Monday, October 10, 2016

The Case for Voting Third-Party, and Why It’s Not Throwing Your Vote Away

It seems to be a popular idea right now that a vote for a third party, like Evan McMullin or Gary Johnson, is either throwing your vote away, or a vote for Hillary. I’d like to present the case for why a vote for a third party isn’t throwing your vote away, and in fact, is actually a wise choice.
This election is about more than who will be the next POTUS. I think we can all agree that no one wants either candidate to win. There are some who optimistically point out that a third party candidate just might mean blocking Clinton or Trump from reaching the needed 270 electoral votes, sending the race to the House and Senate to decide for us. (I have nothing against this happening. In fact, I like it and not-so-secretly hope it happens, just for the historic nature of the event. I honestly don’t know who the House would pick in that event, so I’m cautiously optimistic.)
The reason I encourage everyone to “vote their conscience” is because the president is only one person, one job. If you vote for Trump, you send the message to the House and Senate that you support his platform. If you do support him, that’s great. Maybe you’ll win. But if you vote for Trump, and you don’t actually support his platform, you still have sent a message to the rest of the lawmakers that you support that platform. Is that a message you really want to send?
Or would you prefer to send a message to those other parties that actually represents your beliefs? Your one vote may not be all that significant in the big picture. But in that smaller picture, the one that breaks down demographics and geography, and shows what people in your district or demographic believe, you have the chance to send a loud message.
Over the weekend, as Trump was flailing about in the wake of his own misogyny, Paul Ryan held a phone call with other party members. He allegedly released them from any obligation to support Trump. He told them to “do what’s best for you and your district.” I read that loud and clear as the right time for me to stand up and make sure that my representative and senator know what matters to me.
I can’t control the outcome of the presidency. But I can make sure that the legislative branch and the media know just how many people are not represented by the mainstream candidates. Because that is the first true step to reform- when people stand up and make their voices heard.
Several third party candidates have been disruptors and effective change agents. Whether or not you agree with his politics, Ralph Nader has very successfully managed to get his platform noticed while running as a third party. Gary Johnson has effectively raised awareness of the Libertarian platform (which is about more than legalizing pot). Theodore Roosevelt was another very notable and effective third party candidate.
Your vote matters because it sends a message about the direction you want this country to go in. I for one do not want anyone to ever get the idea I support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I want to send the message that I believe in immigration reform that allows for a kinder, gentler approach on the path to citizenship. I want to make it clear that I welcome refugees with welcome arms. (And that I believe every statistic Donald Trump, Fox News, and Breitbart has ever offered about refugees to be 100% fiction.) I believe in a strong military, and even stronger cybersecurity. (And let’s not forget that when asked about cybersecurity, Donald Trump’s answer was about how his 10 yr old son uses lots of apps.) I am okay with higher taxes, because higher taxes mean more money for education, welfare, and the military. (I am taxed at a much higher rate than anyone else reading this because I am a single, with a decent income, and no dependents, and no mortgage.) I support Hillary Clinton in her efforts to reform higher education tuition. I absolutely do not want to build a wall between the US and Mexico. I believe strongly in providing foreign aid. (Something I am sure will disappear under Trump.) And I am modern and smart enough to know that abortion is an important topic, but also one already decided by the Supreme Court. In other words, I don’t care what current candidates’ views are on the subject.
Because we will not be happy with either candidate winning the White House, it is more important than ever to send the message to the world what it is you believe in. Make sure your local representatives know what you think, and will represent your views in Congress.
Are you loyal to a party name? Loyal to the candidate that fronts that name? Or are you loyal to your personal beliefs? Which message do you want to send to the world?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Vote Your Conscience!

This election season has brought out more emotions, vitriol, and accusations than any other election cycle in modern U.S. memory. 
As I watch the country bicker and slander each other, something stands out at me- how grateful I am to live in a country where we have the freedom to speak our minds and to vote. And that despite the general unhappiness among the people in this election cycle, we do not fear a coup in our government. We have rarely ever been so split as a country, and yet we know that regardless of the outcomes of election day, that we will not be in a civil war the next day. That is a blessing and gift many other countries cannot claim.
My loyalties are to my country and my personal beliefs. I am not loyal or subject to a particular ruler, candidate, or political party. We are all always free to vote in a private setting where we can choose to vote our conscience. We are not pressured or forced to vote for an unfair ruler in a sham and insult to democracy. No one except for you will know who you voted for. And we will never be punished for our vote. This right and ability to always vote our conscience is one of the greatest gifts we have as Americans.
Our Founding Fathers made the choice to set up our country as a republic, and not a straight democracy. We get to cast our personal vote, but then our votes are represented in the Electoral College. In recent months, the Electoral College has received more attention than usual. People have argued that it is an antiquated and redundant system. But today as I think more about the freedom to vote your conscience in private, the more I respect the Electoral College.
Consider this for one moment. If the electoral representatives had reason to suspect that certain demographics had been forced to vote for a tyrant or dishonest figure, and not get to vote their conscience, the Electoral College could choose to override the dishonest votes, and instead vote with the true will of the people. The Electoral College is a simple concept that in good years may seem pointless or redundant. But in the event of a bad year, this seemingly inconsequential procedure could truly be the thing that protects our ability to vote our conscience.
I have considered leaving my personal endorsement and announcement of who I will vote for here. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that by choosing to do so, I will lessen my point above. Your vote is your personal choice. You can vote for who you believe in, no matter who that person is. You are not restricted by party names or labels. We all have the ability to vote without fear of punishment or repercussion. So my personal endorsement does not matter, but my vote does. Just like yours.
Go out and vote. Vote your conscience, because you can!