21 October 2016

Counting Votes

By this time, many of us are extremely tired of politics. The level of election fatigue we are experiencing is unprecedented. I've seen people take Facebook breaks, or wish they could mute everything political. I understand this feeling, but I have a different take on it. These feelings present a real opportunity. If enough of us are tired of the way this election has been handled, we should engage MORE, not LESS. Otherwise we will be back in the same situation in four years.

I understand why some would choose to support Clinton or Trump. I believe that you can make a moral and ethical case for why each candidate is the right choice. It really comes down to how you weight different priorities. For many Republicans, Trump represents the best option for preventing a Democratic takeover of the Supreme Court. For many Democrats, Hillary Clinton has the experience, credentials, and temperament to serve as President, representing many of the beliefs that are central to the party.

I happen to have different criteria than either of these positions, and as a result cannot support Trump or Clinton. So what do I intend to do on election day?

I will vote.

Since I find both of these candidates unacceptable, I think it is important to register my distaste with an officially counted vote for President. This limits my choices to one of several small party candidates or a registered write-in candidate. Up-and-coming candidate Evan McMullin is not an option because he is not a registered write-in candidate in Florida.

I will probably vote for Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. I understand that this is a protest vote and that Johnson has no chance of winning. The Libertarian Party is a bit of a trainwreck, so this is not expressing my new party affiliation. However, my vote does need a home, and this is where it will probably go.

This brings us to an argument that we see often. Expressed by both Democrats and Republicans, it goes something like this:

"The winner will be either Clinton or Trump, so a vote for anyone other than Trump helps Clinton and a vote for anyone other than Clinton helps Trump."

I will vote for someone other than Trump or Clinton, understanding and accepting the statement above as fact. I don't think there is any reasonable scenario where Trump or Clinton is not president. Is it very likely that my vote, as someone who has voted Republican in every presidential election since I registered to vote, will help Hillary Clinton? It is.

But that does not mean that I should vote for Donald Trump.

The Republican Party has traditionally been a fair reflection of many of my political views. But the party is not my religion, it's politicians are not prophets, and its platform is not my doctrine. And during this electoral season, especially with Trump as nominee, the Party has moved away from me (and as a result, me from it).

I owe nothing to the Republican Party. I certainly owe nothing to Donald Trump. My vote is not something to be blindly bestowed on whichever candidate my party selects. The candidates job is to win that vote, through a combination of policy and demonstrated leadership. And neither major candidate as done so. I would be happy to discuss my specific concerns with anyone, but that's not the main purpose of this post.

As I said in an earlier post, I do not want Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States. But I am willing to accept that occurring if it means that a more effective and representative party emerges. For that to happen, Donald Trump has to lose, and badly. He will have himself to blame.

The Republican party needs to become something capable of winning presidential elections, or it needs to go away. I choose to use my vote to express that, and to me that counts for something.


Lillie said...

This was great, Joe. I'm still depressed and kind of want to throw my hands in the air. But that's just a default for those of us who get overwhelmed. Your plan has purpose... so that's better. ����Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

I'll be voting for Johnson for sure. I wrote a blog post a few days ago about that. if you're interested, it's at Sullivan Beck's blog.