Election 2016 Thoughts – Part One: A vote for a 3rd Candidate is not a Wasted Vote or a Vote for Clinton


I graduated from Murray State University with a degree in Political Science. I used to be obsessed and easily rattled by the political results. In almost all of those past ballots, I thought there was a clear candidate who should be elected for the good of the American people. Then along comes this election! In light of what I view as the uniqueness of this election I would like to share some of my thoughts, especially as it concerns Donald Trump, Evangelicals, and the Never Trump crowd:


Two Disclaimers for this series:

  • I am sharing my views with conviction but that does not mean I think you are crazy or do not have a valid argument if you disagree – There has been a lot of strong rhetoric in many directions around this election that has been ugly (some of which I will write about below). I strongly stand in the camp that a 3rd option is best for the reasons I will lay out. But that does not mean I don’t understand the position of those who believe Trump is a horrible candidate but they will hold their nose and vote for him because at least he says he will be strong on abortion and appoint conservative justices (which is a much different argument than some evangelicals are making that he is a good candidate). I have been grieved at the lack of charity and rhetoric I have observed (and of which I have been guilty myself). I pray that this will be a helpful series and that even if we disagree we can do so agreeably.
  • Jesus Christ will still be on the Throne after Election Day – I think voting is very important but I am also amazed at how many Christians view each election through the eyes of Chicken Little (You know, “the sky is falling!” cartoon character). I do believe this election is important and will have ramifications for years to come, but it will not thwart Christ’s kingdom. We, above all people, should not fret at what happens on Election Day because we know “He’s got the whole World in His hands!”


Voting for a 3rd party candidate is not a wasted vote or a vote for Clinton

I’ve seen people argue that you have 3 choices: 1) Clinton 2) Trump 3) wasted vote. But this argument assumes that anytime you vote for a losing candidate you are wasting your vote. I don’t think that is true (more on that below), and I think this logic negatively contributes to the mess we are in. In fact, I think in this presidential election a vote for a 3rd party candidate is the best option for several reasons:


  1. A 3rd option is not a wasted vote – For one, a vote that doesn’t violate your conscience is never a wasted vote (At our Baptist21 Panel in St. Louis, Dr. Mohler and Dr. Moore both indicated they’d be voting for a 3rd option for these reasons). Sadly, I have even seen some claim that other Christians who will not vote for Trump because of conscience are being self-righteous and foolish. I never thought I would see Christians arguing for other Christians to violate their conscience, but this election has been eye opening in many respects. In this election, as in all of life, there are always heavenly realities at play that are more important than the actual election result. Therefore, I believe voting according with your conscience and Christian values is what is right. And we leave the results in God’s hands.
  2. A strong showing from a 3rd option might just be what is needed for an overturn of the whole system that has brought us to the point where our two main options are Trump and Clinton – A strong showing from a 3rd option might just lead to the overhaul we need. I believe our two parties take for granted many people’s votes and we as voters allow them to continue to do so. Therefore a strong third party showing could turn the negatives of our current system on its head.  We have seen this happen in American political history–as was the case with President Lincoln and the Republicans busting up the “binary options” of the Whigs and Democrats. I am not saying this will happen in this election, but I am saying if we did not always see the election as only a binary election it might be the best for our country in the long haul.
  3. There is a remote possibility of a path to victory for a 3rd option (perhaps an Evan McMullin)  no matter what the Trump and Clinton campaigns tell you – I want to stress that a third party victory in our binary system is very unlikely. But though very unlikely, it is possible. If a candidate can win at least one state (and with some backing, Evan might be able to win a state like Utah), and neither Trump nor Clinton get to the needed amount of electoral votes, then the election moves to the House of Representatives who elect our next president. And thus a third party candidate, potentially McMullin, would have an outside shot (this happened in 1824 and could happen again). Again, this underscores the truth that a  vote for a 3rd option is not a wasted vote, even if it is a vote that is unlikely to be cast for the winner!
  4. The amount of votes a candidate gets is often used as an indicator of how much public support they have to carry out their policies – So, a poor showing by Clinton or Trump would indicate they don’t have most of the American Public’s confidence and could undermine how much power they would have as they lead. A poor showing even in victory could be the needed checks and balance on the new President and could also galvanize Congress.
  5. A vote for a 3rd option would also tell the world we are not in anyone’s political pocket – A vote for a 3rd option would indicate that we as Christians can speak prophetically to all parties and that no party should think they are guaranteed the Christian vote.


One final note on this: I have seen some contend that there are those in the Never Trump crowd who are advocating sitting out the Election. I have not heard anyone in this camp actually argue for this position. However, I think that even if some might abstain from voting for President, they will go to the ballot box to vote for the other races. Because with every political cycle those other elections on the ballot, especially for local offices, are just as important.