You are presented with a clear and immensely consequential decision: You vote for Hillary Clinton, or you make any number of decisions like voting for Stein, Johnson, or not at all. These secondary options only help Donald Trump, a categorically ignorant, sexist, and racist tool masquerading as a reform candidate. What this country needs right now is not bullshit idealism for what our politics should be, but rather a recognition of the realities of the current system.
A vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson is a worthless protest vote because they are genuinely awful candidates. Their knowledge of government policy and world politics in general is sub-par. A vote for them is nothing more than an apathetic whine over the status quo. The time for griping about the need for better third parties or genuine reform candidates like Sanders is over. To make institutional change, we must care about politics for more than a couple of weeks every few years. Our imperfect political process now presents you with a choice of two, whether or not you can accept that.
Not voting at all, for whatever reason, is making the statement that you do not care who wins the presidency. In the real world, presented with two choices, one of which will absolutely happen, your instant reaction cannot be to bury your head in the sand. How is it not cowardice to choose abstention? How is it not lazy and strong-headed to think that because a candidate is imperfect, that you cannot choose a preference for him or her as one of two absolute outcomes which will dramatically impact public policy? We are not asked in our political reality to choose perfection or agree with everything a candidate stands for in order to make an educated decision. It is impractical to think you will be inspired by every politician that stands before you. What world do you live in where that will ever be the case?
As John Oliver highlighted in a segment on Clinton controversies, the corrupt monster she has been portrayed as doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Her most damning “scandals,” are at worst, irritating. She is the most heavily vetted politician in American politics, and despite dozens of investigations and media spotlights onto supposed Clinton corruption or criminal activity, they have turned up nothing. She and her husband are put in positions which (constantly) create the possibility of a conflict of interest, but never seem to actually cross the line into something truly scandalous, illegal, or sinister. The mere existence of a decades long witch hunt for Clinton wrongdoings has created a very popular perception that they are true.
Being a cynic about American politics is lazy because it is so easy. It’s easy to buy into a narrative that Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame for our current political dysfunction. It’s a journalistic impulse to give credence to all sides and look fair and reasonable. But anyone paying attention will note that the Republican Party has waged war on effective government since Obama’s election in a zero sum game to get their way. The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower is broken. Donald Trump is nothing more than the Frankenstein product of that broken Republican party. He embodies the modern Republican spirit without the faux pretense of respectability, literally saying anything he feels like regardless of the facts. His racism, misogyny, and extreme vanity embody the very worst elements of fringe society, all under the guise of an “anti-establishment” figure because he is a sleezy and corrupt con-artist of a supposedly successful businessman rather than a life long politician.
I disagree with today’s Republican Party on basically everything. They don’t address climate change; they still believe in trickle down economics; they don’t believe in a woman’s right to choose; etc. However, those terrible policy ideas are within the normal parameters of being wrong. Reasonable people can argue over the nuance of real issues, which is how traditional debates go. I will never chastise someone for having opposing viewpoints on real issues, but Trump isn’t that. Legitimate grievances with Clinton or the Democrats are not given credibility by supporting him. He has constantly proven he either has absolutely no idea what he is talking about or is a pathological liar, and that he cannot reign in his disgusting personality to make a fitting head of state. And he doesn’t give a shit, because he believes he is above the serious and real work that governing requires. I cannot respect the thinking that just because the political system might need reform, that it requires a shake up from someone as dangerously unprepared, unstable, and intellectually unfit as Donald Trump is.
I cannot be too harsh in saying the only reason someone couldn’t be totally ashamed by supporting Trump is if they, like Trump, are living in an alternate reality which disregards objective facts and decency, or despite all the evidence have been convinced that Hillary Clinton’s flaws or emails are scandalous and worthy of selling the soul of our democracy in favor of the unapologetically ignorant world that Trump represents. Fuck the false equivalency comparisons of Trump and Clinton. This is not a case of two equally flawed candidates. If you cannot tell the difference between the two, you have not been paying attention. Clinton is incredibly qualified in terms of experience and public service, regardless of whether you think that service was good, while Donald Trump has never engaged in any sort of public service and has demonstrated he is horrifically unqualified in every possible way at every possible opportunity. Suggesting they are equally bad demonstrates a dangerous lack of critical thought at a time when so much is at stake.
Trump is very unlikely to win the presidency. The electoral math isn’t there for him. But we should worry that by anything but a fifty state sweep for Clinton, our country gives the appearance of only half-heartedly condemning the unabashedly disgraceful dogma that Trump embodies as he vies for an office he isn’t fit to vacuum. The fact that the Republican Party put Trump this far is a national embarrassment.
Not voting for Clinton this election is professing an indifference to the acidity of Trumpism in all of its pure sexist, racist, and uninformed pride. Voting for Trump because you don’t like the political system is akin to treating an infection by ingesting disinfectant. This is an election where you don’t have to like Clinton to vote for her. She is far from perfect. The only calculus necessary is the common sense to see that she is by far the only reasonable choice on the ballot for public policy and global stability, and for giving a shred of dignity back to women, minorities, and everyone else that Trump denigrates. The duty to vote against Trump is beyond routine partisan politics. This election is a test to prove US conservatism is more than a cheap trick. This election is about whether the United States has any vestige of dignity and sanity. Go vote and get this nightmare over with.