Now that many of us feel we are faced with a worst case scenario this November by having to decide between Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, it becomes easy to throw up our hands, and our lunch too, and just decide not to vote. However, if you are of the mind set that if you do not vote you do not have a right to complain, you are stuck choosing between the lesser of two evils. But is this really the case? There are options other than simply not voting.
Voting Matters: Voting matters whether you think so or not. Maybe it makes little to no difference at the national level, however, the most important elections are not presidential, but rather seemingly insignificant ones like who to vote for city council or the local school board. A citizen can choose not to cast a vote for either of the two major presidential candidates because they do not like either one and devote more time into learning more about local offices, measures, and bonds. After all, these will directly affect you far more than who sits in the Oval Office.
Then there are county and statewide elections that also stand to play a far larger role in your life than Hillary or Donald. If you don’t believe me and you are from California, ask yourself how you feel today about the great bullet train to nowhere.
Jill and Gary: Perhaps Jill Stein and Gary Johnson have no shot at winning in November, big deal. If you are not happy with Hillary and Donald, you should make a point of learning more about these two candidates. There is no sin in voting for someone who has no chance in winning and when the votes are tallied up, they can affect the outcome of an election. If you don’t believe me, think back to 1992. Does Bill Clinton get elected if Ross Perot doesn’t take votes away from George Bush? In fact, you can blame Perot for there being a potential Clinton dynasty. If he doesn’t run, no one today knows who Hillary Clinton is. Many Democrats blame Ralph Nader for Al Gore failing to defeat George W. Bush. Alternative candidates can make a huge difference in a presidential election.
Swallow Your Pride: This is never an easy thing to do, however, if you study the two major candidates, you may find you have a fair amount in common with one over the other. Sure, you may not like him or her any more, but at least you are voting for someone you can agree with politically. I took a few of those online tests to see which candidate I match up the most with and it turns out it is someone I can’t stand as a person, Hillary Clinton. Seems I have 78% in common with her.
However, I also have 75% in common with Trump, another person I can’t stand. All I learned from the test is it must mean the two have far more in common with each other than they have different. However, I won’t be voting for either one since I still believe I have to have faith in the person I vote for to conduct him or herself in a manner I am okay with. This eliminates both Hillary and Donald.
Write In A Name: Does anyone remember Pat Paulson and the 1968 presidential election? The Rowan and Martin Laugh In regular ran as a joke and actually pulled more votes than anyone thought possible. Perhaps you wrote in Randy of the Redwoods from MTV fame. Mickey Mouse has received more than his share of votes over the years. It doesn’t matter whose name you write in, in the end, it is one less vote for Hillary and Donald. When the election is analyzed by wonks, political scientists, and both the winning and losing sides, it will be one more example of a dissatisfied electorate.
In the end, if you simply choose not to vote at all in November, you accomplish nothing. Your voice is never heard and never added to the countless others who simply said they do not care who sits in the White House any more than they care about who sits on the school board. This is the real danger of an election; apathy. As long as we send politicians the message we do not care, they assume they do not have to change their ways. They will continue to accomplish little to nothing. However, if you want to usher in real change, it begins by voting. You may be just one voice, but collectively, we make up millions of people and it is time we made our voices heard.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.