Skip to main content

Libertarians and the Wasted Vote Fallacy

Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.


Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer

Every election cycle we all get lectured by everyone from the sincere voices of traditional Constitutionalists to the shady Deep State manipulators that if we don’t exercise our so-called patriotic duty to vote that was won for us by the blood of American heroes we are wasting our vote.

Naïve devotees of democracy say it because they believe it; the political-corporatist oligarchs of the Republican-Democrat Establishment say it because it gives them good cover for their political conniving.

If you don’t vote you’re wasting your vote. If you vote for a third party like the Libertarian Party you’re just throwing your vote away. But it’s your vote isn’t it? To do with as you think best. Consciously refusing to cast it for anyone might mean you’re voting for NOTA, None Of The Above. You can vote for your Aunt Mildred by writing in her name if you want. Not voting isn’t wasting your vote, it’s expressing your opinion about the lack of anyone worthy of your vote.

In his Kindle book Throw Away Your Vote! author Robert Morris explains how the so-called two-party system is really a one party system in several major ways.

  • Both parties are owned and controlled by our powerful financial system.
  • Both Parties support the never-ending War on Drugs and the prison system it creates that “incarcerates more people than Communist China.”
  • Both Parties support the never-ending War on Terror because every elite establishment figure “has been bought and paid for by corporations supplying military material.”

Beyond that the only differences are, he says, “mostly just marketing” on an array of culture war issues like guns, gay marriage and abortion among many others.


While Throw Away Your Vote! was originally targeted at 2016 Presidential election voters its message is still absolutely relevant today because nothing has changed. The title is ironic because it urges everyone to not throw their votes away on the sanctified power system that pretends to be two opposed political parties but are actually controlled by the same elitist gang of thugs.

Every time you hold your nose and vote for the same Lesser of Two Evils Party you’ve always voted for you’ll just always keep getting what you’ve always gotten—more of your power, wealth and freedom ripped from your life. Voting for that other Lesser Of Two Evils this time around means you’re just supporting a different thug in the same rigged con game.

Voting For a Cause

Every libertarian should vote for the Libertarian Party candidates. Everyone with even an inkling of desire for maximizing freedom and minimizing government should vote Libertarian. Yes there will be a multitude of dissenters even within libertarian ranks for a multitude of reasons. So let’s take some of these dissentions one at a time.

1. Non-Party anti-government libertarians, especially ancaps and other anarchist libertarians, will scoff that the very act of voting legitimizes the criminal system that is government. But it doesn’t because THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN. Boycotting elections accomplishes nothing, but casting an anti-government libertarian protest vote and seeing the libertarian numbers slowly climb year by year sends an in-your-face message to your enemies. You’ve been intimidated, defrauded and coerced into paying for the apparatus of government so what could be more appropriate and justifiable than using their own machinery of evil against them?

2. Timid traditionalist Libertarians still clinging to their old left-right political views will complain that if you vote LP THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN so you’ll just be throwing the win from the Republican to the Democrat candidate or the Democrat to the Republican candidate. But that’s patently absurd. Beyond some tiny village school board election no one wins anything by one vote. The response will likely be “What if everyone did that?” and the Libertarian response should be “But everyone doesn’t do that and never will.”

Scroll to Continue

3. Because of the Electoral College if you live in a deep red or deep blue state your Libertarian vote cannot possibly affect the outcome of a presidential vote and therefore THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN. The outcome has already been predetermined for your voting district. Voting red in a blue state or blue in a red state would truly be a waste of your vote. So vote your conscience, vote Libertarian, and enjoy yourself.

4. But you’re a deeply committed voluntaryist, individualist, post-statist, anarchist type of libertarian and don’t give a damn that THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN because you despise the whole crooked system. Okay. So how do you think you’re going to get from this ugly real world to that ideal future world you believe in; through one big magical jump from here to there? Do you not see that every little push in the direction of more freedom and less government is in your own best interests? Or do you just love wallowing in your idealism with no interest in achieving its reality?

5. The fact that THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN is really irrelevant at this point because it’s the campaigning, not the winning, that counts. Whether primarily or secondarily, whether some candidates insist that they are in it to win it or not, their campaigns actually act as educational outreach platforms. People hear the word “Libertarian” for the first time, hear a few rumors or anecdotes about what it means, stimulates their curiosity—More freedom? Less government?—and some will join in and add their efforts to the cause.

Five More Reasons to Vote for the Cause

6. THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN isn’t true on the local level. That’s where actual winning is possible. That’s where person-to-person engagement takes place, where ideas and ideals are debated and maybe a few converts are won. That’s where the effort to actually win an elective seat can take place without sacrificing the important educational outreach purpose of running for public office. And that’s where your vote counts bigger than in national races because in the smaller races it takes smaller numbers of votes to win and smaller numbers of votes to raise eyebrows.

7. So what happens if it’s untrue that THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN and some actually do? A few already have won elected office here and there around the country. Then that person will become a bigger focus of the libertarian educational movement. And if that person stays true to libertarian principles, always voting NO on increasing taxes and regulations and illegitimate victimless crime laws while consistently voting YES on issues that promote more freedom and less government that person will attract even more attention. Maybe he or she will never be on the winning side of a town council or county seat vote but the message of principles and ethics and values will stand out as unique in the world of crony corrupt politicking.


8. Then of course there’s the downside. THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN even when they do win if any Libertarian officeholder betrays fundamental libertarian principles and compromises promises for power or money or ego considerations. But that becomes an opportunity for you! Shine the spotlight on the betrayer. Openly call out, challenge, shame, discredit and reject the defector. That puts you in the educational spotlight. Unlike Republicans and Democrats, Libertarians must always hold their members accountable and disown them, eject them from the party if necessary. That would be some educational moment for the public!

9. If THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN any major political offices but continue to grow big enough to exert more and more pressure on the establishment parties and their cronies, forcing them to get their ship together, then much can be gained from that alone. As Robert Morris noted in Throw Away Your Vote! Republicans and Democrats today are very different than they were at their founding. According to Morris the Republicans were “The Party of Lincoln” that used to be “the party of racial justice, and the natural home of African American voters.” The Democrats were the “Party of Jefferson” and used to be “the party of the agricultural interests and the vocal opponent of a powerful central government.” Sounds utterly backwards from today’s hardcore authoritarian traditionalist Republicans and ultra-leftist liberal-socialist-Marxist Democrats. Third parties and independents have caused major changes to both parties throughout their history so why can’t today’s libertarian thinkers and Libertarian Partiers push one or both of them steadily toward an ever more libertarian direction? And maybe, eventually, even take over one or both of them. The various hardcore American Socialist and Communist third parties did just that and look what they won: the Democratic Party! So, if LP candidates never win office but do win more freedom and less government or even pushes all the way to that future voluntarist individualist post-statist free society who cares? Winning the vote isn’t the point; winning the cause is the point.

10. Thus in the short term, with a few exceptions, THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN which is why it’s critical to take the long view. The philosophy must be firmly established in society before any political action can be effective. So here’s the long-term strategy. Think of your one little vote as tinder for starting a bonfire. Adding your tinder to other’s will ignite a twig, and enough twigs will ignite a branch, and branches will ignite a limb, and enough limbs will ignite a log and logs will create a roaring bonfire that will burn like a beacon, drawing ever more people to everyone’s varying ideas of libertarianism. Even those anti-participating anti-voting anti-government anarcho libertarians will benefit with new recruits introduced to their way of thinking.


So let’s get real. Voting third party is not wasting your vote; you’re voting for a cause, for a movement, for freedom from a criminal organization called Government.

Your vote is your vote, not somebody else’s. Only you can decide what your vote means and whether it’s wasted. Like it or not, agree with it or not, your vote is a symbol of your moral principles, a direct message from your character, a vivid spotlight on your values. If you reject the whole premise of this article that’s okay; others will understand it and run with it. Libertarians, after all, don’t dictate to or force others to do what they don’t voluntarily choose to do.

So cast your vote to the Libertarian winds. It’s safe to do so because, as mentioned once or twice, THE LIBERTARIANS WILL NOT WIN. Until they do that is, one way or another.

Vote On Principle, Not On Practicality Bill Maher is quoted as saying, “It’s silly that a country that prides itself on choice allows only two choices for president.” Yet time after time people walk in virtual lockstep to the polls and vote for the Silly of their choice.

Your Vote Isn’t Wasted On the LP Voting for the status quo parties is a waste because the vast majority of votes simply cancel each other out. Only a tiny percentage makes a difference. But voting for your own Freedom will eventually make a giant difference.

Voting LP Doesn’t Help Dems or GOP When you vote third party it doesn’t take a vote from Trump and give it to Biden or from Biden and give it to Trump. It’s irrational because your vote is your vote. You’re simply taking it from yourself and giving it to the LP.

Don’t Vote? On Principle not voting could be the same as voting for None Of The Above. Or just laziness. But neither publicly adds educational value to the movement. More votes for the LP means ever increasing awareness of the libertarian cause year after year.

LP VP Candidate Spike Cohen on the Reality of Voting

Related Articles