Monday, June 13, 2016

Ranting On...Not Voting

All right, after the events in Orlando yesterday, I needed to not worry for the day, so my diet went out the window, I binge-watched Modern Family reruns, and am now really wishing that I had taken a vacation day or something, because it's Monday and this week already looks rough from the outset.  But soldier on we must, and I figured I'd start with a conversation that I've been meaning to have on the blog because it's one I can't seem to stop having in real life.

Yes, we're returning to the election well, and it's time to discuss something that's truly bothering me right now in the world, and that's the whole disgust over both of the presidential candidates this cycle.  Every four years this is a conversation people have, throwing out both candidates with the bath water, but in particular this cycle, with two wildly unpopular candidates in Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, people have gotten more disgusted than usual with the presidential cycle and I keep hearing "I just don't want to vote" or "I'm not going to vote" and I think, especially in light of yesterday's tragic events, it's time to take a good, long look in the mirror about what your perceptions of this year's electoral contest looks like.

The reality is, and this is something that I'm going to count as a point-of-pride, that I don't believe I have any person in my life at this point who is going to be voting for Donald Trump.  Even my Republican friends, of whom I have a few, have categorically stated that Trump is off-the-table for them.  They are exploring a variety of options, ranging from voting for Hillary Clinton to voting third party to a write-in protest vote to simply not voting at all, but as far as I know no one in my real-life world is actually considering voting for Trump.  This is reassuring to me on a variety of levels, but at least I don't have to deal with that can-of-worms.

But so many people, including a number of Democrats, are throwing out Hillary Clinton with the same sort of fervor as Donald Trump, and I'm going to protest a little here for a variety of reasons, but number one is this: Hillary Clinton is better qualified, in literally every way, than Donald Trump to be our commander-in-chief.  Forget for a second political views, and just look at this objectively.  Intelligence, morals, competence, gravitas, attitude, worldview, reserve-you name it, Hillary Clinton can top Trump in that corner.  This is not a case of simply a Republican vs. a Democrat.  This is a man who is despicable, who airs racist attacks on judges, viciously attacks women with sexist dialogue, wants to ban entire religious groups from this country, and as of yesterday even took glee in the deaths of fifty people in Orlando.  He is an awful human being, and Hillary Clinton is better than him.  On every level.  The worst that you can say about Hillary Clinton is that she's your average politician.  Donald Trump is much, much, much worse than that.

Which is why it's so hard for me stomach it when people are saying that they don't want to vote for Hillary Clinton for whatever reason.  I am a little more forgiving of Republicans who are dealing with this than the Democrats (who need to suck. it. up.), I'll admit right now, because on a lot of issues Hillary Clinton is the opposite of so many people whom the media and the left are expecting to just get behind her.  I don't agree with people who are pro-life on abortion or against the ACA or who want to privatize social security, but I can respect those stances.  Trust me, I would have trouble voting for Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney or John McCain too if the shoe was on the other foot.  It would break my heart, and I would be praying for a viable third party option (Jill Stein would be getting a retweet or two in the same way Gary Johnson is right now from conservatives), but at the end of the day I would get over it and cast my ballot for one of those men because it is my moral imperative to do so, I truly feel that, because Donald Trump is dangerous to the well-being of our country.  He is a horrifying, scary man whose behavior is that of a dictator and an imbecile somehow all-at-once.  He rebukes our allies like Mexico and the United Kingdom while celebrating totalitarian dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un.  You can say a lot about Hillary Clinton, and a lot of people do, but you don't have to worry about her starting World War III.

And so I guess that's where the difficulty is for me on this issue.  Granted, I think about politics more than the average person, many of whom are just tuning in when I never really tune out so my perception is a bit skewed here, but the fact is that a third party challenger will not be a strong enough candidate to genuinely threaten Clinton or Trump.  There's no one famous enough, and Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is not going to be the answer here, and it's certainly not going to be Bernie Sanders (who for some reason conservatives seem to like more that I talk to than Clinton even if he's far to her left).  There is nothing that Hillary Clinton, even on her worst day, has ever done that has approached the behavior exhibited by Donald Trump.  For me, the election is simple, and was put beautifully by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham a week or so ago when he said "at some point love of country needs to trump a hatred of Hillary."  That seems to be a directive for Republicans, who have always, truly detested Hillary Clinton for reasons that I've never quite understood.  After all, her corruption scandals always seemed relatively light compared to others (seriously-compare the email scandal to Iran-Contra or the US Attorney firings on the Republican side), and she believes just as passionately in her causes as her husband or former boss, and yet they get the benefit-of-the-doubt while she gets none.

But the thing about it is, and this is the truth, not voting is not the brave thing to do, or the American thing to do.  Forget for a second that men and women have literally died for that right to be bestowed upon you, and that billions of people around the world are under a totalitarian regime where they get no say in their government, that the right you are denying yourself is something that most of the human race will never get to experience.  No one in power listens to people who don't vote.  That's a stone cold fact.  You might be sitting on your couch protesting, but no one is hearing that message.  If you don't believe me, look at how much politicians care about primary voters in recent years over even general election voters-the people who care so much they vote twice in a given year-those are the voters that they actually cater toward.  If every person under thirty in the country voted this November, their issues would be addressed-politicians would be too fearful not to do so.  If every eligible woman or Latino or LGBT person or yes, every straight white man voted, those would be the voices that would be heard.  The worst way you can possibly send a message is by doing nothing, because that's casting a vote for the person you wouldn't have voted for, and you don't even get the credit for that.  I'm too selfish toward my own interests and believe too strongly in the issues I care about, and the issues I believe in, to not vote, even if I have to vote for a candidate that I don't agree with on everything (because even I, a supporter, don't like Hillary Clinton on every issue).

If you are truly forced to make a choice, and you would pick Hillary over Trump even though you don't like either, you are voting for Trump by not voting.  There is no debate here-staying at home is a vote for Trump.  Building off of what Sen. Graham said, sometimes it's important to put a love of country and of your loved ones ahead of your party, and skipping the ballot box is not the answer.  Four years from now, Hillary Clinton will have kept the country safe-you might not have agreed with all of her policy decisions, but she will have kept the country and the world safe, and kept people's freedoms and dignities intact.  If at that point you still, as a conservative, want to see Hillary Clinton lose, you'll have your chance in 2020.  But this year, the stakes are too high to stay home, and not voting is no way to send a message.  There are no amount of personal hang-ups about Hillary Clinton voters-on-the-fence might have that are worth praying for four years that Donald Trump doesn't destroy the planet.

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