the trait of a moral leader and something George Washington condemned as unworthy of his soldiers, let alone national leaders); his past support for certain Democratic politicians (for instance, Hillary Clinton) is troubling; his repeated sentiment earlier in life that if he ever ran for president, he would make a better Democrat should make you think; his 2004 admission that “I probably identify more as Democrat,” should give all of his so-called conservative supporters pause; his belief that the economy flourishes better under Democrat supervision is also bewildering; etc.
I don’t believe Trump is “learning” and “evolving” and coming over to our side, as some folks in the Liberty movement claim. At best, he is genuine but misguided. However, I think Trump knows that people are angry and is telling them what they want to hear. He knows that there is an anti-establishment backlash and he has set himself up as the anti-establishment candidate. I see him as duplicitous in that he deliberately appeals to emotions rather than logic in order to gain support. He is expert at creating hype and playing on passions. This is a dangerous skill for a leader to possess, as history well proves. To his credit, I don’t think he is controlled as most candidates are (he seems too self-absorbed for that). But his policies and views and behavior are not in harmony with the Constitution nor with my vision of a moral leader. We’re not going to “make America great again” with his policies. Please don’t vote for this Democrat in Republican clothing.
Lastly, I will mention Senator Marco Rubio. In all honesty, I believe this man is a total charlatan and fraud. I get a visceral reaction of disgust each time I hear or see him. I don’t trust him in the slightest. His personal character is less than honorable. He’s a liar. His voting record is atrocious. He’s in lockstep with, and I believe likely controlled by, the establishment. No real Liberty-lover can vote for him if they understand his personality, his viewpoints, and his record. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be a dupe for the establishment.
One thing that would help America immensely is for everyone to stop treating elections as if they are sporting events where you’ve got to support your team no matter what. This is not a game – this is the survival of our country we’re determining. You can’t simply pick your red team (Republicans) or your blue team (Democrats) and root and holler and cheer mindlessly for victory at all costs and against all opponents wearing a different jersey. To say, “I’m going to vote Republican no matter who our candidate is because I hate the opposition or think they’d be worse,” is immoral. And let’s face it, most people do just that. They don’t vote for a candidate they like – they vote against a candidate they dislike. How can you do that and have a clear conscience? These folks might delude themselves into thinking that they’ve actually researched the matter and have considered alternative or independent candidates, but when election day rolls around, they vote for whomever has an “R” or a “D” next to their name, depending which team they’ve sided with. In most cases, I doubt the average voter could tell you who is running on third party tickets or as independents.
Just as a lifelong Denver Broncos’ fan loyally supports his team – no matter the change in personnel or policy – and roots against all other teams his Broncos face, a lifelong Republican supports his party – no matter who they nominate and no matter how their principles change – against all opposition. And when someone decides to support a different team, the Republican (or Democrat) will attack him as a perceived threat. After all, if you’re not with me, you’re against me. That’s the “us vs. them” mindset that average Republicans and Democrats possess that is so fatal. I dare say that your average Republican attacks independents more vehemently than they do Democrats. To their minds, Democrats are expected to be different, but as an independent you are a traitor who has thrown your vote away, thus helping the opposition. Rank and file Republicans consider independents a Democratic fifth column – enemy commandos behind their lines who are sabotaging their war effort. And the Republican-Democratic establishment considers everyone who bucks their control their mortal enemies.
Elections should be solemn events. However, where objectivity and reason should rule, partisan emotionalism and herd mentality dominate. It’s basically a form of modern tribalism. Just as the ancient Japanese empire broke up into warring fiefdoms where one’s allegiance ran to his clan, family, and local warlord, so, too, is America breaking into warring tribes (reds and blues) because we cannot break out of our herd mentality and support true principles which can bind the nation together.
The Constitution is the standard by which people of all stripes should evaluate candidates. Constitutional principles are something we ought to be able to rally around and unite behind. We ought to have a desire to have the best men in leadership positions, not just “our” man. Our national wounds could be healed if we would cast the Republicans and Democrats to the side and hold instead to universal principles and eternal truths. A moral and religious people which clings jealously to true constitutional principles is unstoppable. I long to live in such a nation!
After winning the tumultuous election of 1800, which some call America’s Second Revolution, newly elected President Thomas Jefferson spoke to a nation divided between Federalists and Republicans. Said he: “Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse and that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. . . . We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. . . . Let us, then, with courage and confidence, pursue our own federal and republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government.”
What were the republican principles Jefferson spoke of? He summed them up thusly: “A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.”
Jefferson further expanded his thoughts and advocated the following: “Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the state governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies; the preservation of the general government in its whole Constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people – a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority – the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well-disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burdened; the honest payment of our debts, and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus and trial by juries impartially selected.”
Finally, that noble statesman added: “These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civil instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”
I will close my article with those wise words from the Sage of Monticello fresh in your mind. I, too, testify that if we are to heal our broken and divided nation, and get back on the road to peace, Liberty, and safety, we must reclaim and defend the principles set forth in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and by our forefathers. Our forebears spilt their blood and gave their lives to establish a free nation where all the God-given rights of freemen were protected by law and where we had the right to choose or dismiss our representatives at our pleasure. We can make a first step in restoring America by rejecting the erroneous allegation that to vote for an independent or third party candidate is a political heresy. In fact, to do so is the essence of being an American. We must reject the notion that a third party vote is a wasted vote, or that it mysteriously helps the Democrats get into office. We must reject this volatile “us vs. them” tribal mentality when it comes to political parties. This can be remedied by supporting true principles – constitutional principles – and by meticulously comparing the views of each candidate against the Constitution which they are required to swear an oath to defend if elected.
Please, do not be goaded into voting Republican or Democrat because you are told there are no other “viable” options in this expansive nation of ours. Do not settle for the lesser of two evils. Do not settle for a false “conservative” who talks the talk but is in reality part of the establishment or in the running for himself alone. Do not vote for the “R” on your red jersey simply because you don’t like the look of the “D” on the other team’s blue jersey. And whatever you do, do not criticize me for donning a different jersey altogether and voting for a man whose views are harmonious with the sacred Constitution of the United States. Vote for principle, and your vote is never wasted – especially if you vote for an honorable and good man and true constitutionalist.