Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Wasted Vote

As ballots are mailed this week, I thought I would talk about the so-called "wasted vote." While it is true that voting for a third party candidate is unlikely to elect that candidate, and there is also the chance, historically speaking, of ensuring that the least liked of the two major candidates could be elected, I believe that the only wasted vote is the one not cast. It is true that in 2000 that Ralph Nader probably garnered enough votes in Florida to prevent Al Gore, who won the popular vote, from becoming the president in the electoral vote. It is also true that Teddy Roosevelt's third-party run ensured the election of Woodrow Wilson. Still, I believe you should vote regardless of the consequences or spoiler effect. I too have voted for third-party candidates because I believed in them, although one was probably a result of not doing the homework I should have done.

If you don't vote, I feel free to blame you for not making a choice. Your "I don't like any of the candidates" statement is a cheap out for not doing something that very few countries have a right. I disagree with a statement that Mike Rowe made the other day that we shouldn't encourage everyone to vote. In all honesty, such a statement smacks of ideas like the voter tests of the Jim Crow era. Yes, it's true any crack-pot can run, anyone over the age of 18 can vote, and they can, as long as they have no felony convictions, vote. I have no problems with the right to vote. Anyone, from the least intelligent to the most socially inept has that right and he or she should vote. Would I like them all to become informed? Yes. But a false equivalency of voting and gun ownership is not about voting as much as it is about preventing those who don't vote as you do from voting. Encouraging someone to vote is not wrong, even if you disagree with who they are going to vote for. No, Mr. Rowe, involvement with picking the people who will impact your life is important. Encouraging people to become involved is not wrong. There is nothing deep or wise about your statement.

What I find interesting is the selection of who people vote for. Humorist John Oliver recently pointed out that those turning from the major party candidates to the third-party candidates need to consider if they are voting for that candidate or because of the "I am not going to pick from the lesser of two evils" premise. If you are for example choosing Gary Johnson or Jill Stein are you voting for the candidate or are you voting for the candidate's party platform? If you have dismissed Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump because of who they are, then you should be looking at the third-party candidate because of who they are too. 

Take for example the idea that several of the "Feel the Bern" crowd picked Johnson because they don't like Clinton and Libertarians seem more in line with Bernie than Hillary. However, the Democratic Platform is far closer to Bernie's beliefs than that of the Libertarian. If you look at Johnson the candidate, his knowledge of that beyond our borders is seemingly very slim.  It is not just his gaffs of not being able to name a world leader or know about Syria and Aleppo, but as Oliver points out, his domestic program is overly simplistic, and it is also clear he knows very little about what the programs he advocates cutting do. The three programs he mentions in the Oliver video aren't the only ones he wants to cut. In fact, do you know what the candidate actually supports? Here is a list. It's actually a bit away from the Libertarian platform. There are even a few articles around from Libertarians who remind us that both Johnson and his running mate Weld were Republicans not long ago. 

Implementation of the platform is rare. A political platform, be it Democratic, Republican, Green, or Libertarian, is the ideal of the party and often written for the base. Its implementation, however, is a different matter. Jill Stein's belief while sounding noble is also incredibly simplistic in understanding about how budgeting works and her responses are often problematic for someone who wants to be the leader of the free world. If you dismiss one candidate because of who he or she is but accept another based not on the candidate but on the platform of the candidate, you will not get what you are voting for. 

Donald Trump, the candidate, seemed to be quite apathetic to what went in the Republican Platform which is one of the most extreme right platforms ever written. In fact, only one plank of the platform was removed by the Trump campaign and that platform had to do with anti-Putin support for the Ukraine. Oddly enough, Paul Manafort who has since been associated with Russia and the Ukraine was Trump's campaign manager at the time. Other than this, the Trump Campaign, in fact, put very little into the Republican platform. If you want more about Trump, I have a whole blog about his problems which have only grown since I wrote it.

Hillary Clinton has her woes. Despite what the "but Hillary" group would have you believe, there isn't one thing she has been charged for by any organization that has investigated her. The email was a huge mistake, and she has openly admitted that it was and if she were to do it over, she would probably do it differently. She was clearly dependent, technically speaking, on younger staffers. Not an uncommon problem for someone over 60. No, she has never murdered anyone, nor despite claims "viciously attacked" the women of Bill's amorous adventures. As one writer put it, during the investigations, Ken Starr was the Javert of Clinton's affairs and even he failed. Republicans tried to blame Hillary in the 90's and failed. Bill is not on the ticket. 

 Hillary has several problems. I will not dismiss them, but I will also not give credence to over 20 years of innuendo and partisan politics. Hillary has issues. She is both not transparent about her own actions and at the same time perhaps the most vetted candidate in history. She has flipped on a number of issues, and it is unclear if those flip-flops were because she has changed her mind or if she found it politically expedient to do so. Her campaign did negotiate with Bernie's campaign and, as a result, the Democratic platform is one of the most progressive in history. The steady drip of unverified emails from WikiLeaks has proved mostly that the Democratic campaign is political and actually did political things. They actually show little about who Hillary really is. Political? Yep. Calculating? Yep. Welcome to politics, boys and girls. Does Hillary lie? Yep. The problem is that she does it well, except when she doesn't. Hence the trust issue problem. She has been clearly not a progressive, but a centrist in her beliefs. Her public personality is generally not warm and fuzzy. 

We learn from discourse. We learn from something that few countries have the peaceful transfer of power through elections. With that in mind, Trump's current rant about rigged elections is both wrong and dangerous because it goes against all that we believe as a nation. The fact is that we who vote must choose a candidate.  Some will vote for, some against, some strategically, and some blindly. It may be as Oliver states not picking a lesser of two evils, but a picking of a lesser of four evils, or it may boil down to something that is the crucible of American elections, choosing who is the most qualified and most closely aligns to what we hope will happen.  I hope you will pick your candidate carefully. I try to pick mine on ability and how well they might respond to the extraordinary world we live in. In this election, the candidates are far from inspirational. I will try to vote for a candidate who looks forward, not to the past that never existed or one that should have never existed. I will try to vote for the candidate that seems to understand best the complexity of the world. I encourage you to do the same. I will not waste my vote, because...

I will vote.