*First, I must issue a disclaimer: I believe that everyone has the right not to vote. In my younger years I would sit out the occasional election because I could not bring myself to vote for a so-so candidate only to make a statement against a candidate I really, really didn't like at all. And I sat out elections because participating made me feel corrupt.
These days, though, I do vote, and Clarke makes a convincing argument for why independents should continue:
If you are a Purple Voter, always vote in every primary election! Especially the small ones...
You might not think it matters, but the people we vote for in primaries are very influential. They choose the rosters of candidates that we’re presented with for many higher offices. They form the staff of national campaigns. They are listened to by the national parties when drafting policies, candidates and platforms.
Somehow in America many purple voters (like me) believe that if the candidate they voted for didn’t win then their vote didn’t count. And often in primary elections today, the middle ground (purple) candidate loses. But our votes do matter; politics, like business, runs on a market economy. Only in politics, votes are the currency. The mere fact that someone got our vote will cause other politicians to veer in our direction to try to woo us the next time we spend our vote (see how John Kerry veered left in 2004 to try to recapture the voters that went for Nader in 2000).
Good advice, especially for independents who are less politically active and think that primaries or local elections don't count for much. If you think your vote counts only if your candidate wins, you probably don't have much incentive to cast a ballot for someone unlikely to win, like an independent or third-party candidate. But as Clarke points out, the major-party candidates are starting to pay attention to our voting habits. Maybe your vote is doing nothing more than sending a message, but Washington is starting to get that message.