Over at C11, Tim Carney gets at what I think is the core of the argument for its importance:
… you can hope it “sends a message.” Maybe the GOP power-brokers who are studying the numbers in December and trying to figure out what went wrong will notice a few million votes for the Constitution Party or Libertarian Party nominees and think to themselves, “Well, for one thing, we need to do something to shore up our conservative and libertarian vote — no more carbon taxers and political-speech-haters.” In the same vein, maybe a truly conservative Republican will look at the quantity of protest votes on the Right and be encouraged, thinking, “I could win those voters.”
Maybe that’s asking a lot. After all, you are casting only one vote. If you spend too much time thinking about the insignificance of one vote, you’ll never vote at all — which maybe is the rational course of action. What could you do with the 10 to 90 minutes it takes you to vote? Take your kids for a walk, update your blog, or read some of my old articles.
I for one am going to take my kid for a walk when I go to vote – and while I’m well aware that my ballot will do less to send a message than even this blog does, I’m perfectly happy to use it for exactly that purpose.
P.S. In a similar vein, see Alan Jacobs:
… I, as a Christian who owes allegiance to the church, am necessarily something of a resident alien in any country and in any polity; and I think it also means that almost any vote I make needs to be something of a protest vote — a protest against a society which simply does not support a consistently pro-life ethic.
One thing that is sometimes frustrating, though very often nice, about blogging is when other people make your points for you. Alan goes on to pose a couple of hugely important questions for pro-life Obama supporters:
… I understand the core claim: Obama supports abortion, but he will implement policies X Y and Z that by reducing poverty will reduce the frequency of abortions; plus he will save lives by getting us out of Iraq. Fair enough. But you’re voting for someone who strongly supports eliminating every legal impediment to something that you think is a great moral evil. Doesn’t that make you somewhat uncomfortable? Don’t you feel the paradox of that?
Put slightly differently, it is one thing for a pro-life Christian to decide to cast a vote for Obama while being open and honest about how horrible his position on abortion ultimately is, and quite another for such a person to insist – as so many do – that his policies actually are pro-life. The first position is the kind of paradoxical stance that is inevitably going to be demanded of a Christian from time to time; the second is a deeply irresponsible exercise in excuse-making and self-deception. And I have even less patience for that than for the view that casting a ballot for a candidate who isn’t going to win (McCain, anyone?) somehow amounts to a waste of my vote.
UPDATE: Russell Arben Fox strikes me as a pro-life Obama voter with roughly the right attitude. If I thought Obama would be better on foreign policy and civil liberties than his campaign has suggested, I’d quite possibly be in a similar position.