For the first time in over 40 years, I don't intend to vote for any of the candidates running for national election. That is for the simple reason that there is nobody in either the Republican or Democratic party leadership that represents my interests. But if you are going to bother to vote in the next national election, I have some suggestions:
1) Vote the Hawks out of office. That includes Obama, Hillary, and any of the so-called Democrats who thrive on wars. Vote for any candidate who will not bow down to the Pentagon and military contractors. If there are no such candidates, don't vote. It would be better to have an open military coup than the façade of democracy we currently have.
2) Vote only for candidates who will tax the rich in a meaningful amount. A 1% tax increase on billionaires is both cowardly and tokenism at its worst. Corporations and the super-rich should be made to return the money they stole from the American people. If the only candidates on the ticket continue to force poor and working people to pay for the "deficit" created by the rich and the Pentagon, don't vote. Placating the rich is unacceptable regardless of which party sells us out.
3) End the store-bought elections that the Supreme Court sanctioned in the Citizens United case. Democracy cannot exist if elected offices go to the highest bidder. Support only candidates who oppose these rigged, undemocratic charades we now call elections.
4) Vote only for candidates who want to shut down our impossibly over-crowded prisons, and to replace repression with educational opportunities and jobs. If all of the potential candidates are afraid to oppose the police-state mentality that currently dominates our domestic society, don't vote.
The American people have been disenfranchised from the electoral process, and from any semblance of democratic decision-making. We have been bought and sold by corporate hooligans. The only way out of this is to fight back against these thugs. Continuing to support the "lesser of two evils" is suicidal when the only choices we are given consist of "candidates" chosen by our enemies.
The principles enumerated above do not apply to local elections, or policy considerations that affect local communities. It applies to all elections affecting those who hold national offices.
Why It Is Counter-productive to Vote Independent or 3rd Party?
The reason not to vote independent or 3rd party is that it sends the oligarchy and the public the wrong message. The only contenders that can possibly win a national election reside in either the Democratic or Republican parties. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of corporate oligarchs. By destroying the US labor movement (with all due respect to Wisconsin) the rich ensured that no candidate would be able to raise enough money from working people to defeat corporate financed front-(wo)men. No independent candidate could conceivably hope to raise enough money to compete with the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be spent on national elections during the next decade. The media monopolies will uniformly endorse the outcomes demanded by the rich.
Accordingly, by voting at all, the voter is suggesting that the process has hope and/or legitimacy. It does not. When a sporting event is so corrupt and gangster-ridden that skill is no longer involved in determining who the winner will be, the sports enthusiast stops going to the stadium until the rules change. Our national elections are that corrupt and dishonest.
Unless either of the two-headed corporate-owned parties somehow fields a candidate who fits into the prerequisites set forth above, it is crucial for the American people to vote with their feet, and not their hearts. By supporting a Kucinich, a Nader, or the socialist candidate of your choice, you tell the oligarchy that you have faith in the election, itself, and are a willing participant. The better alternative is to let those in power know that you will simply not participate in a rigged stage-show. If you don't have a horse that can win in the race, you shouldn't place a bet. Betting on a sure loser makes you a chump, not a participant.
The symbolic value of voting for a principled 3rd party candidate is meaningless in comparison to the harm caused: you will be identified as a "fringe voter," who, like the right-wing ideologues, or the religious zealots, or the "leftist radicals" reflect less than 5% of the American people. The reality is that those who detest the current Republican/Democratic agenda are the majority of Americans, not the fringe. Don't fall into the trap of self-identifying as a fringe element of an overwhelmingly conservative nation. The rich are the neo-conservatives and the minority, not us.
How Do You "Fight Back?"
By participating in local elections, only, and around issues you can control, you have the potential to raise consciousness, build a non-corporate base, and further the politics and causes you support. It is self-defeating to lend credence to the clowns that corporate America parades before us as "elected representatives." These fools represent no one except the corporations that purchased their offices. It is time to withdraw as much financial support as is feasible from war-mongering corporate oligarchs, and to rebuild the country as a true democracy. The solutions to our problems lie outside corporate boardrooms, and not through supplications to the rich.