Two possible alternatives to voting for McCain or Obama are abstaining from voting and supporting Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr. Many people believe that voting is irrational because the chance that your vote will influence the outcome is infinitesmally small. I think this logic is incorrect, for reasons I discuss in detail in the first part of this article. To briefly summarize my argument, I contend that voting is rational so long as 1) the cost of voting is low, 2) you care at least slightly about your fellow citizens as well as yourself, and 3) you believe that there is a significant difference between the rival candidates. The low probability of your vote being decisive is balanced by the enormous benefits that will accrue if it is. I'm no paragon of civic virtue; but I do care about the future of the country as well as my own. And I also believe that the cost of voting is low and that there is a substantial difference between Obama and McCain, even though I have serious reservations about both. Thus, it will be rational for me to vote in the 2008 election.
As for the Libertarian Party, back in 2006 I wrote a post entitled "Why the Libertarian Party is Bad for Libertarianism." I still endorse the argument I made there. Readers interested in my thoughts on the LP may want to check out that post.