The Burden of Americanism

I voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary. She lost. In the 2008 and 2012 elections, I voted for Barack Obama. In the 2016 primary, I swung hard for Bernie Sanders. He is a man I’ve respected for as long as I’ve been politically aware. I promoted his message, his campaign, and I brought people over to the Sanders’ camp. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary. He lost.

It disheartened me beyond words. I felt like we had a narrow window of opportunity to elect someone truly different, someone with ideas that reflected a progressive – even LIBERAL – outlook and a better future for America. We had that window, and we missed it. We missed it because Sanders got almost zero media coverage well into the primary. We missed it because the DNC stacked the deck against a candidate they saw as an outsider. We missed it because an insurgency campaign against as powerful and well recognized a candidate as Hillary Clinton was the longest of long shots even without all of those other factors.

There are a lot of Sanders voters who, over the course of the primary, have come to have a very negative opinion of Hillary Clinton. And now that Sanders is out of the race, their frustration and mistrust of her is causing them to investigate third party options, in the forms of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. They see the two party system as inherently unfair, completely corrupt, and they refuse to take part in it. They are unwilling or unable to cast their votes for someone they see in such a negative light.

I’ve long agreed with the belief that there needs to be a third (and maybe even a fourth) political party in this country. If you’re considering voting third party this election, I’d like to ask you where the FUCK you have been for the past sixteen years. No, seriously. Where have you been? Have you been promoting and campaigning for your local Green or Libertarian candidates? Who ran for your town council on those tickets? Your mayor? State legislature?

There are over half a million elected offices in the United States government. Without Google, can you name ten candidates in a third party that holds one of those offices? Can you name ten that you’ve definitely voted for? For the overwhelming majority of you, the answer is no. But some of you think that a candidate whose party controls (effectively) zero percent of the government and whose candidate is either polling below the numbers needed to participate in the debates (Johnson) or below the numbers for the fucking margin of error (Stein) is going to win the White House?

Maybe if you’d started a decade and a half ago. Maybe if everyone so willing to cast their Presidential ballot for a third party candidate had volunteered, organized, phone banked, donated, and put genuine effort into building their local third party option up. Maybe a third party candidate could win the White House in your lifetime. In your lifetime. And if that’s what you want to see, I suggest you invest your efforts and your passions in that cause, because it certainly is worthwhile.

But at three months away from a general election for the President of the United States, in an election where you couldn’t even get Bernie Sanders through the gauntlet in one of the major parties, the notion that voting for a third party candidate is an effective use of your vote is literally fucking insane. The only message it’s going to send (when that third party candidate takes zero electoral votes and a single digit percentage of the popular vote) is that it’s worth the Democrats’ time to get Libertarians on the ballot and the GOP’s time to get Greens on the ballot. Same as it ever was.

It’s way too little, way too late. You don’t build a pyramid from the apex down, you don’t put a roof on a house before you’ve laid the foundation, and you don’t take the Presidency with a political machine that literally cannot get elected dog catcher. You don’t have to like any of those things, but they are none the less true.

You also don’t have to like Hillary Clinton, but you do have to vet your sources. When I see dyed in the wool liberals extolling her vices based on editorials they’ve read on Brietbart or the National Review or Fox Fucking News, it completely blows me away. Are you going to start linking me to Alex Jones next? How biased is too biased? I know the primary was rough, but there’s a difference between walking away hurt and walking away butthurt.

And you may argue that simply voting for the lesser of two evils is no longer acceptable. I agree with you, in concept. I don’t like it either. But all that is left to chose between are two (relative) evils, because your eleventh hour, hail mary, stamp your feet and buck the system candidate has the same chance of becoming President as I do. There are 100 days left until the election. Gary Johnson would have to gain 0.5% in the polls every day from now until then to claim victory. Stein, even more so.

Your choice of who to vote for is anyone. Your choice of who your next President will be is Clinton or Trump. That’s all there is. When the lesser evil loses, the greater evil wins. If half of the room is voting to drink bleach, and half the room is voting to drink soda, you don’t vote to drink water because water is better for you. You vote to not drink fucking bleach.

Still, like I said, you don’t have to like Hillary Clinton. But you do have to disregard this nonsense that she is “as bad as” Trump. She is not. No one who has ever made a serious run for President in my lifetime is as bad as Trump. This isn’t just a party lines argument. I’d vote for Mitt Romney over Trump. I’d vote for Richard Nixon’s corpse over Trump. I’d vote for Dick Cheney. Dick. Fucking. Cheney.

Forget the basic reality that Trump’s vision for America is the antithesis of everything the Sanders campaign was reaching for. Forget that his policies, if they actually exist, are all over the board and constantly contradictory. Forget that he thinks it’s a good joke to tell a reporter that his daughter is so hot he’d totally bang her. Or maybe schlong her?

He is a megalomaniacal, thin skinned, completely batshit insane crackpot of the highest order. He is too fucking dangerous to be let anywhere near a nuclear arsenal. You may think Clinton is a sociopath (I suspect that anyone who actually wants to be President is screwed in the head in some way), but she’s a cool headed sociopath, at least.

Trump has one level of outrage, that level is 11, and he is absolutely sure he has never been wrong, ever, in his entire life. That’s not a recipe for leadership and you know it. What you get with Hillary Clinton is a less charming Barack Obama. From a policy standpoint (drones and all) they are virtually the same candidate. What you get with Trump is a tantrum throwing man-child with a perpetual chip on his shoulder and an itchy finger on the launch button.

You need to get over the precious notion that your ballot is some special little snowflake. It isn’t. It’s not you, it’s not your belief system, it’s not the embodiment of everything you are. It’s not even a political statement unless you run around afterward telling everyone about it. You’re not a culture warrior. You’re not the reef that breaks the tide. Voting for a third party is the crossfit of voting. No one gives a fuck but by god you’re going to tell them.

What I’m going to say next is going to sound “white man’s burden-y” and that’s just too bad because it happens to be true. We are Americans. We are one of if not the most influential and powerful nation on Earth. Certainly from a military perspective, no one else even comes close. Swings in our economy ripple out and affect the entire rest of the world on a magnitude that dwarfs other nations. There is a reason that our Presidential election is covered in other countries much more substantially than the reverse. We have a responsibility to not put a mad man in charge. Not because other countries need us, not because they look to us for guidance, and not because we know better. Because when we have bad leadership, other people suffer.

Sixteen years ago, roughly 100,000 people in Florida decided they could not stomach the indignity of voting for a candidate they disliked in order to stop the ascension of a candidate they loathed, and as many Iraqi children burned for their petulance.

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