As a side note, your vote is certainly not wasted if you vote for an independent for 2 reasons.
1) Both main parties desporately want your vote. You think Kerry really gives a crap about *Picking random, easily demonstrated example* organic growing methods? He clearly hasn't cared enough to get his wife to influence how Heinz grows THEIR tomotoes one way or the other. However, because the third party vote is so crucial, they'll court your oppinion. It could easily be argued people willing to vote third party are more influential than people who are hardline either way. NO ONE really gives a flip about the middle ground, because the middle ground doesn't vote. Third party votes are still votes, and both sides want the votes of unhappy people who demonstrate THEY WILL VOTE.
2) Money and time on the ballot. Look at the difficulty Nader had getting on the ballot. While I personally feel the reason is because Nader is a frightening idiot, it wouldn't have taken many more people voting for him before the Green party got a default slot and federal dollars. Remember, for a third party candidate, the magic number isn't 50%, it's 5%. At 5% whole new worlds in what's "possible" open up. At 5% you get invited to debates, get federal grants for campaign finances, and get to be on the ballot without the legal hassle. While I think the third party front runner this election is a fool, there are some third party candidates I wouldn't mind seeing get a seat at the table. It'd certainly make things more interesting.
** Note for the uneducate Americans and for the foreign readers: The 5% number is simplified, but largely accurate. See: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/featu ... rties.html
for more, granted highly biased, information. **