voting for president is fake :-P

a warning: i am regrettably american, so if you live in a country with a functioning electoral system, you need not read this except to feel smugly superior.

it's yet another presidential election year in the states, so we're already inundated with edifying thinkpieces about how important it is to vote, even if you're not enthused about either choice (i.e., you're a rational human being). despite the presidential elections getting far and away the most attention, however, they are basically inarguably the least important ones for most usians to pay attention to. this is for one simple reason: unless you live in a shifting set of half a dozen competitive (swing) states, your vote for president literally does not matter. i understand why acknowledging this is unpopular among the chattering class: it can sound like you're telling people not to vote. and since many self-appointed "experts" on civic engagement are democrats, and democrats usually benefit from high-turnout elections, they naturally want to boost turnout, and telling people their votes don't count isn't a good way to do that, even if it's true. but twice in my lifetime, the candidate who won the most votes lost the election, so if the popular vote doesn't matter, and competitive races are decided by at most a few states, the reality is plain: your vote for president likely doesn't matter.

here's how i think about voting in light of this fact, as someone who has always lived in "safe" states and thus never had to bother with presidential races. it's nonetheless worth voting within the constraints you find yourself. voting in local and state races may be worth doing, particularly in primary elections. i'm a registered democrat solely because that is the only way i have any influence whatsoever in my local context. if you live in a state with "open" primaries, you won't have to suffer the indignity of registering with either major party, but if you're not so fortunate, i strongly recommend registering with whichever party is going to win where you live anyway. this way you at least have some input at the candidate selection phase. if you live in a red district in a blue state, or vice versa, i would err on the side of whichever party draws the district lines. you might sacrifice a say in who your representative and certain state officials are temporarily, but you'll reliably have some voice in who your governor and senators are, and you'll be able to influence your state's presidential primary if the contest isn't already sown up by the time your state's primary comes around, which it probably will be because (as above) your vote for president probably doesn't matter.

i'm not opposed to the "lesser of two evils" argument in principle, but we need to take it to its logical conclusion, which the commentariat usually doesn't bother to do. vote in the primaries—local, state, and federal—of whatever party is likely to win wherever you live. pay attention to your local and state elections especially, as these will affect you most directly, check your primary rules, and sort out how to vote for the least fascistic candidate in any given race. local and state primary races have exceptionally low turnout, so your vote might even mean something!