It’s ridiculous to cite experiences from the primary, when your main argument is set in the general election. A first-past-the-post system encourages only two contenders. In the primary, it makes sense to vote for Sanders because Clinton is the only viable alternative. A vote for Sanders is not a “protest vote”. It’s not even remotely similar to voting third-party in the general election.
It’s ridiculous to make stuff up out of thin air. It is not ridiculous to recognize that voting can and does change the system in which the votes take place. You said it doesn’t. I gave you a concrete example of why you were wrong. Now you want to pretend that this phenomenon magically cannot apply in the general election “just because?”
The phenomenon in question only has to do with shedding light on the problems inherent in the process, which is what happened in the Democratic primary. The central logical premise upon which this rests on a generic level is that you cannot fix a problem you don’t know about, and, in the specific context of the general election, a large number of Americans are, at best, only vaguely aware of the problems with the electoral college. The day the threat of the electoral college being unable to render the democratic wishes of the electorate becomes a reality, we will see the same phenomenon again. People will rightly be like…
There is no evidence and no reasonable argument to be made to suggest otherwise.
In a general election, voting for a third-party doesn’t undermine the electoral college. It simply undermines the mainstream candidate more aligned with you, either Clinton or Trump. Feel free to believe the only way to change the electoral college is to ask people to vote out of ignorance and then protest about unfairness. But I don’t buy that.
argumentum ad namuseum (and you’re still wrong)
As for the straw man you’re putting up that I’m asking people to vote out of ignorance, I very much am trying to make people aware that change is not built upon repeating the same things over. Change is built on doing something different. Ignorance is going into the voting booth and mashing the same buttons you did last time because you are afraid. You cannot demand anything from politicians if you continue to surrender your vote to them out of fear.
I will point out, too, that basing an argument against voting for a third-party candidate on a static concept of the electoral college as it is now is also a form of fear-mongering. It’s actually the same argument, and a reiteration of the tactic that aims to guarantee zero change to the system by strong-arming people into voting against the candidate they hate most instead of for the candidate they like best. I am not so scared of the House of Representatives that I am going to vote for Trump or Clinton. A vote for them is still a vote for the unjust system they will maintain, and, by voting for them, you are endorsing them. Period. I do not endorse them. I will not be badgered, browbeaten, scared, or coerced into giving them my vote. If you have a problem with that then ask the major parties to give me better candidates to choose from.
The system has to change if there is ever going to be real democracy and justice. Given that the Democratic and Republican parties trade and thrive off of this very injustice, that injustice is at the heart of what keeps them in business, that it is in their best interest to do everything they can to keep things as they are, it is wholly illogical to vote for one of their candidates and expect anything to change. If you want third-party candidates to ever win, you have to vote for them; you cannot ask the Democrats and Republicans to cede ground to create conditions for third-party winners. We have to seize that ground with our votes and voices and put the inadequacies and injustices of the system in the limelight. We’re not going to get that by voting for Democrats or Republicans or by calling our Senators. A vote for Clinton or Trump is a vote for inertia, for making change come as slowly as possible.