How to Vote When You Don’t Like Either of Them: A Simple Card Game That Completely Explains Presidential Elections
Voting is a game of strategy — and opting out doesn’t mean you’re not playing.
It’s the worst to be heading into an election and feeling like both candidates can just go suck it. What do you do then? Throw away your sacred vote on someone you don’t like? Stay home and opt out so you don’t have to hitch your wagon to either of these two jokers? No good choices here, right?
If that’s how you’re thinking, indulge me for a moment. Let’s reframe this voting thing into what it really is: a game.
There’s a card game I like to play called Skip-Bo. Winning Skip-Bo should be easy, but the game is designed to make you take your eye off the ball. Every time I play, I feel like I’m getting a master class in human psychology.
Skip-Bo is like UNO but with multiple card piles. There are five shared piles in the middle of the table, and each individual player has up to five piles of their own. To win, you have to deplete just ONE specific pile.
Only one pile really matters. The rest are just theater and tools to maneuver. Sometimes you might end up whomping down 20 cards in a row, which can feel really gratifying, only to realize that you haven’t touched the one pile that matters.
You can feel like you’re making progress when you’re not. You can feel like you’re doing something useful and important, but actually, you’ve just fallen victim to distraction.
So how does this correlate to the election?
Voting for President of the United States is not a test of your virtue, it’s not a protest, and it’s not a way to disassociate yourself from all the people who are out there trying to tell you which way to vote. It’s a utilitarian exercise designed to put one of two old white men in the White House. That’s the pile that matters.
One of these goobers is going to be in charge for four years. If you can’t vote FOR someone, then use your power to vote AGAINST someone else. You already know you’re going to be ticked off for four years, but which candidate is going to do less damage?
Remember, this is a game.
Voting for anyone other than two main candidates, or not voting at all, means that you’re cosigning the winner. By taking the supposed moral high ground, you’re ceding your vote to the rest of the voting population in your state. (Yes, those idiots.) In not going along with the crowd, you’ve empowered the crowd.
Your third-party candidate isn’t going to win and you know it. (The time to create a pathway for more than two candidates is between elections, not at the voting booth.)
By not voting, you may intend to stick your head in the sand, but what you’re really doing is giving someone else a head start on building a sand castle on your head.
What’s that saying I’ve heard so much this past year? Not saying anything is still communicating. Or, as my therapist used to say, doing nothing is still a choice. By not consciously getting in the game, you’re playing into someone else’s strategy. Why would you give away that power?
Skip-Bo has all the answers
So don’t get distracted with the theater of all this. Don’t get so bound up in moving your cards around that you take your eye off the prize. Someone is going to win and someone is going to lose. You have a card to play. Don’t throw it away. Make it count.