I support Gary Johnson. But maybe you shouldn’t. Not yet, anyway.

July 29, 2016

With the official selection of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the major party nominees, more Americans than ever before are looking into the long-ignored Libertarian and Green parties. I’ve identified with the Libertarian Party since I first became aware of them in 2012, and held many of their ideals (while calling myself a “moderate Republican”) for years before that. Though I only came of voting age last August, I’ve long been adamant that I would always support the candidate who I felt was best, regardless of their odds. In essence, I refused to vote for the lesser of two evils. People used to tell me that I’d be wasting my vote by supporting a third party candidate. On the contrary, I’ve always believed that it’d be an even bigger waste for me to throw my vote to a candidate I didn’t really believe in.

I’m sure a lot of Americans genuinely believe that Trump or Clinton are the best thing for this country. And, disagree with it as I may, that’s fine. I may try and challenge someone else’s ideals, but I’d never ask that they vote against them. However, it’s become abundantly clear that the major party candidates are garnering less enthusiastic support than they have in a long time. The Republican and Democratic parties are more fractured than ever before, as even longtime members find themselves questioning their respective nominees. To those on the fence, I implore you to explore other options. For me, that other option turned out to be Gary Johnson, an excellent candidate who I’ve been proud to stand for since his first presidential run four years ago.

That said, I don’t want you to throw your support behind him. At least, not immediately. Depending on which issues matter most to you, Johnson may or may not be a good fit. Do your research. Maybe you side more with Jill Stein, the other third party candidate with enough ballot access to potentially win. Or maybe you’ll come to find that Clinton or Trump really is your best choice after all.

Would I like you to support my preferred candidate? Absolutely! But only if you genuinely believe in his cause over all the others. If not, then you must continue your search. Avoiding a “wasted vote” doesn’t mean picking blue or red, or yellow or green. It only means that you’ve voted for the right candidate for you. Regardless of who it’s for, a well-considered vote is never a wasted vote. But a vote you don’t believe in always is.

Your vote is important. Please don’t waste it.

PS: If you’d like to start looking into the candidates and their views relative to your own, ISideWith.com is a great resource. I first used it when trying to decide between Obama and Romney in 2012, and ended up discovering Gary Johnson’s candidacy instead. Take the quiz, the results might surprise you.

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