Why I am not wasting my vote.

I will be repeating thousands of other people by reiterating that this election cycle is–pardon my French– stinky poopy.
Both parties have given us deplorables to vote for, for various and non-overlapping reasons. Because I don’t feel either one of them deserves my respect let alone my ballot, I will be voting 3rd party.
And then it comes…
The outcry from both sides, chastising me. Accusing me of wasting my democratic responsibility. Of throwing my vote in the trash. Of voting someone terrible in through my vote of the other. (I’m sorry, but a vote for Trump is not a vote for Hillary, or visa versa. Voting 3rd party doesn’t magically make a vote count for both of them at the same time. Election math doesn’t work that way.)
Here’s my take, though.
I’m not throwing away my vote. I’m investing it.
In fact, I might just value my vote higher than you think.
The people who try to get me to vote for their candidate-they-don’t-really-believe-in do so because they believe that their vote a month from now will impact the next four years.
Frankly, I’m not just concerned about the next four years…
I’m worried about the next ten. Twenty. Thirty.
I’m worried about how atrocious our future election cycles will look and what our options will be if we decide to be satisfied with bad people running for president, thereby dulling our consciences by voting the lesser of two evils enough that we are okay with evil chronically inhabiting the Oval.
My point it this: if all the citizens lamenting their options voted third party, something amazing would happen. The person you vote for might not win (truthfully, probably won’t win)… but it could shake the system enough to do two very important things:
1) tell the system that their “best” is not good enough for the American people. The two major parties can’t just have our loyalty because they exist. They get our trust because they actually have to earn it. Imagine that.
2) it encourages better options. With more social issues and variables of beliefs in the role of government than ever before, the black and white of the two party system will have to make way for an emerging “gray.” There are men and women out there that have amazing ideas for our nation and times, but don’t fit a typical democrat/republican mold. By voting our conscience and 3rd party now, we send a message to emerging, non-traditional leaders: there is room for you on this political platform. There is an audience for your message, and we want and even need to hear it. 
My vote matters, and if I can use it to help a Phoenix rise from the Ashes of this political season to reintroduce ethics and character in future election cycles…
I will consider it a vote very well spent.

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