I used to believe 'third party' candidates were unelectable, so for many years I settled for and supported the GOP rather than 'waste' my vote for a Libertarian, even though the Libertarian Party always reflected my political philosophy better than the Republican Party.
In 1996 I finally realized you cannot raise bacon by feeding the chickens. When the Republicans ran a liberal - Bob Dole - as their presidential candidate, it became apparent my support of the GOP's 'Big Government' philosophy only assured my political beliefs would never see the light of day. Though the philosophical disparities between Democrats and Republicans were hotly debated in public, it became obvious to me those differences were really insignificant. Both of the major parties espouse 'Big Government' as the solution to all our social ills. The only real differences between Democrats and Republicans are how much 'Big Government' they believe the public will tolerate and how each party would fund its version of 'Big Government'.
Having suddenly become politically conscious, I realized the Libertarian Party was the only party truly calling for a smaller bureaucracy and minimal government. They wanted to return to a form of government which fell prey to two World Wars during which, by necessity, the size and scope of government was inflated to meet the crises facing our nation. There was no mechanism in place to assure the reduction of government after those crises were met. Eager to wield the influence of 'Big Government', power mongers offering largess to the public soon replaced the citizen-statesmen in office. We now have professional career political power brokers running our nation from both sides of the aisle, making a living by being popular rather than practical.
Though at times Libertarians seemed a bit extreme in their views, unrealistic in their approach, they are a small party where an individual can make a difference and influence policy, so in July of 1996 I called the party's toll free number to see about joining the local organization... only to find out I WAS the local organization. I was not alone for long. Today, we have a sizable county membership. New Libertarians are signing up at each monthly meeting. Each election year the state party and our county organizaion field a slate of candidates in national, state and local elections. Nation wide, Libertarians have gained and retained ballot access in most of the 50 states. The Libertarian Party is a truly viable political force.
The only wasted vote is a vote not cast, but I have come to realize that to vote for the candidate who does not best represent your views is worse than wasting your ballot. It empowers, with your endorsement, those who would act AGAINST your interests and political philosophy.
Don't waste your vote - or worse.