While I had promised myself not to write anymore about the 2016 Presidential election until it was over, I find myself getting agitated by people saying, “A write-in vote” is a waste of time or a wasted vote. For those people like me who are thoroughly disenchanted with the two main candidates for the highest office in the land, saying something like this is as condescending as it gets.
To begin with, I am a registered Independent, so here in my home state of New York that basically means that I don’t exist. I cannot vote in the primaries, and the candidates that usually are considered the leading ones never represent my party (on occasion they do get an endorsement from my party, but that doesn’t mean they are the ones for whom I wish to vote).
After a raucous and obnoxious campaign waged by both Hillary Clinton (the Democratic Party nominee) and Donald Trump (the Republican nominee), I still have no inclination to vote for either one of them. This is more than about the issues or the personalities of these two totally unqualified candidates – it is about the lack of equity and accountability in the way nominees are chosen.
Earlier this year I wrote about getting rid of the conventions for both parties because they seem meaningless. When I see the machinations that went into depriving Bernie Sanders of a fair shot at being the Democratic nominee – and I firmly believe that he was robbed of the opportunity by the DNC, chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Ms. Clinton herself – how could I ever bring myself to vote for the nominee whom I believe does not deserve to be there?
On the Republican side, there were so many supposedly “qualified” but unlikeable and annoying candidates that Trump – in no way the cream rising to the top – became the nominee by default. You can say what you want about his tactics and personality, but it was his opponents’ haplessness and lack of personality that catapulted Trump to the nomination.
So, after watching the unthinkable become the unimaginable – two of the most unpopular candidates in American election history running for the presidency – can you blame me and people like me for wanting another option?
Someone I know whom I respect a great deal said about my wanting to write-in Bernie Sanders for President that “It is just sour grapes.” He, a staunch Hillary supporter, went on to say “Any write-in vote is a vote for Trump.” However, I have heard Trump supporters saying just the opposite – that a write-in vote is a vote for Hillary. Of course, I couldn’t disagree more.
A write-in vote is a vote of conscience and integrity. It indicates that I (and many like me) am unhappy with the system, disgusted with the way we are expected to vote like cattle, and that many American voters want more options than just Republican or Democrat.
I have liked some of the things that both Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have said; there were also things that I did not appreciate. I was bothered by Johnson missing the beat on Aleppo and Stein seeming to lean toward policies I disagree with in some areas, but more than that, I just am not comfortable casting a vote for either one because they were not my first choice, and I still think my first choice is the best one for me.
From the beginning I liked what Bernie Sanders had to say and what he wouldn’t say – he never knelt down in the gutter like Trump and Clinton, who have repeatedly gotten on their knees mired in the muck to attack each other. Bernie’s candidacy was fueled by high ideals and the notion of not the bluster of making America great again, but rather making it a better place to live for all people.
I know that many voters feel that a write-in vote is meaningless, but I beg to differ. A write-in vote can shake the world – if only more Americans would be able to join with me and others like me and take that giant leap. Your write-in vote is not just one small step calling for change in this election but a giant leap for redefining democracy in America. By choosing to write-in a candidate for president you are saying so much by not uttering a word and casting your ballot against the status quo.
Imagine if enough of us went into the voting booths all over the country on November 8 and wrote-in Bernie Sanders’s name? Perhaps he would not win, but if a tangible percentage of votes went to him it would send a message to the parties and to the politicians that people want change; it would signal that the “political revolution” that Sanders promised during his campaign is not over – it has only just begun!