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I’m Not Going to Choose Evil

As long as we continue voting for evil, we will continue getting evil. I am not voting for evil. I am not voting for Hillary Clinton. And I am not voting for Donald Trump. And let the chips fall.

boxer fearing

If you are a parent you know or even if you’re not you can imagine that it sometimes takes creative sleight of hand to get your kids to do what they have to do in order to function in the scenarios we place them in, like school. For example, I would imagine that most schools require students to wear shoes and socks, but many children, maybe most, would rather not. And children can be stubborn. If you choose for them what they are going to wear they can rebel, making it difficult to move them forward. So if you were to pick out a pair of blue socks for the child to wear and she protested, you might offer a pair of red socks and tell them they have a choice. You can see this is not a real choice, the kid is going to wear socks, and they are going to wear the socks you give them, but the illusion of choice diffuses the situation. The kid complies.

This scene is analogous to the current state of our so-called democracy. The two-party system has become so embedded in our politics that we can’t imagine life without it. But the two party system consistently fails to produce candidates that appeal to more than a fraction of the population. The rest are left with the unpalatable task of choosing “the lesser of two evils.”

This is relevant today because as the 2016 primary season comes to an end the two major political parties in the United States are poised to nominate as candidates for President historically corrupt and unqualified candidates. Both of these candidates have fervent supporters, but they only represent a fraction of the population. Most of us are left to decide either to vote for a candidate we really dislike, or to forego the election altogether.

The 2016 election is singular only in how comparably awful the choices are. The “lesser of two evils” scenario is so common it is the default situation for most voters. That might explain the low rate of voter participation in the United States. A Pew Research Center report from 2015 shows that of all eligible voters only slightly more than half are even registered to vote. That places the United States fourth from last in voter turnout in 34 OECD countries.[1] This is the country that introduced representative democracy to the modern world; that has always held democracy central to its national identity; the country that has sacrificed millions of lives for the right to vote.

A much overlooked fact relative to this situation is that the way our elections are conducted is mostly extra-constitutional. The Constitution doesn’t make any provision for political parties. For the most part the methods of election, particularly in regards to the election of President, are left up to the States. And even though the way we conduct our elections is codified into law (much to the frustration of Bernie Sanders supporters), there is nothing in the Constitution that would prevent our restructuring the franchise in a way that provided better representation of the popular will.

But that is a topic for another time. What I’m really thinking about here is this “lesser of two evils” situation. For many years I chose not to vote in Presidential elections because I have long believed (and still believe) that if I don’t have something to vote for I shouldn’t vote. Voting is election – choice. My vote is my choice. It doesn’t make sense for me to choose what I don’t want. It’s that simple. When Barack Obama ran for President in 2008 I felt I finally had a Presidential candidate that represented my values. Not exactly of course but enough to make me excited about the prospect of an Obama Presidency.

With Obama now completing his lame duck term I was again faced with the prospect of no choice until Bernie threw his hat into the ring. Anyone who has taken the time to learn about Bernie Sanders (I mean do research, not listen to establishment pols and the MSM) knows that he is almost unique in American politics. He is honest, consistent, humble, and deeply cares about justice. He is a once in a lifetime (if that) candidate. I don’t agree with every one of his positions, but I believe he embodies the true progressive American spirit more than any candidate in nearly a century. It now seems fairly clear that he is not going to be allowed to win. We played the game by their rules, such as they are, and we lost.

Although the discourse between the candidates in the Democratic primaries has been mostly civil, the discourse between their supporters has not. I’m sure there’s plenty of blame to go around but what remains at the forefront of my recollection is the picture of Barbara Boxer flipping me off. Of course, she didn’t flip me off, but she flipped off Bernie supporters who were angry because they had just watched an election being stolen. So by proxy then, she flipped me off.

Now, I can understand this. In the heat of battle, we tend to be less than civil. What I find odd enough to be almost comical, though, is that now that the contest seems to be settled, the very group that vilified us and our candidate, the ones who stiff-armed us and flipped us off, expect us to support their candidate. I for one never thought Hillary Clinton was Presidential material, and after watching her in action for the last six months I am even more convinced of that, if it were possible. But I am presented with the argument that while she may have her faults (indeed, she has many), she is at least better than Trump. We Bernie supporters are told if we don’t throw our weight behind Hillary, Trump might win. And then it will be our fault.

I really don’t like to use this kind of language in my writing but folks that’s just plain bullshit. If Trump wins the election it will not be because Bernie supporters refused to support Hillary, it will be because the DNC and the Democratic Party establishment were incapable of offering a candidate who deserves my support.

As long as we continue voting for evil, we will continue getting evil. I am not voting for evil. I am not voting for Hillary Clinton. And I am not voting for Donald Trump. And let the chips fall.

[1] Drew Desilver, “U.S. Voter Turnout Trails Most Developed Countries,” Pew Research Center, May 6, 2015, accessed June 10, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/06/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries/.

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