Let me preface by saying that this is just, like, my opinion, man. Just my thoughts on protest votes in America’s majority-rule election system. Deep breath (and flame suit on):
Quite frankly, anyone voting third-party/write-in is guilty of at least one of the following:
1) Not understanding the political system well enough to realize how counter-productive protest votes are.
2) Being privileged enough that neither outcome will have any meaningful impact on their daily life.
3) Feel they have been personally wronged by a certain candidate. (for which I won’t offer a counter-argument)
I completely understand that people don’t like either candidate, but that won’t change the fact that the winner WILL be either Clinton or Trump. A protest vote only serves to give your ideological opposite a one-vote advantage (assuming McMullin doesn’t pull a hail-Mary in Utah, a Clinton-Trump tie in the Electoral College, and a House upset).
But ignoring all of that, people don’t seem to realize that politics is a team sport. One good-intentioned politician can’t do anything by themselves, even if the general pubic stands behind them. You need the support of your fellow legislators, a reality that forces people to choose sides. Without Party unity, you won’t succeed; just look at Bernie (and Trump if the election outcome reflects the current polls).
You can characterize an election as choosing the lesser of two evils, but you are actually choosing the effective vote: casting your vote such that it has the most likely chance of electing the best (least-worst) candidate. You’ll have to deal with at least 4 years of Clinton or Trump, so it’s your privilege and obligation to vote for whichever candidate will make your life easier. And if you’re fortunate enough that neither candidate makes much difference to you, then at the very least you should acknowledge that there are millions of people counting on a certain outcome, and you have the power to help/hinder their situation.
Protest votes only have merit under a preferential voting system, such as Australia’s instant-runoff voting.
If at all possible, try to keep responses politically neutral. This is just meant to be a discussion about protest votes in a majority-rule political system, not an opportunity to vilify either candidate.