Debates and voting indiscretions

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After the first presidential debate, you may be tempted to vote for a third party candidate: Gary Johnson.

And that wouldn’t be ideologically unsound. However, there are only three good reasons to vote for Gary Johnson, and all of them cost your country more time, money and respect than I think you intended to forfeit.
(1) You want Hillary Clinton to win.
(2) You want Donald Trump to win.
(3) You want the United States to have your ideology on record.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

No one would argue with the (mostly younger) crowd when they remark that the two party system is flawed, corrupt, and supports leadership reflective of those characteristics. It’s like walking into a high school and telling them that no one will care what brand of jeans they’re wearing in 20 years: They already know, but it hardly sways the reality of how they feel.

Right now, the average voter probably feels justifiably ripped off. Voting for a third party seems to be a way to not only illustrate how terribly wronged you’ve been, but to stick it to the establishment. But why not just stick it to the candidate you hate slightly more than the other candidate?

The problem with voting for a third party candidate is that you are furthering one person’s chance of losing without actually determining who that person will be.

Your action is inaction. Your nobility is cowardice. Your voice has been silenced.

My personal opinion may not jive with others, and that’s okay. Hell, that’s democracy. In my “reality,” as Clinton might put it, Trump sounds like an illiterate moron who refused to attend the anger management classes his Parole Officer recommended, and Hillary sounds like the kid whose parents self-diagnosed her with “probably some high functioning autism.” It made for a debate that sounded like the lovechild of Jabba the Hutt and Bobcat Goldthwait decided to go up against Spock’s great aunt.

Trump’s inability to prepare himself with facts (as in true statements) could only be matched by Clinton’s ability to restrain herself from actually picking apart those ridiculous claims the instant they left his mouth. Perhaps she was amazed at his audacity, but it comes across as smug to simply laugh and say, “I’ve got fact checkers,” when you could just as easily preface your next statement with: “I’d like to point out that a million dollars and several financial bailouts from your father hardly qualifies as a small loan, that most of my opponent’s businesses have failed, that he has more lawsuits than any candidate in history, and that many of the economic problems he cites come from conservative policies and military actions he would like to push once again if he was elected to office.”

In the second act, she seemed to wake from her politician’s coma and start pushing back, pointing out Trump’s history of judging women solely by their appearance and his habit of supporting policies that not only sustain but promote racial profiling and systematic racism. These are excellent points — but they won’t necessarily be the ones to sway anyone who is undecided or already on the Trump train.

By choosing to attack social values (usually a more liberal concern) rather than the economy (where various online fact-checkers reported Donald Trump the loser), Clinton handed the debate to Trump in so many ways. He was not given a taste of his own medicine or forced to level with anyone, particularly the American voters watching. The cognitive dissonance between his apparent ability to “relate” to the average person and his absolute ignorance of what it’s like to be one was never showcased. Most of his retorts were not cut off or addressed, but dismissed. And Trump would probably agree with me that this is not the stage of the game where one can afford to be dismissive of threats.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson on “Morning Joe” — “What’s Aleppo?”
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson
on “Morning Joe” — “What’s Aleppo?”

This brings us back to Johnson.

Voting for a third party candidate who demonstrates a lack of interest and knowledge in foreign policy simply to get out of voting for the two options running for president demonstrates a dangerous dismissiveness in today’s voting culture.

You can’t dismiss the Either-Or argument of this two-party mess when the statistical chance of your third-party candidate winning looks frighteningly similar to the likelihood of meeting a Hugh Jackman clone in the personals section on Craigslist. In other words, it’s not going to happen. Supposing you vote for Johnson anyways, what do you gain from your loss … and who else loses?

With that said, I’m definitely bringing popcorn to the next debate — and possibly some Tylenol.

All photos are YouTube screen shots. Top photo: Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and his running mate former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld from the Johnson-Weld Townhall on MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews. Johnson had another “Aleppo moment.” Two weeks ago while on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Johnson was asked what he would do about Aleppo, the Syrian town at the center of that country’s civil war and refugee crisis. Johnson’s reply: “What’s Aleppo?”