In Defense of the Protest Vote

Next month, when the elections finally happen and this horror-scape of a campaign season ends, I will probably vote for Hillary Clinton. But, I might not. I might vote for Jill Stein. I haven’t made my mind up yet. I’m still deciding whether or not I want to put my support behind the person who has the best chance of beating Donald Trump, or to put my support behind the person who I think would best lead this country. I imagine I’m not alone in making this decision, especially among my age group. In fact, I know I’m not. I’ve seen about a bajillion facebook arguments take place in the comment sections of crappy memes on this very subject. And you know what, I think that a bunch of us pondering this is good. All ya’ll haters can suck it.

 See... totally not salty.

See... totally not salty.

A week ago, the New York Times published an article about how Clinton is struggling to win over millennials who are considering voting for 3rd party candidates. Part of their reasoning is that millennials don’t remember Ralph Nader, so they don’t understand the destructive impact of a protest vote. I am not salty about this article at all, but, also, I want to say that it’s total garbage. Saying that “millennials don’t get what a protest vote means in a close race,” suggests that either my generation is too stupid to understand what Trump might do to this country or we’re too dumb to understand how voting and numbers work. Considering the age demographics of people voting Clinton vs. Trump, I’d say that the former is clearly untrue, so that just leaves the latter which is a pretty insulting thing to lay on an entire generation. But really, either way, the NYT is being shitty and condescending, and they can shove off.

The truth of the matter is that with the way the electoral college works there often is room for a protest vote. There are a lot of bad things about the electoral college, but this is not one of them. If you live in one of the battleground states, please, please, please, vote Clinton. Your vote matters. A lot. But, as it turns out, there are millions and millions of us who don’t live in battleground states. Do you live in New York or California or Illinois? Your state is going to Clinton, she doesn’t need you. Do you live in Texas or Louisiana? Trump already has ownership of your state, voting for Clinton will be like trying to put out a wildfire with a glass of Kool-aid. If you don’t live in a battleground state, I say screw it, vote for who you really want to vote for.

And if there ever were an election where America needs a strong showing from a third party, it’s this one. It’s becoming more and more clear that the two party system has failed, providing us with two disliked and uninspiring presidential nominees. Large swathes of the Americans are left without a viable candidate who accurately represents their values and beliefs. And the worst part of the two party system is that its failure is exactly what’s forcing us to feed into it even more. Instead of voting based on what we truly believe is right, we feel the need to vote for someone we don’t like just to stop the person we REALLY don’t like, and a third party is nowhere to be seen. It’s a vicious circle. A strong showing of third party candidates in already-won states could, at the very least, send a message that the system is broken and changes need to be made. You’d feel less dirty walking out of the voting booth that way too.

Basically what I’m saying is that the NYT and all the Hillary-stans out there unequivocally vilifying third party voters should knock it off. If Hillary loses, the blame is squarely on her shoulders, not on people who didn’t feel like being coerced into voting against their own interests. Shouting that "a vote for a third party is a vote for Trump" lacks nuance. And Ralph Nader wasn’t the reason Al Gore lost in 2000. Maybe, ya’ll are the ones that don’t "get it".

Okay, I am a little salty. Whatever.