As much as I like to imagine myself a conservative, I just cannot bring myself to vote for Donald Trump. Having said that, I am definitely cut from the Never Hillary cloth when you look at all she wants to do. So what do I do?
I cannot get behind these candidates. In the end, I am left with having to vote my values. And most of my friends, liberal or conservative feel the same way. My liberal friends are no fans of Hillary and my conservative friends have no respect for Trump.
Am I deceiving myself by thinking I can focus on VOTING MY VALUES rather than voting FOR a candidate? I feel like there are plenty of reasons to not want to reward either of these candidates with becoming the President of the United States of America. So I am left with only two reasonable courses of action...
- Don't play the game
- Find some moral justification for not abdicating my duty to vote
Set aside the political mongrels sitting off to the side of my potential indecision hoping to grab the scraps of my frustration and bend my disenfranchisement into their victory: I think there is an understandable case for not wanting to reward these candidates. That bit makes complete sense to me. Whether I am angry at Trumps treatment of women, or angry at Hillary's egomaniacal utilitarian treatment of everyone including her own family or extreme pro-choice views, I can understand how this election feels very personal. But I think that not voting has the bigger downside.
How I wish this would play out
I wish that both Republicans and Democrats had a chance to select their candidates again. In my dream, we know more about who were are selecting to champion the role of U.S. President such that we can get excite both about the values being promoted by the political platform as well as the character of the person selected. But that didn't play out. For some crazy reason, we are ending up with these two incredibly flawed candidates that make me feel sick to my stomach. So back to the question, what do I do?
So what do I do?
I believe it is our right to hope for a healthy political platform and candidate. But because I am left with feeling insulted by the decisions and quality of our candidates, and yet I still feel it is my moral obligation to participate in this election, I am left with examining two things:
- The values inherent to the candidate's political platforms
- The likelihood of that candidate being able to implement those compatible values into American politics over the next four years
So what values do I care about and what are the chances my vote affects the implementation of those values? Here is my breakdown:
- Support for the American Constitution: Since the time of Obama, we have seen what the selection of activist supreme court justices has yielded for the country. I don't want activist judges. I want judges interested in upholding the constitution. There will be 2 and possibly 3 opportunities to select supreme court justices by the next president. So the likelihood of seeing positive outcomes come from voting my values are fairly high.
- Support for a Constitutional Congress: Federal spending is out of control, by both parties. Assuming both the Senate and House continue to promote unbalanced spending, I want to believe that a fiscally conservative U.S. President would be willing to veto an out-of-control crony-spending Congress. At the same time, there have been a number of irresponsible uses of Congressional rules bent to the point of breaking in order to skirt around dealing with our political differences of opinion, for example, Budget Reconciliation rules to pass laws in an inappropriate use of a Congressional process. I want to imagine a U.S. President willing to veto those laws in hopes that Congress be made to work together more effectively. I think that both fiscal conservatism and the willingness to veto to that end stands a fairly high chance of being an outcome of this election.
- Support for defending the weakest amongst us: In a typical political season, we hear a lot of people talk about pro-choice versus pro-life issues with regard to abortion law. But most of the time, nothing ever comes of that talk. But this year both the DNC and Hillary want to change the law to allow for partial birth abortion. This is a published fact and when confronted with that fact in the second presidential debate, Hillary did not waver in support of partial birth abortion. It doesn't surprise me that the majority of Millenials are far more pro-life than the previous generations. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that more than 58 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. alone since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. No matter, this election is about fighting a great expansion and resulting death toll from U.S. abortion law. There is an extremely high likelihood of my values vote playing out as having a life-saving impact in November.
- Support for the first amendment that encourages the free exercise of religion: The need for this is more timely than it has ever been. The first half of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution is almost always misquoted and the second half of the statement is ignored. The amendment clearly states that the Federal government cannot establish any church as the official church of America, but rather encourages the free exercise of religion. The point of the amendment is not to remove the influence of religion from our lives or from the view of the public but rather to not make laws that stifle it. I believe wholeheartedly that this election will have a continued opportunity to fix a number of critical federal approaches that stifle religion based on a bias from liberal politicians against it.
So, for me, the question really comes down to...
Do my specific concerns (based on the offensive flaws in these candidates) and their potential for damaging America if elected outweigh the good of me voting my values? Said another way, Can I cast a ballot for a flawed and offensive candidate that I would never personally endorse in order to promote values that could have an enormous outcome and impact on future generations?
That is where the duty part comes into play. If I can to be honest with myself, I feel that voting my values has nothing to do with the candidates but with a political platform. I am not voting for a king or queen. This is not a popularity contest. And in this particular election, we do not seem to have candidates in our two major parties that allow us to get excited about the moral character of the candidates. I wish I could feel good about the candidates, but I cannot.
Instead, I have to embrace the reality that voting for or against a platform is the best I can do to stay true to my values while fulfilling my duty to vote. I can be honest with everyone. This election is no longer about celebrating or getting excited about a political candidate. It is about being responsible to chose an impossible way forward, and that not taking action, is also an investment in an outcome.
If you are conservative and feel like me, then you might get a kick out of a few bumper stickers I created for this election cycle. Again, I will vote my values, and these bumper stickers make the point that this election is more about voting for a platform and not a person. That the platform and my values are more important to me than the candidate. That casting a ballot against a candidate and their platform can be just as value-driven as not wanting to vote for a flawed candidate.
If you want to print these, then I recommend that you right click on them and open them in a new tab, save them, and upload them to http://www.makestickers.com/ so they can quickly email some stickers back to you.