On Protest Voting and Non Voters

The outcries against Hillary Clinton are loud and clear. Excluding the obvious Trump supporter, Hillary’s most vocal detractors are roughly divided amongst three groups, some of which can overlap.

1) Lowly educated voters, “some” of whom, are racists, misogynistic, and/or, isolationist xenophobes, who have next to zero awareness of who she is, and has been, in her life and career, beyond biased media, conspiracy and hate groups.

2) Mainstream Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, who otherwise understand politics, global and national events, and the responsibilities of governing.

3) Disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters, and all other truly uncommitted voters, who may, or may not, overlap into categories #1, or #2, who do not like any major candidate.

Category 1 speaks for itself. Category 2 has shown a tendency to coalesce in Hillary’s direction, as either a full supporter, or a begrudging one in choosing the lesser of two evils. Category 3 is in play. This group in Category 3 may either sit out the election, or vote for the Libertarian or Green Party candidate who will appear on the ballot.

On Not Voting:

I’m not interested in bullying people to vote if they are so turned off of a candidate they can’t possibly fathom him/her in public office. But, that does not preclude you, the registered voter, and citizen of your country, from doing all you can do to understand what is going in your country politically, should you decide you can’t vote. Speak out. Shout out. Create a group. Build support for your case, instead of musing, or fuming about it to one or two people in your tight circles. In short, if you don’t want to vote, and hate everyone who is running, then try and do something about it. That’s what our forefathers did. That’s how its done. It is not done by not doing anything. It is not done by waiting for someone else to do something. It is done by doing something on your own. Something to demonstrate that you care enough to put some work into your beliefs that you believe are threatened. If you don’t think you have the capacity, nor time to do something like this, and you still do not vote, then I am sorry to tell you that you are shirking your duty, and your obligation, as a citizen of this country.

If you do not vote, you need to do something to make a meaningful step towards changing whatever it is that keeps you from voting. Organizing and speaking out to groups is one of the most effective ways. Politics is the same thing. Its nothing more than a structure of presenting ideas to the masses. The loudest voices, and the boldest ideas, get attention. If you believe in something, this is what you do. If you wait around for somebody else to throw their voice and weight around, and you don’t vote, and you don’t speak out to groups and try to build your own case, your own coalition, you have to accept that you are part of the reason someone else gets there.

Two hundred thousand people died in the American Revolution. Tens of millions more have died since defending it, and fighting what they believed in. Died. They gave their lives. If you don’t like things now, and you don’t want to vote, how about putting in an effort to create a community group to discuss ideas to improve your neighborhood. your town, or city? Put your ideas on paper. Develop your own political ideas platform, and garner support amongst friends, neighbors, and most importantly, doing this outside your immediate comfort zones, and geography. Do something that shows you care about being an American, a citizen of life around you, more than just benefitting from the work of the others.

Political activism need not describe a special category of individual that only pursues aggressive activity in the name of a cause, if you do vote. Voting in itself is a form of activism. Its a minimum, but the mere act of voting says something about you. It says you think about the process, about the candidate, and have made a decision about political leadership, as it relates to who you are, and your values. It may be that you have done this on a bare minimum level, for better or worse, but it does show you care enough to calculate the net result of choosing a particular person for office, to take the time to go to the polls and vote.

On Protest Voting:

This year there are four candidates on the Presidential ballot. Two from one of the major parties who will take power and run the presidency. And two from fringe parties, Libertarian, and Green.

The concept of an expanded party system, whether Independent, Green, Libertarian, or some other, is interesting, and as shown with Bernie Sanders’ successful movement, has measurable potential to affect the national political conversation, and subsequent policy decisions. Conversely, once the nomination process is complete, the idea of voting for a candidate running for public office who has no chance of being elected, as a protest against the other candidates, has to be one of the most boneheaded meaningless moves of any nation’s citizens. I’ll go further. It’s lazy, thoughtless, and irresponsible. It is better to not vote at all, and become a real activist to change the system, if that’s your point. But, if you do that, be prepared to work extra hard as an activist in order to legitimize your stated position, and also live with the potential consequences of having a very poor candidate take office due to your refusal to vote.

In the case of this year’s U.S. Presidential election, a protest vote is outright dangerous because of (pathetic as it is) the possibility of it causing an election of an incompetent, incoherent, inexperienced, lying fraud to the office.

No matter how much you dislike both major candidates who can be elected, if, in the final weeks before election day, all poll results and aggregated information conclude that victory is plausible for a candidate who is considered, by all rational perceptions, if not your own instincts, dangerously unfit for the Presidency, based on an unbiased, verified, current and historical record, you must do everything in your power to prevent that victory.

CLIPPED OUT: Speaking out to groups, or crowds, if you can swing that, as a non voter, has been famously done by George Carlin. George Carlin had a stage, literally, to make his case, but you don’t need to be a celebrity, or a comic to speak out to groups. Still, it takes some effort, just as it did for Carlin to build his career. 

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