When I was an idealist, I used to vote Libertarian. (Uh-oh, now I’ve confessed; I’m the spawn of Satan, — one of those evil libertarians who want to take the pork right out of the mouths of the poor and the wealthy and everybody in between.) I’m not a radical Libertarian. I believe it’s necessary to pay some taxes to support the truly legitimate functions of government (like protection of the people), and I believe it’s necessary to go to war when our country is attacked by an enemy. But, on just about everything else, I’m a straight up Libertarian, no chaser.
The trouble is, voting Libertarian is like mailing your ballot to Santa Claus. It makes you feel good, but has exactly the same impact as not voting at all. — Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to support a party you think is wrong (but not as wrong as the other one) in the vain hope that you can effect a change, while helping the machine grind on, or to take arms against a sea of politics and, by opposing, render your vote irrelevant? (Apologies to Wm. Shakespeare.)
Of course, unless you live in a swing state, your presidential vote is irrelevant anyway. If you live in a blue state, your vote turns blue as soon as it hits the ballot box. If you live in a red state, your vote will be counted as red regardless of what you put on your ballot. Only if you live in a swing state does your vote mean anything at all. (As Ella Fitzgerald once said, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”) And, even then, it only counts if you vote Democrat or Republican.
I’m not entirely cynical. — About the presidential elections, perhaps. — But I’m still idealistic enough to believe it’s possible to make a difference at the local level. Your vote alone may not have much impact, but you can maximize your impact by influencing others, especially if they influence others in turn. So why do people get so excited about the presidential race? It’s like reality TV. You can’t affect the outcome; it’s just cheap entertainment. If you want to have an impact, focus on local elections. The more local the race, the more impact you can have.