Like you, I have always believed that we should do our duty, hold our noses and vote for whoever the Republican party nominates. The alternative would be to allow a Liberal Democrat in the office.
And also like you, I’ve been increasingly disappointed with the candidates that have gotten the nomination. Politicians that made big promises and proceeded to do little once in office. But I dutifully pulled the lever every time. I believed what I was told, we had to vote for this candidate or someone worse would get into office. I kept choosing the lesser of two evils.
By 2016 many of us were fed up.
Unfortunately, blind anger has led enough GOP voters to support a candidate I cannot, in good conscience, support. I evaluate candidates based on character, competence and core values. I remember when most Republicans felt Bill Clinton had embarrassed the presidency and didn’t have the character traits necessary to be president. Now some of the same ones want me to vote for a man who is apparently (based on his actions and words) just as morally corrupt. One who is not competent, and who does not have conservative core values. I won’t vote for Donald Trump. And I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton.
I have read that saying I won’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is un American. I’ve been told that not voting for Trump is the same as voting for Clinton. I have been reminded there’s no perfect candidate so I must choose Trump. I have been told that if I don’t vote for Trump Clinton will nominate 5 liberal justices. I’ve also been warned that if I vote for a 3rd party candidate we will end up with another Ross Perot situation, where the 3rd party takes votes from the GOP and gives the election to the Democrats.
Hogwash. Let’s take these one by one:
-The 1992 Perot Effect: For my entire adult life I’ve been told that Ross Perot pulled votes away from George H. W. Bush. He is the reason that we got Bill Clinton as a president. I believed this, and have even repeated it.
But it’s not true. I was shocked to discover when doing research for this article that Perot pulled voters away from both parties equally. According to a 1992 New York Times article , Perot pulled 38% of his votes from those who would otherwise vote for Bush. And 38% of his votes from those who would otherwise vote for Clinton. The rest planned to not vote or to vote for someone else. Ross Perot didn’t kill Bush’s chances at the presidency. He also didn’t help Clinton. Let that sit with you for a minute.
Perot did not get Clinton elected. Could a 3rd party candidate draw voters from the Republican candidate? Sure, if Republicans nominate someone that conservatives cannot support, and they leave the party. I have already said that the 35% of primary voters who promised they would never support Trump will be a hard hit to overcome. This should not be a surprise, since millions of us were very vocal about this before Trump became the presumptive nominee. We weren’t joking. #NeverTrump means never.
-5 Liberal SCOTUS Judges: It’s scary to think that the next president may appoint 5 Supreme Court Justices. Our so-called-conservative court gave us same sex marriage and upheld the Affordable care Act. Imagine a court with members selected by a liberal like Clinton. Now imagine a court with member elected by a man without core values. One who has a history of changing his mind and positions on major issues for conservatives. Republicans haven’t done such a great job of selecting SCOTUS justices so far, let’s give a life long liberal the chance to pick some. I mean Trump; he’s a life-long liberal. He’s a very recent convert to conservatism. And he has been so wildly inconsistent, how can anyone know who Trump will nominate? And how can the Republican Congress stop a Republican president from getting his own justice? The Republican congress can’t even stop funding for Planned Parenthood.
Assuming Republicans can keep the Senate and House, would you rather have a bad Clinton nominee voted down, or a bad Trump nominee forced through by the leader of the Republican party? There’s no good solution here. When 40% of Republican primary voters (along with a media which gave over $2 Billion worth of coverage) voted to make Trump the presumptive nominee, we gave up the chance to place actual conservatives on the Supreme court. It’s just degrees of bad now. And this one issue, the chance that Trump might not nominate bad justice does not overshadow how terrible his presidency will be.
Regarding the power of a legislative body made up of 9 unelected judges, I would like to see the Convention of States people keep talking about happen. Part of that process could be to introduce a way for Congress to overturn a SCOTUS decision. Maybe even to set a term limit on sitting justices (as well as Congress). It’s obvious that whether the court is supposed to be conservative or liberal they won’t stop legislating from the bench. I believe we need a few more checks against their balances.
-It’s a vote for Clinton: Not voting for Donald Trump is a vote for Clinton. The logic of this doesn’t work. I could just as easily say a vote for someone besides Clinton is a vote for Trump. That’s obviously untrue. Your vote is for who you vote for.
But what they are really saying is that in order to win, Trump requires all of us to vote for him. It’s a play at guilting us into voting for someone we don’t like. And it’s been successful for decades. Do you want Obama? Vote McCain, vote Romney. But the problem with voting for the lesser of two evils is that you end up with one of the evils.
When candidates are so far from my own core values, I don’t have to vote for them. Do you know why we have a two-party, lesser-of-2-evils system? Because millions of us keep dutifully voting for one of the 2 party candidates, even if we don’t like them.
The real question is do I owe anyone my vote? My answer is no. Candidates must earn my vote. Just as they must earn every vote they get. There will be millions of people who vote Republican to stop Clinton. But that is an individual choice. One of the greatest responsibilities of any American citizen is to vote. It’s how the Republic works. My vote counts. I don’t think my one vote will be the deciding vote between Trump, Clinton or someone else. But my vote counts, and it’s mine to give. If a candidate wants my vote, they must earn it. No party can demand my obedience, especially when I (and millions of others) warned that we would not vote for Trump.
-There’s no Perfect Candidate: Sure. I agree. I don’t expect to find one. But I do expect to find one that comes closer than Clinton or Trump. This time around, the Republican nominee is just too far from what I require in a candidate to be able to vote for them. I understand that line will be different for everyone. But this time the GOP has gone down a path I cannot follow. I won’t find a perfect candidate to vote for, but I will find one that is closer to what I desire in an elected leader.
-Un American: This is just plain wrong. It’s very American to find a candidate you want to vote for. It’s not unpatriotic to reject two candidates that you don’t want elected and go looking for a 3rd. The Constitution did not create the 2-party system. It is not un American to want to see that system broken. To vote is one of the most American things anyone can do, even if they choose not to vote for a Republican or Democrat.
It’s said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Can we hope to stop Clinton or Trump? Perot’s ill fated campaign received almost 19% of the vote, but won no states and earned no electoral votes. He announced in February, and by early Summer he was leading the polls. He bought 30-minute blocks on TV to introduce himself to voters. Mid Summer the wheels came off. He dropped out of the race for over 3 months, He performed poorly later debates, and never regained his position again. The most successful 3rd party run since 1912 was a terrible campaign. And he gathered almost 19% of the popular vote.
A smart 3rd party run would utilize the strategy of winning enough states to prevent either candidate from getting 270 electoral votes. Don’t waste resources in states that you can’t possibly win. Win enough states and the election gets sent to the Republican controlled House. The House must choose from the top 3 candidates. They would either choose Trump or the 3rd party. If Trump, then the 3rd party is in a great position for 2020. If by some chance it’s the 3rd party, then that’s even better.
No matter the result, there is nothing wrong with voting for someone who is not a Republican or a Democrat. Your vote is your own. You owe it to no one. Find a candidate that you want to support.