Color outside the lines: Don’t feel restricted to red or blue this election

By Bella Whitmore | Intern

We’ve all heard phrases like “do your civic duty” or “it is your moral obligation to vote” on repeat around election seasons. And every year, for the most part, the election comes down to two controversial, outrageous candidates who make a lot of people feel like they are choosing the lesser of two evils. While voting independently is not the most fruitful decision in terms of making a political difference, it is definitely the way to go if you are tired of compromising your beliefs and values by voting for either the Republican or Democratic candidate.

There always seems to be the narrative that if you choose not to vote or if you vote for independent parties, you don’t care about the welfare of the nation and are wasting your vote. While it is undoubtedly the case that voting independently will not result in that candidate being elected into office, it should not be considered a “throw-away vote” like many people across the nation consider it.

For the past two presidential elections — and seemingly for the one coming up this year — the candidates who end up getting the major party nominations are usually the ones who stir up the most publicity with the general public, while other equally qualified candidates are dismissed and snubbed from consideration. These candidates usually end up dropping out or running independently, as it is clear they have no chance compared to their counterparts, who are making headlines for outrageous behavior.

Here’s my take: The presidential election should not be a popularity contest.

I mean, we have had presidents and presidential candidates who have been accused of sexual assault, ones who have been investigated by the FBI and others who clearly have declining cognitive health. Surely these candidates are not the best our country can offer.

I see so many promising and objectively good candidates on both sides of the political spectrum who are willing to compromise and respect other opinions while being strong in their beliefs about the nation. Yet their fate is so clear, even from the beginning, that someone more flashy and shocking will get the nomination instead.

This is a vicious cycle that is not going to break unless people realize that choosing between the lesser of two evils is simply not good enough. We should want better for our country and realize that our vote holds power, even if it doesn’t go to one of the main two candidates.

So do your research, find someone who aligns well with your beliefs and stand by them on the ballot, even if it’s likely they won’t win. Your conscience can be clearer knowing you voted for someone you truly believed in and are not just settling for someone who sort of represents what you believe. Plus, the more votes they get, the more recognition they will receive.

Ultimately, an independent vote represents a thought-out vote and is a vote well spent.