Sunday, November 6, 2016

How I Met [with] Your Mother [and Decided Who to Vote for]

The deed is done. On Wednesday, after much deliberation and months of being undecided, I finally completed my ballot, signed and sealed the envelope, and mailed it to be tallied in the results on Election Day. It was a great relief to finally put this dreaded task behind me. 

My final decision came at the very last minute and in an unexpected way. It's actually kind of a funny story, especially when you consider that I'm a political junkie who has been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about this election over the last two years.

I share my experience as a matter of fact - I am not trying to persuade anyone to vote one way or another at this point. If you're undecided, I'm sorry to say that my story will not make your decision any easier (I offer my deepest sympathies).

The Facts

I'll get to who I voted for in a minute, but first let me set things up. The following thoughts were going through my head as I filled out my ballot Tuesday night:

1) I was confident that I would not vote for Trump - that much was clear and there's no need to expound any further than I already have in previous posts.

2) Part of me really wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton. I wanted to be part of history. Fifty years from now when my great-grandchildren ask me who I voted for when the first woman was elected president, I wanted to be able to say that I was one of those who felt it was time to send a woman to the White House. I felt this decision would be justified because Hillary is one of the most qualified candidates ever to run for office, and that many of the arguments against her are overblown.

3) However, I felt some hesitation to vote for Clinton because of the repeated ethical issues over the course of her political career. Any fair assessment of Clinton must acknowledge these issues and rationalize them; ignoring them or pretending they are fabrications of the Republican party is dishonest and unproductive. That doesn't necessarily mean they disqualify her. Also, I worry about Clinton's potential supreme court appointments. Still, if the choice were between Clinton and Trump, there is no question to me which is more qualified, more prepared, and more fit to serve as president (hint: the answer is Clinton).

4) Part of me wanted to vote for Evan McMullin. McMullin most closely aligns with my views of any of the candidates on almost every issue. He is extremely well versed in foreign policy, which is perhaps the area where a president's inexperience can be most damaging to the nation. Furthermore, I wanted to cast a "protest vote" to signal to the Republican party that I would have voted for almost any other candidate they could have put forth. This protest vote would also signal my reservations about Clinton. 

5) I was hesitant to vote for McMullin because he has not been fully vetted, has no political experience, and has virtually no chance of actually winning. The last of these three concerns counterbalances the first two - a vote for McMullin would be first and foremost a protest vote, not a choice for who is most qualified to serve.

6) While the polls have shown some tightening, Clinton is highly likely to win both the popular and electoral votes. Trump is likely to win Arizona, but Clinton can win nationally without it. Arizona is unlikely to be the "tipping point" state. In other words, my vote will not be decisive. This takes some of the pressure off, but also makes the choice less clear.

The Decision

As I was agonizing over this decision Tuesday night, I asked my wife what I should do. She expressed similar frustration, except her choice was between Trump and McMullin. She doesn't like Trump as a person, but her primary focus was on the supreme court and general agreement with policy.

Having heard this, it became immediately clear to me what to do. I made a deal with my wife that if she would vote for McMullin, I would too.

In this way, I was able to deprive Trump of a vote, counterbalanced by voicing my dissatisfaction with Clinton, all while adding two votes to McMullin's tally and managing to come away with a clear conscience. Win-win-win.

Perhaps most importantly, I spared my wife from having to vote for Trump; I consider this the modern day equivalent of laying my coat over a puddle so my wife doesn't have to muddy her shoes.

And that, my dear great-grandchildren, is how I decided who to vote for in the 2016 presidential election.

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