A friend of mine asked how I "would respond to people who say that [voting 3rd party] makes you politically irrelevant."
I do have a response to this, and it is thus.
Here is the strategy we must pursue.
If people actually feel represented by the two-party system, fine, vote for them. But if not, instead of holding our noses and voting Democrat or Republican, we should vote Green and Libertarian, respectively, or whoever people do feel represented by.
Because as much as we may want a Democrat (or Republican) to win, I assure you that they -- those politicians -- want that power much more. And we can use this to our advantage. Specifically, until they change their respective platforms to actually represent The People, they deserve to lose every election until that happens.
If people vote Green instead of Democrat, and the Democratic Party loses 2 presidential elections in a row, Dems will be forced to copy some policies from the Green Party to get power, and we will probably get the best Democratic presidential candidate in the history of the country.
And if people vote Libertarian instead of for the GOP, Republicans will then have to copy good (or at least popular) policies from Libertarians, and we'll get someone a lot more like Gary Johnson than George Bush in office -- a dramatic improvement.
So the fundamental problem with least-worst voting is that it's short-sighted, and these short-term optimizations have us tricking ourselves into electing the second-worst candidate -- a terrible choice!
Democracy literally does not work when we vote for people who we don't want in office. We can only be rescued by voting our conscience, punishing these bastards by not voting for them, making clear demands about what they'd need to do to earn our vote, and stick to our guns until they do what we want.
Interestingly, this has arguably been tried, whether people realized they started doing this or not -- with Nader in 2000. Unfortunately, even Nader voters blame Nader voters for Bush and Iraq! So this will be a hard sell, because of the Nader thing and because people would have to stop believing that their tribe is actually that much better than the opposing tribe and that losing an election wouldn't mean "the end of the country as we know it", but I have yet to see and yet to think of a better voting strategy than this.
Only 29% of Americans are registered Democrat and 26% are registered Republican. Most recently, least-worst voting has gotten us the two most despised major party nominees in the history of the United States.
So perhaps there is hope. The least we can do is try!