Saturday, October 8, 2016

You're Clear to Vote Your Conscience

I haven't written a blog post for some time. This campaign cycle has just been too depressing. For months I've been working on a post about why a vote for a third party is wasted, but I haven't felt good about publishing it. 

Now I know why. For the first time in my lifetime, a vote for a third party candidate may not be a wasted vote after all.

More on that in a minute. Here are 12 random thoughts about the latest political bombshell:

1) I am not surprised that Donald Trump made these lewd, inappropriate, and offensive comments. He has made insensitive and inflammatory comments before, which is one reason (but not the primary reason) why I have repeatedly denounced him and warned Republicans not to vote for him. 

2) Anyone who was paying attention should have presumed that such a tape likely existed and that it would be released at the worst possible moment for Trump's campaign. Even if you support Trump's policies, you should have been wary of nominating a man who is so widely disliked and even hated. The factions of the Republican Party that allowed Trump to obtain the nomination have gotten what was coming to them. This is a lesson that had to be learned the hard way.

3) While Trump has made similar comments before, this particular tape is worse because Trump brags about sexually assaulting a woman, something that is both illegal and morally reprehensible. Even if his boast is hot air and he never actually assaulted a woman, his attitude is the antithesis of what we should seek in our country's president. Therefore, now is the chance for self-respecting Republicans who have heretofore held their noses but claimed that Trump was the lesser of two evils to admit that Trump is simply unacceptable. 

4) It is true that some of the things Bill Clinton has done may be just as bad if not worse than what Trump said, or said he did, in the tape. The Monica Lewinsky affair was at best sexual harassment given his position as her superior at the time, even though she claims the relationship was consensual. Monica Lewinsky was just one of many women who have come forwarded claiming misconduct on the former president's part. Unfortunately, we don't have a smoking gun proving whether these claims are true.


5) Bill Clinton is not running for president. Hillary is. While some have claimed that Hillary "enabled" Bill or denigrated his victims, Hillary has not committed sexual assault or bragged about doing so. That's not to say that Hillary doesn't have a scandal-filled past, but there is no equivalence with the latest revelations about Trump.

6) Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. I could be wrong - something extraordinary could happen. But barring such an event, Trump, whose support was already on a downward slope, will see the floor drop out from beneath him in the next few days. If he wins, it would be ... well, not a "miracle," since I typically associate that term with something positive; but it would be surprising to say the least. 

7) There is no time to replace Trump as the Republican nominee; even if it were possible, such a candidate would be at a severe disadvantage for many, many reasons (organization, name recognition, ground game, vetting, building support, convincing people to vote for them, proving viability, etc.). Voting has already begun in many states, with early ballots printed and either in the mail or about to be. Pence is in the best position to replace Trump, but such a last-minute swap would be messy.

8) A win by a third party is still a long shot. For one thing, there are multiple third-party candidates, each with their own flaws (too hippie, too liberal, too unknown, not on the ballot). For another, a significant portion of Trump voters will stick with him through thick and thin. Most importantly, with only a month till the election, it's probably too late for the persuadable group of Trump's supporters to settle on an alternative. Clinton will retain most of her 40-45% support and probably gain some. Trump could still pull out 30-40%, even low 40s if he's lucky, but it's not outside of the realm of possibility that he could finish behind one of the third-party candidates. Johnson, Stein, McMullin, and others will carve up the rest of the vote in 5-20% chunks. 

9) Go ahead and vote your conscience - you have nothing to lose. Normally, in a 50/50 race between two candidates, you can't afford to waste your vote on a third-party candidate when one is clearly unacceptable. That was my rationale for potentially voting for Hillary. However, when one candidate is almost certain to win, it becomes less important to vote strategically. I'd still keep an eye on the polls, but if on Election Day, it's looking like a blowout for Hillary, feel free to vote for whoever catches your fancy.

10) I'm not sure who I will vote for.  I really like McMullin. I could still vote for Hillary. Johnson doesn't seem half bad. But it's becoming less likely by the hour that I will ever vote for Mr. Donald J. Trump.

11) It's time to focus on keeping Republican control in the Senate. Abandon any hope for the presidency. Stop spending time and energy on a lost cause. Convince people to split the ticket. Vote for a balance of power. Even if you don't like individual Republicans or their policies, don't give Hillary a blank check - make her work with Republicans to solve America's problems in bipartisan fashion. By all means, send the same message to Republicans by voting for Hillary in a landslide.

12) If Hillary can't bring this country together and convince America that she's up for the job, 2020 is just 4 years away. 

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