Hey! I know this is kind of cutting things close but it seems tat now is the time to do this.
I've been meaning to address the Bernie Sanders diehards for a while now but this election cycle has been exhausting in a lot of ways. Now, many of those who have supported Sanders have decided to back Hillary Clinton (or at least grudgingly vote for her to keep Trump out of office), this isn't for you. Instead I want to address those few who aren't feeling Stronger Together with the Democratic Presidential candidate.
Okay, some of you are angry over how the DNC have treated Bernie Sanders throughout the primary. You can cite the recently leaked e-mails showing that then DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz appeared to do her damnedest to make sure Clinton won the nomination. I agree with you with that one. Reports from the primary elections did should some evidence of shenanigans and scheduling two of the three Democratic Primary debates at 9pm on a Saturday night (the latter of the two on the Saturday before Christmas) didn't help - either Sanders or Clinton. However, as the race reached the final states the votes increasingly went towards Clinton making her victory, rightly or wrongly, inevitable. As for the revived outrage over the leaked Wikileaks e-mails of the Clinton campaign, if we were honest the worst they did was confirm our suspicions (i mean., c'mon - who came across the coverage of those and didn't think to themselves "This is new and revelatory how?"). I understand the anger but it won't change that the ballot will list Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine as the Democrats nominees for the Presidential/Vice Presidential ticket.
So this is where some of you are fuming and thinking to yourselves, "Here's where Boone's going to tell us to suck it up and just vote for Clinton, putting our concerns aside." Actually it's not that simple. I know some of you want to protest vote and as someone who's done so in the past (and may do so again in the future) I don't feel I have the right to tell you to blindly get in line and suck up your beliefs. However, I do feel some nuance is in order.
On the issue of third party votes, things are complicated. While most people aren't fond of the electoral college in this country, it's still the final arbiter of votes for this office. Because of this if someone's living in California, a state so midnight blue it's only two shades lighter than the cover of AC/DC's seminal album Back in Black (Metallica's 1991 self-titled album (a/k/a "The black album) and the soundtrack to This Is Spinal Tap can also fit here) one's vote for a third party candidate is more nuanced since it would be next to impossible for that state to go Red (it hasn't gone for a rpeublican for President since 1988) thus a protest vote can be both pure and relatively safe. As for New York, this is slightly trickier since Clinton now lives there and Trump is a native. However, given how most New Yorkers reportedly feel about Trump it'll likely be blue (and while NYC and its surroundings are a small part of the state it is the most highly populated area) so odds are Clinton will likely get the vote (giving Trump something he can actually have in common with Al Gore - who didn't win his home state of Tennessee in 2000). In deep to somewhat deep blue states a more nuanced argument can be made for third parties than the Democrats or the Republicans want to admit.
However, not every state is deep blue or even light blue. Can a case be made for third party voting in deep red states on the grounds that if your vote won't really matter anyway one might as well vote their conscience? In a way that's true. However, some care might need to be taken on those states - especially since more states may be in play this year.Then there's the swing states.
The swing states are the ones that, for better or worse, matter most in this race. You know the ones (among them are Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in the north, with Florida and North Carolina in the south). These are the states where things are expected to be tighter than normal this year as those down on their luck resonate with Trump's message either because of the racism and xenophobia or put that intolerance and bigoted rhetoric aside thinking that attitude won't turn on them. It is here where the protest vote may not be the best move. Several of the states are must wins for Clinton (and with a week before the election, all are must wins for Trump). Here is where conscience can get murky and a case can actually be made that one vote for a third party means the other main guy would win. It is here that I'm torn between whether one should vote their conscience or not. Add to this Noam Chomsky, who supported Sanders in the primary even advocated voting for the lesser evil in such a circumstance (in this case, for Clinton against Trump) and there's where the gray area become almost storm cloud at early evening murky.
At this point I want to make it clear that I don't endorse candidates on principle (a stance that began in my time in college activism) so I'm not officially saying one thing or another. However, I do want to address some questions those who supported Bernie but are still extremely hesitant about Clinton and may fit those still "undecided."
First is the question of why Bernie didn't run as an independent or take the Green Party's offer to be their nominee after losing to Clinton. While a lot of Sander's campaign issues meshed with the Greens it has also been reported that Bernie Sanders is pragmatic, which was why he chose to be a Democrat for this race. Also, many states have what are referred to as "sore loser" laws which prohibit a candidate from running as an independent is they lost their party's primary race. Because of this Sanders legally couldn't be on the ballot in numerous states. He could've also made things worse for the Greens if he took Jill Stein up on her offer to take over. It is here where what's pragmatic actually benefits a third party rather than just benefit the status quo.
Then there's the issue of whether to write in Bernie. While some states would accept that choose a number of states either don't allow write in candidates or only allow those who've been approved (usually via application) to be a write in candidate. Sanders didn't file to be a write in candidate choosing to endorse Hillary Clinton. Add in the "sore loser" laws in some states and it becomes clear that Bernie couldn't go down this route.
In either choice it's understandable why someone would want to choose Bernie over Clinton or Trump. While he managed to get a good chunk of his issues into the Democratic Party platform, concern over Clinton's tendency to shift moderate still unnerves some people. Sanders is more solidly progressive and it can be said if the Democrats chose him he'd be a better choice against Trump.
This leads us to the big question - Since Sanders didn't win should one vote against Hillary and choose Donald Trump? This is rooted in reports that there are people in the primary race that said If Sanders doesn't get the nomination they'll go for Trump. This can be best summed up by Stephen Colbert who stated on his TV show over Trump's attempts to court Bernie supporters, "You didn't get what you wanted. Why not try the exact opposite?"
When it comes to this tactic the best reference comes from the end of the primary race (June 2016) when Shaun King of the NY Daily News answered the question a lot more diplomatically than my response on whether a Sanders supporter should vote for Trump (which is usually centered around, Hell Fuck No!").
I know some people who may vote third party would claim that Trump won't be as bad as Clinton because "at least he's not a war criminal." However, Donald Trump is only not a war criminal because of lack of opportunity. Given that he's claimed at rallies that he'd bring back "waterboarding...and a hell of a lot worse" it seems apparent that if he wins a Trump presidency would likely bring back what many consider war crimes in the most obvious sense.
So what should a Bernie supporter who's hesitant about Hillary do? That's up to you. However, while one may wish to do a protest vote they should take into account location and whether it may cause more harm than good. For those in deep blue states it may not be a real issue while for those in swing states one cannot be blamed if they choose the lesser evil, even if they plan on protesting her if she wins.
As for me I'm not totally certain. A large part of me is considering the possibility of going the lesser of two evils route but since I live in a state where the electoral vote will most likely go to Trump (as well as the popular vote given that too many white Missourians love their racism) a part of me is considering that option as well. Regardless, I do know that either Clinton or Trump will win the election on November 8th so my thoughts after that will lead to how to deal with those two.
That about wraps up my post here. I've tried to be nuanced in the ups or downs of protest votes versus the lesser evil vote without going too in depth. While i hope you see my point I know some will likely view me as some sort of sellout given my hesitation about whether one should protest vote in the swing states. Regardless,whether you vote for Hillary or Jill Stein or write someone in is your business and between you and what happens in that booth. What's important is that Donald Drumpf, I mean Trump gets thwarted in his quest to become a bully in chief. It's up to you to decide how you want to play that out.