Protest vote at our peril

Nov 2, 2016 at 10:22 am
Protest vote at our peril

The main narrative of the 2016 election is how distasteful America finds the two major candidates for president.

It takes only a quick stroll around social media, or the grocery store, to hear how some people plan to vote for a third-party candidate — or not vote at all — to preserve their conscience.

Just stop!

Please understand that taking this route to assuage your crisis of conscious will jeopardize the future of America and maybe even civilization. That does sound dire, but — Donald Trump!

I understand the dilemma, and it is your right to create your own candidate criteria.

I discovered this in 2008 while campaigning on Election Day morning with my dad outside of a McDonald’s on Broadway. A black man who was homeless, or down on his luck at best, approached. My dad, running for re-election to Congress, greeted the man and encouraged him to vote, both for him and Barack Obama. The man said he had voted for my dad but not for Obama.  “Because this country was founded by white men, and I believe it should be run by white men.”

So, I respect your right to vote for whomever you choose and to base your vote on your own accord. If you want to vote for Trump because he’s a businessman, or because he’s a white man, that is your right. If you want to vote for Clinton because she’s immensely qualified, or just because she’s a woman — totally fair. If you want to vote against both — fine.

But if you are going to abstain, or vote for a third-party candidate, please consider what you risk. If you stay away from the polls because you supported Bernie Sanders and think he was cheated, you risk that Trump will win, and you will have no say in down-ticket races.

Clinton is not a lock to win, especially after recent developments. And polls are often wrong. Remember, leading up to Election Day last year, the polls predicted that Matt Bevin was not within striking distance of Jack Conway. But Conway voters didn’t show up, and now we have our own Kentucky Trump.

And if you vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson as a protest, then consider the impact of the policies he would enact — and if that is something you can square with your conscience.

Johnson has no handle on any issues beyond criminal and social justice, and some civil liberties. Beyond that, Johnson is bereft of any basic international policy understanding. And much of his domestic ideology is simplistic and ignorant.

But that is the problem with much of the libertarians — their dream of utopia may sound good, but in practice it would be more dystopian.

Smaller government sounds good. But the book “The Gardens of Democracy,” the answer to libertarianism and “limited government” explains: “If minimalist government worked, Somalia would be rich, stable and secure and Canada would be a hellhole […] In the comfort of a think tank in a country with air-conditioning and running water, to say nothing of the rule of law, it is very easy for American right-wing libertarians to pontificate about slashing government to the bone.”

Yes, Clinton is a moderate, establishment Democrat, and Trump is pulling the biggest con in American political history.

So Johnson is your alternative?

He wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency and departments of Education, Commerce and Housing and Urban Development. He clearly doesn’t understand the core functions they serve. For instance, the commerce department includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — as in, the people who warn us about hurricanes.

Or how about our own Libertarian, Sen. Rand Paul? He wants most of the aforementioned agencies abolished and also the Office of Nuclear Energy, which helps make sure terrorists do not get nuclear material.

The point is, I understand the frustration, and empathize with the strong desire to find two new candidates. But a protest vote is what led to Britain leaving the European Union. Should your votes — cast in the interest of preserving your conscience — lead to the election of Donald Trump, we will all have much graver concerns than your purity.