Yes, we know! We're all tired of hearing about the elections. However, that doesn't make it less important. It's coming to a close this Tuesday, November 8th 2016, and some people are still "on the fence". Not only do they not know who they will vote for, but they don't know if they're even going to vote.
As readers of InnerSelf you've read numerous articles throughout the years about "creating your reality". Well, this is definitely a prime example of that. We have created the reality we're in... some of us by not voting in past elections and by not keeping up with the madness that has been the US Congress for years. Not participating in our democracy makes a difference because of the voices (our voices) that are then missing from the conversation. If the only voices present in the discussion are Big Business, Big Pharma, and too many hate-mongers, then the choices are not only less helpful, they are oftentimes outright harmful.
So in support of creating a reality that is desirable, we would like to offer a look at your choices this election. Our goal is to help our readers reflect on the choices before us, and make the ones that best support the society we want to live in.
Choice #1: Not Voting At All
Yes, not voting is a choice... one that too many Americans have exercised for years. Yet when we let someone else choose our President, our Congress, or other representatives, we empower their choices, not ours.
If you live in a swing state, whether you vote or for whom you vote is important. We learned this the hard way in the 2000 election. We watched 537 votes make the difference while 97,421 people voted for the Green Party nominee Ralph Nader. (And don't get us wrong. We like Ralph Nader. He has done some very good work for this country.) In that same election, we watched Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris disenfranchise 50,000+ mostly Black and Hispanic voters through nefarious means. And add to that, 1,000,000+ Florida voters unable to vote because they had a major or minor felony conviction at some point in their life. So, if they can't vote, at the least we can honor our own right to vote.
Choice #2: Not Voting For President
Some people are planning to vote but have said they will be leaving the spot for President unfilled. But, there again, not choosing is choosing. When you don't choose, you default to the other choice.To put this bluntly, if you don't vote for any Presidential candidate, you're voting for Trump. That's how the numbers add up.
The vote you withhold could be the vote that tips the election one way of the other. In 2000, as we previously mentioned, the Florida recount fell to 537 votes. That's not very many. Those 537 people could have tipped the election away from the Gulf War, from the lack of Federal action about Climate Change, and from the top 1% getting even more tax cuts.
This is not about blame, but about responsibility. We all have a responsibility and a role to play on this planet and this country we call home. Your vote does count, and by participating, yours could be the vote that makes a difference.
Choice #3: Voting for Green Party Jill Stein
Choice #4: Voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson
The Green Party and the Libertarian Party do not have the necessary following at this point to win the election. And even if one of those candidates won the Presidency, they would not have the representation in the House of Congress to push through any reforms. And yes, while it is important to support third parties, in this election it is extremely important to make your vote count if you're living in a swing state.
However we feel about it, the fact is that we will have a President from one of the two major political parties. So rather than not have a say in which party that will be, we need to make the choice that best supports our vision for the future. We have two paths to pick from... and even if neither path is completely appealing, a choice must be made.
Choice #5: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump
Let us disclose that we are Berrniecrats* (Bernie Sanders supporters, for those of you not familiar with the term). Now having to make a second choice, we have distilled it to this. When disagreeing with policy, who would I rather protest against, the Democrat enablers of bad Republican policy or the Republican fear-mongering, authoritarian jackboots? Would we rather our police and homeland security be under or above the law? Do we want the Supreme Court to be stacked with conservative judges that would undo the human rights advances of the past century?
Let's imagine the United States under either of these Presidents and political parties for the next 4-8 years.
In his book "Who Rules the World?" Noam Chomsky identifies the two major threats facing humanity today as "nuclear war" and "climate change". Pulling the nuclear trigger or major inactivity on climate change for even 4 years will be catastrophic for our children and grandchildren. On both these issues Donald Trump fails. He has insinuated that we or our allies should consider using nuclear weapons.
"Leader of the free world" comes with certain responsibilities... and one of those is to weigh choices carefully before making decisions not only when it comes to war and nuclear attacks. Having Hillary as the one who makes a "nuclear decision" feels infinitely more reasonable and safer than an easy-to-fly-off-the-handle Donald Trump.
As we know, the Republican party says they don't believe in climate change, or at the least that mankind has nothing to do with causing it. Trump denies that climate change exists and says publicly it is a hoax created by China. We can most likely assume that he will fill his cabinet and advisors with those who deny climate change for profit. At least Democrats acknowledge climate change, which is the first step in doing something about it.
Another extremely important issue has to do with tax cuts for the wealthy. Having just driven back and forth to Canada twice this year, we've seen first hand that the condition of our infrastructure is appalling. Roads are a conglomeration of potholes, overpasses are rusty, and bridges are seriously in need of repairs. These repairs need tax-funding to take place. When the top 1% (which account for 35% of the country's total income) are not paying their fair share of taxes, then that's a major problem. Do we want to elect the party that keeps touting tax cuts to the rich when our whole infrastructure is crumbling and in dire need of funding for repairs?
When it comes to qualifications or even "having good sense", Hillary Clinton is obviously more qualified to lead a nation. So why does Donald Trump have so much support? Michael Moore summed this up best: It's the Hillary Clinton Vote vs the "F.U." vote. People are tired of politicians and politics as usual, and they have been led to believe that Trump is the solution.
In an editorial entitled "Dear America: Please don’t vote for Donald Trump", The Globe and Mail (UK) wrote: "We can’t believe that given a choice between one mildly flawed candidate and another peddling an explosive combo of bad ideas, no ideas and zero self-control, you’re having trouble choosing."
Perhaps this is because we suffer from the "my team" vs "your team" mentality, wherein some would vote Republican even if Hitler was running for office. This is not to say that blind partisanship doesn't exist on the Democratic side as well. But in this case the Democrats made a reasonable pick for a candidate, and the Republicans picked The Donald. And to top that, Trump plans to turn over domestic and foreign policy to his VP pick Mike Pence while Donald "Makes America Great Again", whatever that means.
For the VP credentials, we need to look at the history of a Pence leadership... and it's not very "people-friendly". And while Tim Kaine has been called a "safe choice", perhaps that's exactly what we need, not a wild-card, and not as Mike Pence called himself as a radio and TV host "Rush Limbaugh on decaf". Given Trump's willingness to turn over the government to his Vice President, voting for Trump is a vote for a repeat of Pence's failed economic policies in Indiana.
Lastly we need a Democratic controlled US Senate. Without it we will most likely have a continuation of our current gridlocked government. In addition there are 95 judicial vacancies mostly blocked by partisan misbehavior or outright sedition. Including the obvious Supreme Court vacancy, these judgeship have the ability to reshape America and the world for a generation.
Sometimes You Gotta Dance with the One That Brung 'Ya
There are major issues with the Democrats as well as Republicans of course. The Democrats are not blameless in the situation the USA finds itself in... yet it does take two to tango, and unfortunately the Republicans have chosen to refuse to dance with the Democrats at all, thus leaving us all watching a fiasco. There is a dance, there is music, but no one is dancing. Some are pouting, others are whining, some are arguing, and nobody is playing well together or having any fun!
Yet since choose we must, let's make a choice that at least keeps the music going and then we can work at getting people to "play nice" and work together. The only way we can make it through this crisis is by keeping the boat afloat even if the Captain is not the one we'd really really want to lead the ship. But at least if the boat is floating, we have a chance to make it to shore.
If we capsize the boat on purpose because we don't like the Captain or the crew, then we're all done for. Let's put aside our differences, our judgments, our "she ain't good enough" and "the whole thing is rigged" attitudes, and choose to keep the boat afloat so we can work on making repairs. Sinking the boat is not a solution.
Conclusion: Voting for the Democrats gives us a bit of an edge on the future, whereas voting Republican is simply throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Cliché? Maybe, but an appropriate one nevertheless. In closing, we urge all Millennials to set aside their protest votes, and instead, cast their vote for the best viable option for the country at this time, the Democratic Party.
* Disclaimer: Our choice is Hillary Clinton for President, and any Democrat for the US Senate.
About the Authors
Marie T. Russell and Robert Jennings are the publishers of InnerSelf Magazine which is in the 32nd year of publication in either print (1984-1995) or online as InnerSelf.com. InnerSelf.com reflects their "life purpose" and desire to "make a difference" in the lives of others.