I’m sitting here, angry and frustrated. Heartbroken.
I watched so many people on my Facebook feed talk about how they were going to vote for a third party… whether it was out of principle or protest. Because they “just couldn’t vote for either candidate.”
You’d have to be delusional not to understand that while we do have third parties – we are not set up for a third party system. What ends up happening is that a third party forms a coalition well after Democrats and Republicans begin campaigning, so all they do is gain a small amount of momentum once the primaries are complete.
So votes for third party candidates (and write-in candidates) end up splitting the vote between the two main parties. And typically cause close races and upsets. Like they did with Bush & Gore, and like they did tonight.
I noticed a common thread amongst those third party voters. All were white. All were straight. None identify as LGBTQ. Most had a college education. (These were the ones who were open about it in their feed)
In short, they’re the people who would do just fine no matter who came into power.
You and I can discuss whether or not it’s a shame that we don’t have a system that supports a third party (it is – third parties are historically agents of major political change). But that doesn’t change that of the two major candidates, you had a person who spent their entire career in public service, but who admittedly is not a perfect person. And you had a celebrity whose entire platform catered to white individuals, by wanting to undo progress. That painted all Muslims as dangerous, painted Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers. That said whatever it felt like, and pretended they didn’t say things that they did. Whose candidate spent more time on Twitter bashing his enemies, than he did actually learning about foreign policy and the basics of how the government works.
It doesn’t change that in order to stand by his principles, you had to ignore how his presidency could affect all of those minority groups. And decide that it would be okay, because it wouldn’t affect you. Because you could stand by your “principles.” (I’m sure a lot of them are the same people who sniff that they’ll move to Canada. Because they have the resources to do so)
I’m standing by my own. Because, imperfect system or not, it’s our duty to try to pick the candidate that we know has a shot at winning and who would do the best job. And all those privileged third party voters… ignored so many people in our country that this administration would leave behind.
But the blame isn’t solely on third party voters. A lot of the blame lies with the television media who gave Donald Trump a platform when he was a joke. Who brought him on to morning shows because his outrageousness drew in viewers who wanted to see what he’d say next. And they normalized his hate, his arrogance, his ignorance.
When it was clear that he had a shot at winning, they tried to backtrack – but it was too late. Every television station is guilty of this, local to national to cable networks. It’s one of the reasons I’ve begun relying on newspapers for coverage.
So thank you, ambivalent white people and ratings hungry networks. Thank you very much. The damage that this presidency is already doing will take time to untangle.
But really, thank you for giving me a focus for the next four years. I am, as I have always been, committed to making the country a more fair place for all Americans (and not just to improve my own rights – I will readily admit there are minority groups worse off than me, and nobody deserves to live in fear). You’ve just lit a fire under me.
To everyone upset- Stay. Fight. Don’t give up on America. Show those filled with hate (whether it’s a small flicker of it or a bonfire) that they can’t destroy our light.
It doesn’t change the bitter disappointment. The lack of faith I have in people, for being able to overlook someone who regularly gaslights everyone around him. Because the party he represents would benefit their status quo.
Edit: There’s a lot more at work here – but I’m going to need a lot more time to mentally unpack and discuss the white women who refused to vote for Hillary. (Which mostly is on how divisive the primary elections were)