Hey! Howdy. Since you're on the internet, I'm sure you're painfully aware that there's an American election coming up. This post is for the Americans who will be voting in the election, which ideally would be every American who is old enough and not currently prohibited from voting for felony reasons, or comas, or other stuff I'd rather you weren't involved in.
More specifically, it's for the people who intend to vote for - or are considering voting for - someone other than a Democrat or Republican for a high-level position (say, Governor or above) at any point before we get ourselves an instant-runoff voting system. That's when you get to rank the candidates in order on the ballot, and your vote will go to your favorite candidate, but if they're in last place, they're eliminated; in that case, your vote goes to your second choice of candidate. Depending on how many candidates there are, your second choice might get eliminated, too, so your vote would go to your third choice. More details are at the link, above. That's a good system for giving any candidate from any party a chance to win. I would be thrilled forever if we could have that system. BUT WE DO NOT HAVE THAT SYSTEM.
Sadly, what we have is a situation where your well-intentioned vote for, say, the Green Party candidate (just giving an example here!) will permanently take your vote away from the Democrat who is sympathetic to green issues, and will give an advantage to the Republican who is really a lot less likely to ever help you with green issues. So I'm here to advocate for choosing a likely-to-win candidate from one of the two major parties, the one who will be generally sympathetic to the more intense values you may have. After you help them win, you can and should follow up by writing to that candidate on a regular basis to let them know what you want them to work on while in office. Voting for a candidate who can't possibly win is not an effective way to enact your preferences. Communicating directly with a sympathetic major-party candidate WHO HAS WON is much more effective.
However, while we're stuck with our current voting system, it can still make a big difference to vote for alternative-party candidates at the local level, if that's what you want to do. Fewer people bother to show up to vote in local elections, so your vote can have a lot of impact on the results. As they get experience and become more well-known, they'll have more opportunities to move upward in politics, and maybe work to promote the instant-runoff voting system that might propel them to the top one day!
Anyway, please vote in this election! As effectively as possible.