Do we vote our consciouses? Do we vote pragmatically? Do we vote for our "cause" (party) even when the candidate falls short of our ideals? Why and how to vote are serious questions we should consider. Yet, I'm unconvinced there are "right" answers philosophically.
Myself, I cannot vote for a person with whom I disagree or distrust significantly. That's a moral centering I cannot violate, even when it proves to be less than pragmatic. And in this presidential year, I disagree with and distrust all four major-minor candidates. That's depressing.
David Frum offered "A Guide for Undecided Republicans: Choosing a president isn't easy in this election, but here are three ways a principled conservative might vote."
It isn't a satisfying read, if only because it reminds us how lost the Republican Party and the Libertarian Party are. It reminds us that we have no good choices, only less painful choices.
I've already indicated that I cannot, will not, support the election of Donald Trump. Maybe if you live in a "safe" state for Hillary Clinton you can cast a protest vote. If you live in a stage "safe" for Trump (is there such a state?) you can protest with a vote for anyone else.
Hillary Clinton is qualified. I don't question that. I simply disagree with her on everything from economic policies to foreign engagements. She is a calculating politician (which national politicians are not?) willing to use race, gender, class, and any other forms of envy. By comparison, Trump uses the fear of other races, gender anxieties, religious intolerance…. You get the idea.
The Clintons are about the Clintons. Bill Clinton's triangulation did work well for the national economy during his time in office. If we believe that self-interest can serve the public good (wow, is that an Ayn Rand concept), then Hillary's desire to be president and to be re-elected could guide her to make bargains better for the majority. But, as I've noted previously, I'm not a huge fan of anything by Rand other than The Fountainhead. Morality matters to me.
For once, I'm not even sure that you "must" vote to express a valid perspective. Maybe not voting is a valid form of protest, at least until we have some "None of the Above" rule that the winner must win 51 percent of the popular vote. At this point, I'd simply like to start the primary process (a lousy process that favors the fringes, by the way) all over again.
At least somebody will lose the election. Too bad all four major-minor candidates deserve to lose. But, I will say that some (Trump, Stein) deserve to lose more than the other two.
We need an intellectual, merit-focused, freedom-centered, anti-hate, libertarian set of voices. And even if we had those voices, I'm sure they'd lose the public arguments. But at least we'd have something worth supporting for those of us outside the mainstream.