I don’t want Donald Trump to be our next president, but I am not going to tell people who to vote for; ever.
I have noticed and can really sympathize with a lot of liberals bristling at being told at this point in the Democratic primary that they better line-up behind whoever the Democratic challenger is, no matter what, come November. While this is pretty understandable sentiment for people to have, and my good friend and partner here at Modern Liberals, Manny Schewitz, recently made some very good points about his own support of Hillary should Bernie not win, I can understand people being frustrated at being told the race is over before they even get a chance to vote.
Looking over at a party that’s very likely to nominate a reality-TV star who’s playing a fascist so well he might actually be one, it’s easy to see how moderates and liberals would be terrified about either Sanders supporters or Hillary supporters not showing up in November. But you know what? As much as I have written about the need to “Vote Blue, No Matter Who,” I’ll never do it again, and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve Learned My Obama Lesson
The lesson we should learn from President Obama’s eight years in office is pretty simple: our checks and balances still work.
Maybe they don’t work the way we want them to, but think about it. The obstruction that Obama faced was a direct byproduct of the checks the legislative branch has over the executive. If we didn’t live in a country that believed so strongly in the separation of powers, undoubtedly Obama’s agenda would have a lot more “finished” items checked off at this point.
No man sitting in the Oval Office can either destroy or save the country alone. If Congress isn’t willing to work with the president, we get gridlock. Something tells me a President Donald Trump wouldn’t get shit accomplished, and I think there’s one word that a lot of Americans who are panicking about a Trump presidency are forgetting about — impeachment.
It gets thrown around way too much these days, but if Trump goes off the deep end and starts issuing blatantly unconstitutional executive orders or starting illegal wars — we can actually have him removed from office. If we survived Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes, we could in fact survive Trump. Obama taught us no man is all-powerful, no matter how much hope or change he wields, nor how many millions of votes he receives.
I Respect Your Vote too Much
It’s everyone’s right in this country to vote how they want to vote. Some will lecture you, browbeat you, and try to extort and emotionally blackmail you into “voting blue no matter who.” I can’t help but feel like a finger-wagging dad when I do so. And frankly, there are valid, good reasons to teach both major political parties a lesson. This idiocy with superdelegates, for instance, is just a naked and transparent way for the Democratic machine to ignore their voters if they want to. That’s not only antithetical to what Democrats espouse, it’s antithetical to what Americans believe about voting.
I respect your vote too much to lecture you on how to use it. We have a huge country with massive problems facing us. Depending on where you live, your problems could be dire. Everyone has a right and in fact a duty to their conscience to vote how they feel is best. It’s not right for me, a stranger, to lecture you about this stuff. Your frustration with a broken system is valid, and if Donald J. Trump weren’t knocking on the door to the White House, I’d probably be encouraging everyone to consider going “Bernie or Bust.” Instead, this year everyone all over the country has to do some real political calculus, and ask themselves how best to use their vote.
If You Live in a Predictably Red or Blue State, You Have Options
A lot of people seem to forget that this country is fucking huge and we have an electoral college that makes our president elected indirectly. What this has typically meant is that people voting on the margins — for third party or write-in candidates — can do so in certain states without really impacting the outcome. Living in California, I have the ability to vote for anyone I want to, because this state will go blue unless something truly crazy and unpredictable happens.
So I can, in good conscience if I want to, write Bernie Sanders’ name in come November. I could vote for the Democratic candidate no matter what. I could vote for myself. I could vote for any number of people and the reality is it’ll mean nothing but symbolism to me. Which is okay, too, by the way. Your vote is your vote. Pretentious people all over the political spectrum will try to shame you into voting a certain way, but if you don’t live in a swing state, I frankly don’t care who you vote for.
Even if you live in a swing state, you should feel just fine using your vote how you see fit. That’s like, the entire point of self-governance. Vote for you you want to vote for; you have only yourself to answer to. There will be millions of others casting ballots “the right way,” according to the political parties, so truly, vote for anyone.
That’s what makes democracy in all its forms any good at all — freedom of choice.