The Folly of the Traditional Vote

Every four years in the United States a few familiar things happen. Two candidates are nominated to run for the presidency, some voters say they are offered a choice “between the lesser of two evils” and others look for a third-party candidate and get criticized for doing so.

New York Times opinion writer Charles M. Blow is one of those critics. Recently he published a column headlined “The Folly of the Protest Vote”[1] which blasts young people for not supporting Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump and looking at other candidates on the ballot. This is a foolish position to take and a gross affront to the right of voters to speak out through the ballot box or electronic voting machine.

The first point Mr. Blow tries to make is Clinton and Trump are not equally bad candidates. Mrs. Clinton is a career politician with a long list of positives and negatives, he writes and Mr. Trump is a light-in-the-loafer’s bigot who caters to the worst instincts of voters.

Clearly, he forgot Clinton’s hostile actions when seeking the Democratic nomination in 2008. While running against then Senator Obama, she and her team resorted to subtle and dog – whistle like tactics to make people uneasy about voting for an African-American. A Clinton surrogate referred to Somalia as “Obama’s Nation” on MSNBC[2] and Bill Clinton attempted to equate the Obama campaign to controversial former candidate Jesse Jackson’s, a fellow African-American Democrat who sought the presidency in the 1980s.[3]

Later, Blow claims individuals thinking about supporting Gary Johnson or Jill Stein are off base because neither will win the election. To be fair here, he’s probably correct. But what he doesn’t mention is the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld and the Green team of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka are each on the ballot in enough states to be mathematically capable of winning the electoral college,[4][5] clearly possible, but not probable.

He concludes by claiming protest voting or not voting is “childish, dumb and self –immolating.” It’s not. What is remarkably immature is when an older man looks down upon a younger generation wise enough to see the political system he and his peers have endorsed for years is decaying, corrupt and inefficient. If people my age want to use their free speech rights and vote for candidates outside the mainstream, they have every right in the world to do so.

[1] “The Folly of the Protest Vote” Visited September 22, 2016.

[2] “Clinton Surrogate says Obama is really from Somalia” Visited September 22, 2016.

[3] “Bill Clinton’s 8 Digs at Obama” Visited September 22, 2016.

[4]  “2016 Presidential Ballot Access Map” Visited September 22, 2016

[5] “Help Us put Our Campaign on the Ballot in Every State” Visited September 22, 2016

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