Before I begin, if you’re a US citizen then register to vote. Between the registration deadline and voting day you might have a change of heart. There are lots of places to check if you’re registered and they can help you if you’re not. Here’s one: https://plz.vote/r/1qfe6k
Depending on how many years you’ve been following along you may or may not know that I don’t always vote. Did I ever regret it? Let’s break it down by year.
2000: I voted for Bush. Regret. (Although I don’t think he’s a horrible person and he’s multitudes better than the current Republican choice.)
2004: I didn’t vote. Regret.
2008: I voted for Obama. Best voting decision thus far. (Although not great because I made down ballot mistakes.)
2012: I didn’t care and didn’t vote. Regret more so for the down ballot than the president. I think Mitt Romney probably would have made an alright president even if he lets his ideology make some of his decisions for him.
I can say three things based on my voting record:
1) I’m not registered to a party, I don’t vote based on party lines, and didn’t believe Democrats were inherently better or worse than Republicans.
2) I will now always vote, including mid-term elections, from here on out. Regret is a feeling I’d like to minimize in my life.
3) Not voting or voting for a third party is a wasted vote, no matter how anybody spins it.
Let’s tackle number three. The problem with third party voting is that it doesn’t change anything. If you haven’t voted locally for third parties. If you haven’t supported third parties in smaller campaigns and gotten them *elected*. Then pretending like you want to fix a broken system at the top is something you’ve sold yourself.
And I know the feeling, because it’s exactly how I felt in 2012 when I considered voting third party and ultimately decided against it. “Fuck it. This system doesn’t work. I’m opting out.”
I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong.
The system does work, but it’s imperfect. We’ve been fixing those imperfections for years and we’ll continue to do so for years to come. Imperfection is okay.
What I didn’t want to admit to myself, and maybe you’re in this boat, is that there is nuance to government just like there is nuance to my own life. (I’ll venture to guess that nobody thinks their lives are perfect, even if they’re great.)
If you’re for Trump (and many people I know are) well, there’s nothing I can do except to say that’s disheartening and I hope you won’t regret the vote like I’ve regretted some of my past votes.
This is for those of you thinking about sitting it out or going Johnson or Stein (or other).
I like Johnson. In any other year he would be a decent choice for Republicans. But it’s not any other year. Among other things, the Republican controlled Senate has refused to do their jobs and our Supreme Court has been short handed for longer than is acceptable. (My regret: I helped put some of those folks in office with my non-vote.) But it’s also different because Trump is the Republican nominee and you already know how terrible he is or you probably wouldn’t be thinking about voting third party.
By nearly every objective measure Clinton/Kaine is a better choice for the majority of people. Imperfect? Sure. Best choice? Definitely. If you voted for and liked Obama, well this year’s ticket is even more progressive. To be honest, as a classical liberal, I prefer things to be in the center, but there’s that nuance again. Centrism is a somewhat utopian vision that I don’t suspect will ever come to pass. So I’ll take progressiveness over regressiveness any day, even if I’m not fully on board with all of it.
And you can say what you want about Secretary Clinton, because she’s surely not without faults, but in non-voting years her Republican counterparts had a lot of great things to say about her. She has done a fine job working across party lines. More than that, even this year many well known Republicans are voting for her. It’s actually unprecedented how many folks are crossing party lines to vote for Clinton/Kaine.
I try as much as possible to be on the right side of history. Divisiveness, racism, bigotry, nationalism, and religious privilege/entitlement are the types of things I thought (hoped, anyway) that we were finally moving passed.
If you want to see what it’s like when a country’s people succumb to those feelings again you can look around at what has happened in elections and referendums around the world.
For example, in Poland just on Monday millions of women protested for abortion rights. Poland already has some of the most restrictive women’s rights in the world and it might get worse before it gets better. How many of these same women voted in an anti-abortion right wing ruling party in last year’s elections? A lot of them. I personally know a few who now regret that vote.
Your vote (and non or third party vote) has consequences. If you don’t want Trump to be our president, but you don’t vote or you vote third party, you will regret your vote just like I’ve regretted some of mine. I assure you you’ll look back in a few years and think, “god dammit why was I so young and dumb and full of rum? Why did I care so much about my own precious little feelsies and refrain from making a difficult choice so I could claim to protect my supposed conscience?”
Thanks for reading. If nothing else I hope I’ve made a reasonable case for registering to vote so you’re ready to go on Nov 8. (Registration deadlines are coming up fast.)
Update (Thursday Oct 6): 30 former Republican congressmen denounced Trump today in an open letter and say they will not vote for him. It just keeps coming.
Update (Friday Oct 7): Fuck Donald Trump. Deplorable, indeed.