Moderates aren’t as easy to categorize, but it’s probably safe to say that they tend to lean Democratic under normal circumstances, but are honest and realistic enough to see that Obama is a failure as president. Finding neither option acceptable – instead of choosing between the lesser of two evils – some moderates and libertarians are choosing a third option: Gary Johnson.
I have nothing against Gary Johnson, but I can’t help but think a vote for Johnson is a wasted vote (at best) or a vote for Obama (at worst). While it probably won’t work, I feel obligated to make the best argument I can for choosing Mitt Romney over Gary Johnson. So if you are one of these libertarians/moderates considering a vote for Johnson, I’m talking to you.
Believe me, I understand wanting to vote on principle. You look at the available options and don’t want to vote for a candidate who doesn’t agree with your principles, whether it’s personal freedom, economic freedom, or foreign policy isolationism. Neither candidate meets your principled standards, so you feel you must vote for someone who comes close. Perfectly understandable.
Principles are important, but as I’ve written in The Three Tensions of Politics, they aren’t the only thing. You must balance your principles – your ideology – with the political ramifications of your vote and an element of pragmatism. Consider the real-world effects of your vote for a third-party candidate who simply cannot win.
Everyone agrees that this will be an extremely close election. You won’t vote Obama and I support you for seeing what many Democrats are unable to see. But refusing to vote for Romney and choosing a candidate who can’t win, like Gary Johnson, is short-sighted. The most likely outcome of your vote for Gary Johnson is to reelect Barack Obama.
In other words, with a vote for Gary Johnson, you will not get the result you hope for. You know that reelecting Obama is a bad idea, and Romney is the only pragmatic alternative. We live in a two party system and your vote will not change that. Whatever principle you think you’re upholding by casting a protest vote against the two major parties is undermined by the ultimate consequences of your vote. I implore you to balance your principles with a little pragmatism and go vote for Mitt Romney in November.