#OurWorld: Don’t Waste Your Vote

Sam av

At this stage of the USA’s 2016 election, you’re likely to be in one of these groups:

  • Still holding on for Bernie
  • So fucking done with everything
  • Grudgingly voting for Trump or Clinton
  • Flirting with the idea of voting Third Party
  • Praying for a miracle
  • Standing beneath the sky with your hands like claws in the air, screaming “WHYYY?”
  • Fantasy planning a permanent move to a foreign country

Unfortunately, no matter which category you’re in at this point, you’re probably fielding a whole mess of bullshit, ala the proverbial fan that flings it. Someone’s using shouty capitals or calling you names telling you that you’re wrong and should agree with them.

Before I begin to dissect an old argument, I want to preface it with this:

If you’re already planning on voting because you wholeheartedly feel a certain way, meaning you actually LIKE Trump or Clinton or you fully support a third party candidate, or you’re so done that you’re perfectly fine with throwing away your vote to write-in “Boaty McBoatface” just to say you voted, please take what I say with a grain of salt. My intention here is not to provide you with yet another vitriolic onslaught to force you to agree with me. As always, my intention is only to provoke thought. It’s the truth we each have for ourselves that matters at the end of the day. Your vote is your vote. You’re the one who has to live with the decision you make…but, decide, one way or the other.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…!

The one common denominator of all of the categories above is that most of us, the grand majority of us, are disgusted with our nominees. Keep your reasons to yourself…we’ve all heard it, and we’ve all made up our minds already as to who gets to claim the glorious title of “Lesser than Two Evils.”

Wow. What a way to win an election. “I only marginally hate you less than the other person, so you win by default because I think I’d rather see America char itself to a crisp than be murdered by Death Star. At least a charred earth is one we can rebuild.” Note the sarcasm, mmk? Thanks.

The problem is, we keep dropping ourselves in this trap. The Democrats pick a horse and the Republicans pick a horse. Neither of them are awesome so we end up picking the one we dislike the least. The Democratic Party has changed, though, as has the Republican Party. We’re just used to the way things are. By now, we’ve decided who the villains are. Blue hates Red, Red hates Blue. Democrats will vote for Democrats, and Republicans will vote for Republicans. Voting across party lines is…unthinkable.

But after all this time, the choices seem more bleak every time an election rolls around. The Democrats have no reason to change. All they have to do to win is to NOT be a Republican. The Republicans are the same…they only have to point fingers at the Democrats, and voila! Someone goes up on a stage with a microphone and makes outrageous promises, tears down their opponent, and whomever does better at the game wins the Presidency.

It’s fucking awful.

Throughout my relatively short lifetime of twenty-eight years, I’ve learned to despise politics.

(quote credit: Larry Hardiman)

And now, because of this wild and crazy election cycle and the general exposure of corruption deep in the American government, I realized something important. Not talking about politics because it’s uncomfortable is what got us into this predicament in the first place. Choosing not to debate with someone who disagrees with you means that your convictions are never challenged for truth. Diverse viewpoints initiate new ideas. We find compromise and understanding. We grudgingly accept that we might not always be right.

It’s important.

So I no longer back down from a debate (unless I am legitimately worn out, in which case bowing out is good for everyone involved).

So here’s today’s debate:

It’s November 8, 2016. Trump vs. Clinton. Who are you going to vote for?

First problem: It’s NOT just Trump vs. Clinton. It’s Trump vs. Clinton vs. Stein vs. Johnson vs. a list of other Presidential candidates that don’t have access to enough electoral votes to win.

Who are these other candidates? Gary Johnson is the nominee of the Libertarian Party, whose philosophy consists mainly of freedom from overregulation. Jill Stein is the nominee of the Green Party, which is a far-left party focused on threats to the planet and people.

Currently, the polling for all parties is as follows:

CANDIDATE VOTE%
Hillary Clinton 43
Donald Trump 37
Gary Johnson 11
Jill Stein 4

If any candidate gets 15% of the vote in several nationally recognized polls, they gain access to the Presidential debate stage. That means they’d be on stage with Trump & Clinton, presenting opposing viewpoints to a huge audience of Americans. It would be the first time for most Americans that they will be told they have four choices instead of two.

The problem with that is that so many Americans believe that a third party can never win. The problem with that is that nearly half of registered voters are neither Democrat NOR Republican. They’re actually independents. Independent voters are the largest voting bloc in America right now at 43%.

The other thing that isn’t taken into account is that Trump and Clinton are the worst nominees in history for BOTH parties. In a Fox News poll published on Aug 3, 61% of respondents said they did not trust Hillary Clinton, while 62% said the same of Donald Trump. A whopping 60%+ of respondents do not trust either candidate.

60% of Americans don’t like the candidates.

43% of Americans are beholden to neither party.

Yet there are people who continue to hammer home the point that a Third Party can never win.

Why?

Because there have been times in the past when candidates have been considered ‘spoilers.’ In elections, a spoiler is someone who has a platform similar to another, which splits the voters two ways and generally causes the majority-holding candidate to lose the election to the opposing philosophy.

Yes, spoilers exist. But to compare this election to any that came before is to deny the truth we have already seen this year. This election year is like no other election year that has ever, ever happened. There’s an unprecedented level of interest, an unprecedented level of hate for the frontrunners, and an unprecedented number of Americans who are so fed up with both parties that they want more options. 

Real change does not happen all at once. Do I think it’s possible for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein to win this election? Absolutely. Do I think it’s likely? No.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that our country’s vision for America has shifted, and the two major parties have not. They continue to serve their own interests (*coughcough* MONEY *cough*) and forcing terrible candidates down our throats. They have no reason NOT to, because we keep letting them do it.

If we don’t vote for our interests, our interests receive no representation in government. Remember that old quote? It’s a good one:

“Taxation without representation is tyranny.” -James Otis

If we siphon enough of the vote away from these clearly poor choices to lead our government, we can take our first step in the right direction. Us fickle Americans are more likely to back a candidate we think can win (which is a stupid way to make decisions, if you were to ask me). If we can start to move the needle in the direction that America needs to go, rather than the direction our shitty parties are taking us, maybe we can present a shinier case for the future.

If you think Trump and Clinton are both bad for America, the best way you can say that is to not vote for them. A vote for Stein or Johnson is a vote for Stein or Johnson. It’s not a vote for Trump or for Clinton. Let the minority of people who voted for them in the primaries squabble over which of the nominees is a worse candidate. We didn’t select them. We aren’t forced to back them. Let’s be better than this.

The primaries barred millions of Americans from having their voices heard. Independents weren’t allowed to vote in many states (New York, for example), but nothing is stopping them from casting a vote in November.

I had decided a long time ago that I cannot support Trump or Clinton. Neither one of them is what America needs. Clinton says one thing and does another. Trump is…well, he’s Trump. I’m not going on the record books as supporting either of them. Furthermore, I believe this was all a highly corrupted, rigged election in which we never really had a choice in the first place, but I’ll get into that argument again another day. The last thing I’m going to do is put my name down in support for the person who denied America the President that it does need, and instead throw my support behind the woman who is ready to fight for his values.

Her name is Jill Stein.

A vote for the things that you want is never a wasted vote. That line of thinking is the psychological foundation for abuse. So don’t waste your vote. You deserve better.

We all do.


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

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About oneofthedragons

Samantha K. Balk and F. R. Donaldson met on An Archive of Our Own, one of the many fanfiction sites online, when Sam asked Frankie to illustrate the fanfiction that would one day lead to Sam's first novel. They've been friends ever since! This blog was created as a way to share the oftentimes difficult journey any new author experiences on the uncomfortable quest of an introvert for attention to his or her most personal work. It is meant to remind you that authors don't just appear fully fledged like a George R. R. Martin, that all of us start out unsure and feeling inadequate. Feel free to ask us anything. Sam: sammykaye9@gmail.com Frankie: reluctant.fraggle@gmail.com

Posted on August 17, 2016, in #OurWorld and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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