Protest Votes = Wasted Votes!

September 24, 2016

Protest votes = wasted votes! I protested in my first two elections. Forty years ago I skipped the top line on the ballot, and four years later, in 1980, I voted for John Anderson, a Republican congressman running as an independent.

I got a pass with my protest votes, for they affected outcomes not at all. In my state the candidates I was least likely to vote for—President Gerald Ford (running against the man who beat him, Governor Jimmy Carter) and Governor Ronald Reagan (who beat President Carter)—won. Still, I felt righteous and pure, and also knew our nation would survive, no matter what. (I had history with the Carters in the 1976 Wisconsin primary, which is why I felt so strongly in both elections.)

We face an extraordinary choice in 45 days. If you support Donald Trump, G-d Bless, and I pray that our nation survives if he wins. On the other hand, if you think Hillary Clinton will lead our nation well, go forth and vote. By the way, if you can vote early, do so; people pay attention to the trend lines. Finally, if you think you need to protest by voting your conscience, please read on, for I have thoughts to share.

I have struggled mightily writing this piece. Strongly held beliefs, grounded in facts, matter. They matter always, but they matter even more when young people hold them, for the younger set represents our future, Ignore them or patronize them, and we may never reclaim their commitment to our society. That said, I made my piece with the issue when I read My Vote by Roger Angell, the extraordinary essayist for the New Yorker.

Mr. Angell is old. 96 this past Monday, September 19. He’s been writing for the New Yorker since March 1944, more than 72 years. He has also voted in 18 Presidential elections. So, if nothing else, he’s seen plenty.

Mr. Angell tells us we face a danger now which is greater than any since “the Cuban missile crisis, in 1962, or perhaps since 1943 when the Axis power held most of communal Europe and Imperial Japan controlled Pacific Rim, from the Aleutians to the Solomon Islands, with the outcome of that war still unknown.” In his mind—and mine—that danger comes if we elect Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Angell likes Hillary Clinton, flaws and all. He makes the positive case for her, but in a brief and clear way he also addresses her flaws. Here he is on the nothingness surrounding the Clinton Foundation brouhaha:

I don’t much like the high-level moneyed introductions and contacts surrounding the Clinton Foundation, but cannot find the slightest evidence that any of this has led to something much worse—that she or anyone has illegally profited or that any legislation tilted because of it. Nothing connects or makes sense; it beats me.

In the end, after a nod to the oft-mentioned outrages that evidence Mr. Trump’s character, Mr. Angell goes deeper. Here’s his penultimate paragraph:

Mr. Trump is endlessly on record as someone who will not back down, who cannot appear to pause or lose. He is a man who must win, stay on the attack, and who thinks, first and last, ‘How will I look?’ This is central, and what comes after it, for me, at times, is concern for what it must be like for anyone who, facing an imperative as dark and unforgiving as this, finds only the narcissist’s mirror for reassurance.

Do you think you can live with an “I never look back” president whose best friend is his mirror, i.e., Donald J. Trump? If your answer is yes, vote your conscience. Personally, I believe Mr. Trump represents an existential threat to the United States of America, and to a stable world order.

I’m very comfortable with my choice this fall. That said, we really have a consensus candidate for president, for Hillary Clinton has broad Republican support. Among those who have publicly supported her: Former President George H.W. Bush; Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Former National Security Advisor Brent Scrowcroft; 50 Republican national security officials, who tell us Mr. Trump “lacks the character, values and experience to be president”; and the editorial boards of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Dallas Morning News, and the Houston Chronicle, papers which for generations have always endorsed the Republican candidate for POTUS. (With more than six weeks to go, expect other prominent Rs to join up!)

Finally, there are the American people. We’ll know what we really think on November 8. In the meantime, however, a majority of American and Republicans believe Donald Trump is unqualified to be President of the United States. That matters!

Summing up, vote your conscience if you can live with President Donald J. Trump. If not, please vote for Hillary Clinton .

PS Most of my readers have got a spot or two of gray, and more than a couple of wrinkle lines. If I have just described you, don’t be shy about sharing your experiences and fears about Donald J. Trump with “conscience voters” you know. Donald J. Trump does not represent us or our shared values; he only wins if people stay home, or if they vote for third-party candidates.


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