Strategic voting should not be as popular as it is today. The point of democracy is to have your individual voice represented and heard by the government, not be reduced to a body of general principles that you may or may not believe in. So why are people so wrapped up in strategic voting?
Strategic voting is where an individual votes for the party that is most similar to their values and who has the best chance of winning. It is meant as a preventative measure to ensure that the individual feels as if their vote will count and that they won’t just be throwing it away.
Represent your individual beliefs
However, if voters concerned themselves less with how other people voted, and more on how they actually felt about political issues, then (theoretically), there would be less accusation about how the voting went and disagreement with the government that gains power. It is our responsibility as voters in a democratic system to cast our ballots in a way that best represents our individual beliefs.
Obviously, there is a fair amount of hullabaloo and fuss over any and every election. For this election, it is irrelevant whether or not youth have been more exposed to the issues that are ever more present in our day to day lives; strategic voting is an issue that has been brought up in almost all of the election-oriented conversations I’ve had.
The cowards way out
To be candid, it is the coward’s way out. Speak up for yourself. Speak up for what you believe is moral. If enough people do this then we have a fighting chance to have a truly representational government. Our ability to vote is a responsibility in itself, but on top of that, each individual has a responsibility to express their opinions.
Yes, it is important to consider others in our votes. But why not consider others in the sense of how each party’s platform will affect demographics of which you are not a part of? Why not consider those whose voices historically have not been heard and need support, rather than considering others because you want to vote against them? By having a positive voting outlook rather than a negative one towards it allows for the voter’s voice to be more authentic.
This is not a dismissal of the fear of splitting the left, which is so valid and real, but strategic voting is not the answer. People should consider the future of not only our country but the world. If individuals voted for the party that most aligned with their personal ideologies at this time in their life, the worry would shift from “who is our leader and what do they represent” to “what are our government’s actions?” This is a more important consideration.
The lesser evil
Our current electoral system is not perfect; it is spoken of as the lesser of the other “evils.” But that does not imply that is the stance we need to take while working within that system. The upcoming generation of first-time voters, should not need to worry about strategic voting. This year, youth outnumber the Boomers for the first time. If the majority of other generations are voting on the basis of their personal beliefs, why should we do any different?
People are better informed than ever before. However, it is important that we remember that we live in echo chambers of our own making. We cannot ignore that the demonstrations led by young activists is real, undeniable, proof that there is support and solidarity around big issues.
Actions speak louder than words
Actions speak louder than words. However, words, more often than not, inform the decision making that leads to action. By having candid and respectful discussions not only with people who agree with your values, but particularly with those who you have contention with, has a much higher chance of change than shying away from those conversations.
Although it may result in having a tense conversation around the dinner table, consider addressing and challenging ideas that you do not believe in. You should not expect that you can make someone change their mind, but it is worth the time to reflect, evaluate your beliefs, and to show a new perspective to someone else.
If the democratic system is supposed to represent the voice of the people, the voters need to stop being so hesitant to vote for who they believe is the best candidate. Strategic voting is not the answer.