I was checking out Kenneth in the 212 this evening and caught this post in which Kenneth says, “I hope those of you who opted not to do the right thing [referring to those who voted for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or who didn’t vote at all] can sleep at night, because it sure as hell isn’t getting any easier for anyone who doesn’t fit the straight-white-Christian-man mold of when the U.S. was supposedly so “great” to do so.”
I very much dislike when people blame me — and anyone else who voted for a third party — for the fact that Trump won the presidency. It’s not that I misunderstand the argument they’re making, it’s that I think if you’re going to blame us for Clinton’s loss, you might as well blame Trump supporters as well because we all have one thing in common: we didn’t vote the way they wanted.
The assumption is that I — and others — would have preferred to have Clinton as president than Trump. That’s not a safe assumption to make. And when people try to blame me for the fact that their candidate lost, I am petty enough to be just a little happier that she lost.
It’s true that I think Clinton was a more qualified, more professional, more intelligent, more mature candidate than Trump. But I didn’t want Clinton to be president. I also didn’t want Trump to be president. That’s why I didn’t vote for them.
But, they will press, if you had to choose between the two, surely you’d have chosen her! I would not have voted at all if I had only those two to choose from because — and maybe it will help them to read this slowly — I didn’t want either one of them to be president.
I used to believe that, by voting for the lesser of two evils, I could give some sort of feedback to the major parties about what I would like them to do, sort of how consumers can steer product development with their purchasing behaviors. I don’t believe that any more for a lot of reasons, but specifically when it comes to the major parties, I’ve come to the realization that my political views are too extreme to be understood by a single cast every four years.
So, I decided that when I vote, I will either vote for someone that I believe will actually do a GOOD job during their time in office or not vote. That’s it.
And the measure of “good” is not how well non-white, non-straight, non-Christian non-males sleep at night. Being an idealist means I don’t feel bad about sticking to my principles.
I don’t require that a candidate agree with my views completely, though. I’d be willing to vote Republican if they actually supported free markets and minimal government like they say they do. I’d even be willing to vote for a Democrat if they actually supported all the personal freedom and social liberty that they say they do. But I’m no longer accepting probably-wouldn’t-become-a-tyrant-immediately-if-the-opportunity-presented-itself as a adequate evaluation to earn my vote. And that’s how I see the major parties these day.
Both parties have been moving farther and farther away from what I consider the ideal. The Democratic party is becoming more “progressive,” and the Republican party is having a pool party down at the septic tank of populist nationalism and all their pool floats look like a bundle of wooden rods. (Link provided to defend that disgusting and weak metaphor.) From my perspective, both of those options are just terrible.
Let me tell you something else: if you had come to me in 2016 and told me that I had to vote for either Clinton or Trump and I could not abstain, I would have voted for Trump. That’s not because I wanted Trump to win. Like everyone else, I expected Clinton would win, so I would have had to vote against her so that her win would not have happened with my support. The reverse is also true: if Trump were the projected winner and you forced me to vote and vote for either Trump or Clinton, I would have voted for Clinton so that Trump’s win would not be with my vote. Voting for losers in order to avoid being tallied among those who voted for a president that hurt America is an unusual and difficult position for “strategic” voters to understand. Remember: I’m an idealist. I am not a strategic voter in terms of trying to make sure I vote to win.
I am not happy Trump won. As far as I can tell, he’s a terrible human being on top of being a terrible president and he has so little pride that he doesn’t even try to hide those facts. But I would not have been happy if Clinton won, either. My view of her is a bit more nuanced than that of Trump, but I don’t think she’s an especially good person and I dislike her politics.
I am disappointed by who won the presidency, but I am only disappointed in one loss. Unless there was someone who voted for Clinton whose second choice among those running was Trump, everyone else buys this argument that I’m to blame for Clinton’s loss must be mourning at least two, but probably more, losses.
I sleep well at night because I know that Trump did not win with my support. And I also sleep well at night because I know that when I cast my votes, I voted for people that I actually support and not the lesser of two evils.
8/20 – Edits for clarity and grammar