Voting My Conscience

Okay–I have to get this off my chest.

Dana Milbank said it best, in a recent column in the Washington Post:

Moderates and reasonable Republicans who are considering voting for Trump portray it as a choice between two unpalatable options. But it isn’t. It’s a choice between one unpalatable option and one demagogue who operates outside of our democratic traditions, promoting racism, condoning violence and moving paranoia into the mainstream. This presidential election, unlike the six others I have covered, is not about party or ideology. It’s about Trump’s threat to our tradition of self-government.

More recently, Thomas Friedman made a similar point in a column for the New York Times.

Anyone who says it doesn’t matter whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton wins this election needs their head examined. The damage that Trump could do to our nation with his blend of intellectual laziness, towering policy ignorance and reckless impulsiveness is in a league of its own. Hillary has some real personal ethics issues she needs to confront, but she’s got the chops to be president.

These and a number of similar opinion pieces are efforts to get through to people who dislike both major-party candidates and insist that they intend to “vote their consciences” and avoid “dirtying” themselves, by opting for a third-party candidate.

Let’s “get real,” as the kids might say. No third-party candidate has even the remotest chance of winning. (And if, by some unimaginable chance, one did, they couldn’t govern from outside America’s a two-party system; like it or not, that’s the reality within which we operate.) Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.

Here’s my message to those who are planning to “vote their consciences.”

You may think that casting a “wasted” vote makes you virtuous, but the reality is that every non-Clinton vote cast in November helps Donald Trump.

I realize that many people detest Hillary Clinton. I am not one of the Clinton haters, and I have my own opinions about the source of the intense animus people feel for her, but I am not going to waste blog space arguing about “Hillary hate.” I am going to argue that those who hate her should hold their noses and vote for her anyway.

Even if most of the accusations thrown at Hillary Clinton were true, that would mean she’s not much different from other, similarly flawed politicians–several of whom have occupied the Oval Office. As libertarian P.J. O’Rourke put it when he declared he’d be voting for Clinton, “she’s wrong, but she’s wrong within normal parameters.”

Donald Trump, on the other hand, really does represent an existential threat, not just to American values, the Constitution and the rule of law, but to the world. The thought of someone as ignorant, venal, thin-skinned and volatile having his finger on the nuclear button should be enough to make sane people shudder. (It has certainly had that effect on virtually every living high-ranking member of the defense community, both Republican and Democratic.)

The identity of Trump’s core supporters–the racists, misogynysts, anti-Semites and xenophobes who have crawled out from under their rocks to cheer him on–should give pause to anyone willing to narrow the margin by which America rejects him.

In 1991, Trump supporter and Klansman David Duke ran for Governor of Louisiana against Edwin Edwards, who had faced two racketeering trials before being acquitted in 1986. Edwards won, after a campaign featuring a popular and memorable bumper sticker reading “Vote for the Crook. It’s important.”

I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton is a crook, or anything close to it. But even if you do believe that, you should vote for her.

It’s important.


  1. The #1 person I’d like to have as president is Elizabeth Warren. Explain to me again how my distaste for Hillary is rooted in sexism????

  2. I’ve always had trouble conceptionalizing how the liberal mind works. This piece takes the cake. Does it bother anyone that a vote for Clinton is a vote for political corruption, malfeasance in public office and a shill for foreign billionaires to give money to the Clinton Foundation to be laundered into the Clinton campaign for government favors. In my study and opinion Hillary Clinton is a criminal and was not indicted for her crimes because of Obama ordering his puppets to give her a pass. Mr trump other than being a bit bloviational is not and has not been a bigot or discriminator and has always been an American first with a good heart to make America better. He believes that Americans come first. I am sick and tired of corruption in DC as well as the media. He is being attacked because the corrupt freeloaders in government are concerned for their jobs.. Shiela, I believe us believe what you say. That’s too bad for America..sounds a bit like how Hillary faces life. Who quite pathologically can’t remember every yesterday. Your labelling of Trumps supporters as u have is a disgrace and sounds more like Nazi propaganda far from the truth as possible. On the other hand you describe Hillary and her minions as a Master Race who will grow America again without bad seeds. Simplifying above….I am none of the above and support Mr Trump to make my country great again. I remember those times. I am 86 now and have watched the decline of the national spirit since Barry Obama took will become worse for the progeny of the future with Clinton’s election..may I suggest that et al come down from the tower and feel life like it is today.

  3. az; have you been paying attention to Trump’s campaign? He is the ONLY alternative to Hillary. It is like asking if you would rather step in cow patties or horse manure…horse manure is easier to clean off your shoes.

  4. No to trump and Hillary.
    My Choice for President would be an African American woman who is too smart to run.

    Because I dislike her and wholly believe she is corrupt to the core, why do many in your tribe call me sexist?

    You call out Trump for being on his 3rd wife as if that is your business, and never mention that while the Clintons have been married, he has admitted to 3 affairs, has been accused multiple times of sexual assault, she dismissed these accusers before their day in court, and stood by her man. I’d call it a draw.


    Yes, she had a hand in all of it. People went to jail.

    40 times she couldn’t remember when talking to FBI

  5. I would sooner live in a cave the rest of my life than to live under a Trump or Clinton presidency. Everyone thinks Clinton’s an innocent being picked on by sore losers. No one wants to believe there was massive voter fraud committed by the DNC and Clinton across the United States. No one cares about her setting up delegates in her favor before the primaries even started.

    As for Donald Trump, he is merely exposing what the Republican Party has become behind closed doors. They’ve manipulated this country into a corporate rule state. They’ve divided this nation to the point of toppling like the Roman Empire. They’re stealing our public lands and National Parks for the use of corporations to do with as they please. These and many other issues have been placed on this country by the Tea Party, Koch-owned Republicans through stealth and bribery from big money. Now that Trump has exposed the real Republican Party the Party is turning on him and pretending innocence. Just like Clinton pretends innocence.

    No thank you to either one of those liars, cheaters, schemers, and manipulators. We had the right man bringing us back together but Dreadful Debbie and Horrible Hillary shot him down at every turn of the second hand. With ample proof of election fraud, the snobbery that makes up the Clinton Camp tells us there was no election fraud in the primaries. Four people who were taking the election fraud cases to court are already dead. Sound pretty Clintonesque to me!

    Sorry, Ms. Kennedy, but you’ve got it all wrong. Voting is one of the most important issues to the people of this country. We are constantly being told to vote for Hillary or we’ll wind up with Donald Trump. It’s nobody’s business for whom anyone votes. Period. I will either write in Bernie Sanders or not vote at all if that’s not possible. This is how Hillary Clinton and her gang of thugs has divided the Democratic Party – the Party few can trust any longer.

    As for those who say a vote for Jill Stein or any other third party candidate is a vote for Trump. No. It’s a vote for Jill Stein or any other third party candidate. Hopefully there are enough of us left who can think for ourselves to get the message across. We’re through with corruption and we, more than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, want our country back. The corporate rule is finished, or will be if we have to stop buying anyone’s products other than food stuff.

  6. I will do as I’m told,I will vote for Hillary Clinton. As Madalaine Albright has said,500,000 dead Iraqi children are worth the efforts to expand American Exceptionalism. We are God’s favorite nation! Hillary will continue the important work of turning the ME into more chaos. Who cares? They’re not OUR children! Our children are exceptional!! Chaos is needed in the ME and she will continue the efforts she started as SoS. The progressive nation of Saudi Arabia and its unassailable leadership will be protected by America under a Clinton presidency. That is good. Also,Hillary is a friend to Wall St. Every American owes its soul to Wall St. Greed is good and if Wall St gets a little out of hand Hillary will tell them to CUT IT OUT!

    Moreover,the working class in America needs to eat more shit-sandwiches. After all,they don’t have college educations and are racist. Perhaps Hillary can ask her mentor Henry Kissinger for a solution to the working-class problem in America? Hopefully,a Clinton administration will use Pinochet style tactics against these worthless people. I think 47% of Americans are worthless at this point.

    Yes,I have seen the light and will support Hillary Clinton. The oligarchs supporting the Democratic candidate have the interests of the people at heart. The Oligarchs willing to support the DNC just happen to be the most altruistic of oligarchs. We are lucky to have such oligarchs. There is plenty of tangible PROOF Hillary has a superlative acumen. She knows the workings of computers (arcane knowledge even the evil and venalTrump cannot comprehend) and the importance of cyber-warfare. She has super-smart people such as the angelic Victoria Nuland on her team. Her foundation brought Haiti into the 21st century. Hillary has done good deeds in Honduras–deeds worthy of approbation from Mother Teresa herself!

    Let Big Oil,Big Pharma,Wall St,The Insurance Lobby,The Private For Profit Prison Complex and our revered Military Contractors …may they enjoy the continued success of their endeavors–and they will under a HRC regime.

    As a member of the enlightened,I will support the status quo. I will support more of the same. I will blindly support Hillary Clinton. Trump has caused more damage to the world than Clinton mentor Henry Kissinger. We must STOP TRUMP!! He is extremely venal and evil.

    Vote Hillary. We need realpolitik in our daily lives.

  7. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Such a dilemma! Good arguments for voting either for Hillary or not at all. Let’s see what develops between now and November 8, maybe the choice will become clearer. But let’snot forget that all promises made by candidates are—fill in the blank.

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