In an election cycle that sports two of the most unpopular and disliked major party candidates in modern U.S. history, is it any wonder that most rational, free thinking Americans feel flustered?
For months, I myself have struggled with the myriad of terrible possibilities that run the gamut of compulsively voting my party to honorably voting my conscience to pragmatically voting for a 3rd party in the hopes of breaking our corrupt political duopoly to apathetically not voting at all and staying home to binge-watch “The Mindy Project” on HULU. Hey, I said I was apathetic right?
And as I have bounced back and forth between these four truly pitiful options like some kind of manic spider monkey futilely looking for a tree he can call climb in a valley full of metal flagpoles, a terrifying thought struck me deep in the core of my being; no matter who I vote for this election cycle I am a complete hypocrite! Sounds overly dramatic? Let me explain.
For anybody with a half a conscience that has actually thought through the implications of electing an unqualified, crass, and divisive reality TV show charlatan who spends his nights Tweeting insults at celebrities and ex-pageant winners, talks about imprisoning his political opponents and reporters, and is now immersed in a string of despicable sexual assault scandals that makes Bill Cosby look like as pure as a Brazilian Nun, Donald J. Trump would seem like a vote only a complete crazy person would cast.
However, when examining the so-called binary option, Hillary Rodham Clinton, a smug, aristocratic Wall Street Oligarch who has hidden classified emails, been accused of paying off or intimating Government officials and who has a dossier of scandals that reads like the personal journal of Nero, choosing Clinton also seems like the act of a raving lunatic.
So, where do prudent, well-meaning voters go who can no longer toe the increasingly heavy and cumbersome party line? Well, 3rd parties, of course, the escape plan of the dissatisfied voter.
At first Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson seemed like the obvious choice. Early on, Johnson kept himself elevated above all the disgraceful mudslinging and obstinate obstructionism that has made Congress such a hit with the kids. Johnson also hails from a party that has enough social flexibility to appeal to the left who may feel disenfranchised by the Government’s failed drug war, and Anti-Big Government sentiment to send ardent right-wing constitutionalists running for the ballot box to vote “L”.
Unfortunately, it seems Johnson took one too many hits of his own bong to hide his truly bizarre and goofball nature. After the Aleppo incident, his failure to name even one world leader during a Chris Matthews interview and finally his park bench shenanigans that made Jerry Lewis look Presidential by comparison, Johnson has been largely dismissed by Liberals, Conservatives, and Libertarians alike.
One semi-viable candidate still left in the race (if you exclude all the other ridiculous choices like “Deez Nuts” and The Pirate Party), is Dr. Jill Stein. A skilled physician and passionate activist, Stein would seem to many a logical choice, except for the nagging problem that she is only polling at 2 percent, so not also does she have virtually zero chance of winning the Presidency, a vote for Stein does nothing to help 3rd party momentum open up any electoral doors in the future. You would almost be better off writing in Vermin Supreme as neither would have any impact on our broken political system, but at least with Vermin you can say, “I did it for the ponies baby!!!”
So now that you know the players in this sad little comedy of errors, and the pros and cons of each. All choices having more cons than pros, unfortunately, so let’s talk about the moral dilemma that has vexed so many of us this election cycle: How to escape the hypocrisy you will face inside the ballot box.
As a conscientious voter, I personally do not believe any of the above candidates are qualified to lead the free world, or, as The Thunder God Thor may say “I have tested your mettle and found you wanting”. Sorry, I just needed an excuse to quote the Son of Odin! So accepting that there is literally not one person running for President who is qualified for the job puts people like me in a bit of a political pickle.
You see, if I vote Clinton just to stop the megalomaniac Trump, who many believe will burn the world to the ground, then I am stuck with the responsibility of a Clinton administration and all the horrible baggage that comes with it. If I vote Trump just to stop The Clinton Dynasty from once again reigning supreme, propelling us further into Plutocracy, then I am unleashing an unstable man-child on the world, an option so disturbing that my fingers recoiled in horror as I was typing this.
If I vote Johnson, I have the same problem I would have in voting for Clinton, I don’t believe the candidate is qualified and would only be voting for him to make a political statement, and not because I truly believe he is the best candidate for the job. So now we are back to if I am just casting a protest vote, then why not protest vote for Clinton because at least she is actually in the game?
Let’s move on to Stein, the person I find least unqualified for the position of U.S. President. This would be a great vote but since it is a zero sum decision, then voting my conscience is as pointless as writing in Sanders or Kasich, both of whom I honestly believe would make remarkable leaders.
Now, let’s talk about writing in the person you believe most suited for the position. Many would say, “Hey- go big or go home”. If you’re going to vote your conscience then fucking vote you’re conscience and write in the person you feel is most qualified to lead us regardless if they are running or not! The only problem with this little game of self-placating integrity is that most states toss write-in votes in the garbage without so much of a glance, so forget an actual tally.
So then, here is my electoral paradox. If I write in Kasich, who won’t get tallied, then I might as well vote Stein who will. But if I vote Stein I am not truly voting my conscience, only making a political statement and if I am going to do that then why not vote Johnson who may get enough 3rd party votes to restructure the electoral map in 2020. However, if this is not about conscience and only about voting to make a political statement or to change the system, then what better way to make a statement than to vote against the person, in this case, Trump, who you believe is such a threat to our Democracy that allowing him to win may lead to America’s very first Hunger Games? And staying home on election day? Well let’s face it- not voting at all is just a dick move.
And there you have it, the perplexing political rubicon this horrid election cycle has left us with. As a person who values integrity and logic-based decisions, this cycle has me feeling a bit like the robots that Mr. Spock defeated by creating a logic loop so convoluted and sinister the androids’ heads exploded out of pure logistic frustration!
Vote my party regardless of my conscience? Vote my conscience regardless of my party? Vote for no one to prove we have no one to vote for? Or Vote in protest, even though we all know that protest will be heard by no one? No matter the vote, there is no escaping the cold hard reality that this election day I will walk out of that voting booth a full-fledged hypocrite.