In the process of rereading (for the so-embarrassingly-many-I-can't-remembereth time) the 5-book long Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy," I stumbled across a passage I did not particularly remember, but which I think is as good a summary of electoral politics as you'll find anywhere. It goes thus:
[A giant robot from outer space] held up a hand.
"I come in peace," it said, adding after a long moment of further grinding, "take me to your Lizard."
Ford Prefect, of course, had an explanation for this ...
"It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see."
[Arthur Dent speaking] "You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"
"No," said Ford ... "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
"I did," said Ford. "It is."
"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get red of the lizards?"
"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in."
Needless to say, the next time I'm accused of "wasting my vote" on a third party candidate who has no hope of winning, I think I'll refer the accuser to this passage. At a certain point you just have to stop voting for the lizards, don't you?