It’s Not a Protest Vote.

If she’s on my ballot in November, I am voting for Jill Stein.

I am not being contrary.

I am not casting a “protest vote.”

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are objectionable candidates for President of the United States, and neither should be considered “acceptable.”

…if I don’t vote my conscience, I will be admitting that one person cannot change the world, and that I shouldn’t even try.

I’m not going to run through the details again. I’ve done it before. Do your research before you troll me.

Jill Stein is not, as recent social media posts are trying to hammer home, an anti-vaxxer, homeopathy believing, nut job who thinks children shouldn’t ever use computers or that wifi is an impending health crisis.

She stands far to the left of libertarian whack job Gary Johnson, and far to the left of Hillary Clinton. Except for her goal of eliminating drone warfare, she stands in almost exactly the same shoes as Bernie Sanders. That’s a difference I can respect.

She stands on a different planet than Donald Trump, of course. He’s broadcasting from Planet Trump, somewhere far inside the asshole of the universe.

Stein’s platform represents what I want for the country, and for the world. If all the people who supported Bernie, and all the people who are casting their votes for Hillary out of fear and not ideological agreement, would consider voting for Stein, there would be no question that she might have a chance to compete for the presidency.

I have the right to vote for anyone on the ballot I prefer. A protest vote would be to scratch out all the names on the ballot and write-in Che Guevara or Edward Snowden. Don’t I wish.

If enough of those people cast their support now, she could be included in the presidential debates.

If enough people vote for her in the election, it could mean public funding for the Green Party in future elections, and dent the hegemony of the two major parties.

But if I don’t vote my conscience and simply vote for Hillary Clinton out of fear of Donald Trump (ooga boogah!), third parties gain no ground, no funding, no advantage to help undo the corporate-run major parties that would just be thrilled to eradicate any competition.

And if I don’t vote my conscience, and we don’t begin to undo this politics of false choices, all of the poor people and minorities will continue to line up behind the very people who decimated welfare, created the school-to-prison pipeline and for-profit prisons, and are systematically destroying the public school system in this country. Or they will fall into apathy and despair and not vote at all to help themselves.

And if I don’t vote my conscience, I will set an example that others who know me and trust me might follow.

And if I don’t vote my conscience, I will be admitting that one person cannot change the world, and that I shouldn’t even try.

Our representatives are not better than us. Their jobs are to represent us, to govern at our will for our best interests and the improvement of our lives. We are the people who gave them their fucking jobs, and we can take them away if we act swiftly and decisively when they don’t do them well. If you don’t believe this, you are failing your fellow citizens. You are failing democracy.

No, this isn’t a protest vote. I have the right to vote for anyone on the ballot I prefer. A protest vote would be to scratch out all the names on the ballot and write-in Che Guevara or Edward Snowden. Don’t I wish.

What this is is the system functioning properly.

But this badgering in the news media, this haranguing on social media, that is harassment. That is propaganda. That is misinformation.

I mean, the election is months away. Why aren’t we talking about issues? Why isn’t Clinton trying to appeal more enthusiastically to progressive voters who don’t trust her? I’d listen if she tried to address our doubts. I want real promises though. I want real remorse about some of her past actions. I want real outrage about the DNC bias during the primaries. I want real humility that she has obtained the nomination in a hard-fought primary against a once-in-a-lifetime politician. She has lots of time to tell us how she is a better candidate than Jill Stein (and not simply because she “gets things done” and has tons of corporate overlords). Seriously, if she demonstrates these things, I’ll listen and maybe reconsider.

That’s the way a voter should approach a candidate, people. With demands. With high expectations. And with boldness. Our representatives are not better than us. Their jobs are to represent us, to govern at our will for our best interests and the improvement of our lives. We are the people who gave them their fucking jobs, and we can take them away if we act swiftly and decisively when they don’t do them well. If you don’t believe this, you are failing your fellow citizens. You are failing democracy.

Voting my conscience, advocating for representatives who actually represent my concerns and ethics, is not protest. It is a requirement of a conscientious citizen of a democracy. Them’s the rules. If you choose not to follow them, and prefer to separate yourselves into two big herds, blaring out shame for those not fawning over the emperor’s new wardrobe, that’s your choice. It isn’t, however, very thoughtful or democratic.The Constitution didn’t declare that there would be two political parties and only two political parties ever. Why are we behaving as if it had then?

From that perspective, my perspective, it would seem that those who vote against their consciences, and against their best interests, are the ones casting the protest votes. And they’re protesting the very system that created this country, in favor of a hegemony of the privileged rich that bullies us into voting in two straight, highly synchronized lines.

No, my vote isn’t a protest. It’s clarity. It’s sanity. It’s American.

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