|Sign in front of my house|
Not too much has changed about my own personal political beliefs, though I have moved slightly the opposite of how you might expect based on my region (since I moved from NC to SC) and my age. However, like many voters, this presidential election season has been confounding. That's why, I'd like to make the case for 7 different options for Election Day (today):
Options 1-6) Vote for any of the other 6 candidates (at least on the SC ballot) not named Donald Trump. There's been plenty written to try and convince others to not vote for him. In fact, here's a good summary from fellow early 2000's blogger/friend Justin Scott. Though I should mention that his post was a little over a month ago so there's plenty more to add to the list. I got a chance to see conservative NYT columnist David Brooks here in Greenville a few weeks ago and he concisely stated that "Trump is the wrong solution to a right problem". If you'd like to get some real sympathy for why at least 40% of voters in the country is planning to vote for him, the Cracked Podcast has a great discussion (here's the shorter list version). I actually got a chance to do a short informational presentation on the election to the two campuses of my high school (one fairly urban and one very rural) and you could feel the stark difference (even in the historically very conservative Upstate of SC).
As for the other 6 candidates, they've gone through SC's fairly stringent process of getting on the ballot:
In South Carolina, political parties can conduct primaries. Filing requirements for presidential primaries are set by the parties themselves. An independent presidential candidate must petition for placement on the general election ballot. The petition must contain signatures totaling 5 percent of all registered state voters. Write-in candidates are not permitted.I'd suggest that if someone has gone through the proper channels to legally appear on your ballot, then they are open to vote for them. That's not just my opinion, that's the law. There are certainly arguments of spoiler candidates, but that's only if you are first obligated to a party or candidate. If that means the party you normally side with "lost your vote" then you're now showing your vote matters. Hopefully that party won't make the same mistake again. So here are the non-Trump candidates:
1) Hillary Clinton (Democrat): Despite all the email scandals (there are actually several different ones involving several different people), I still think Clinton would make a much better president than Donald Trump. Comparisons aside, she was a relatively innocuous Senator so much so she was approved as Secretary of State 94–2. It wasn't until she became a candidate for president in 2008 that she became such a pariah to conservatives (or even Trump himself).
2) Gary Johnson (Libertarian): Having voted for him in the last presidential election he was easily my first choice. His Vice Presidential pick is even better than his last one 4 years ago. I think Johnson would make a very competent and fairly moderate president. He's the only candidate I've heard in decade reminding voters that the president can't actually pass laws and has to work with Congress (one of Obama's major pitfalls). I'd also nominate him for most likely to balance the budget.
3) Jill Stein (Green): She might be the only candidate on this list I might call into question. Her policies are health, energy, and debt are very concerning. However, I believe her and Gary Johnson are the only candidates openly calling for shrinking the federal military and decreasing US involvement in nation building overseas.
4) Darrell Castle (Constitution): I don't know a lot about Castle as a candidate, but my understanding of Constitution Party is that it is a more religiously conservative version of the Libertarian Party. If you appreciate Gary Johnson's honest efforts to shrink the size of the federal government, I believe Castle will push for similar things economically. However, they divide over issues like abortion, LGBT rights and other issues where the Constitution falls more traditionally.
5) Peter Skewes (American Party): I know nothing about Skewes personally, but the entire vision of the American Party is incredibly appealing, especially in this election. This was a party actually founded right here in SC with the mission of leading from the middle. Here's a quote from their site: "The central focus of the American Party is to increase the economic global competitiveness of our states and our country, by focusing on the implementation of common ground solutions".
6) Evan McMullin (Independent): The true wildcard among wildcards Evan may be the only 3rd party candidate to carry a state since Ross Perot in the 90's. Right now as a completely independent candidate he's polling above Hillary Clinton in Utah and drawing 24% from Trump in a state the Republicans carried handedly in 2012. If there's no majority in the electoral college, it could get interesting.
7) Don't vote. It's your right to vote and it's just as much your right not to vote. If there are no candidates that represent enough of your views accurately, then no outcome will express your voice. Plus you have a 1 in 60 million chance of making a difference. 1 in 10 million if you're in a swing state. Wasted votes aren't votes that don't make a difference. No one vote has ever made the difference in a presidential election. A wasted vote is one for a candidate that you do not want to be president. Which is why studies shows we mostly vote for our own personal or communal feeling of satisfaction (same reason I watched baseball for the first time in a decade on Game 7). In fact, after reading over "Why I Voted" from 8 years ago, not a lot has changed for me and plus, voter apathy may actually be a positive.
Like the Greenville News (who endorsed Romney last time), this year I'm not endorsing any candidate. I think all non-Trump candidates would be passable. My vote however will go to Hillary Clinton, who like her husband, policy-wise might turn out to be the boring president I've always wanted. And the policy issues we do disagree on (and there are plenty), I'm confident our system of Federalism and other two branches will do what they were made for (as I discussed on the issue of abortion just a few hours ago). It's also important to me how Trump loses. Whether it's a small loss or a big one likely determine whether we see a Trump/Christie type Republican Party in 2020 or my dream new version of the party with candidates like Kasich/Weld on the ticket. This also means I will have voted for 3 different parties in 4 different presidential elections. It feels good not to be tied to a party, which are at the end of the day just private organizations that nominate candidates for office. Instead I vote for who I think would be the best chief executive, a suggestion I got from Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate Bill Weld.