Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

This election year, third-party = turd-party


We’re getting nervous here at What The Hell. About Donald Drumpf (look it up). And since I never promised this would be a politics-free zone, permit me to riff a little on Paul Krugman’s NYT column this morning, in which he lays it out for those tempted to vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Headlines these past couple of weeks suggest that a dangerously high number of voters are leaning third-party.

I know of which I speak here because I voted for Ralph Nader — twice. I’m familiar with the idea that I can, and have the right to, make a statement with my vote, a statement that the system has failed and I’m not going to validate it by falling in line.

Krugman has the perfect response to that notion: “Nobody cares.” That’s right. Nobody cares about your statement, and in the end your statement is pointless because:

Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be sworn in as president next January. It won’t be Gary Johnson and it won’t be Jill Stein.

In other words, your third-party vote is going to help or hurt Clinton or Trump. But to be okay with that, you really ought to know what kind of ideas you’re confirming.

Krugman details the Libertarian Party platform. It includes gems like eliminating public education, getting rid of all regulation, and scrapping the income tax.

Plus Gary Johnson is a pothead.

Four words: “And what is Aleppo?”

As for Jill Stein, who the hell knows what she believes in, other than a rainbow sky and My Little Pony unicorns prancing through wind farms. I’m sure the Green Party platform is full of things I’m all for, but Jill Stein is not going to be president and there’s no such thing as unicorns.

So. To recap. This election is going to set the course of the country for the next generation (in part because of the Supreme Court). If you like the idea of unpermitted concealed carry (as Missouri just made law), if you want money and time wasted on a useless, impossible wall, if you think it’s okay to round up Muslims, if you believe in trickle-down economics that benefit the 1%, if you think you can be proud of a country represented on the world stage by Donald Trump, then go ahead and make your third-party statement.

But here’s what your statement really means: “I don’t care what happens. The way I feel about myself is more important.”

Read Krugman’s piece for more necessary encouragement.

14 comments on “This election year, third-party = turd-party

  1. pinklightsabre
    September 19, 2016

    Bingo, thanks for putting it in such realistic terms. And dispelling the unicorn myth, while you’re at it! You know, one benefit of a Trump presidency is the possibility your blog readership could go up, as people start googling WHAT THE HELL or worse, What the F — ?

    • Kevin Brennan
      September 19, 2016

      I’m willing to sacrifice blog hits for national sanity …

  2. Carrie Rubin
    September 19, 2016

    Hee hee, awesome title.

  3. kingmidget
    September 19, 2016

    You know I disagree with you on this. Just fundamentally disagree. I can appreciate how utterly wrong a President Drumpf would be and get the idea of voting against him is critical. But the reality for me is that Hillary is unfit for the Presidency. If she and her husband wanted to continue their role in politics through her, they should have done something other than milk special interests for every penny they possibly could get from them over the past 15 years. Yes, most of the controversy surrounding Hillary is manufactured, false, and fundamentally wrong. But at the end of the day, Hillary and her husband have taken over $150 million for their own personal gain from the very companies and special interests she is supposed to hold the hammer on in an effort to fix all that’s wrong with this country. Tell me, give me one example of any other candidate for such a high office who has done what she has done. Just one.

    There is nothing scarier to me this year than the idea of Trump becoming President. Nothing. But whether I vote for Hillary, Trump, Johnson, or Mickey Mouse will have no impact on that. As you know, we live in a state that is going for Clinton. And, if it doesn’t, she has no chance of winning.

    With that in mind, why can’t I vote my conscience? Why must I be compelled to vote for a candidate I simply cannot stand? You say “Nobody cares.” But that’s not true. I do. I care about who our next President is. I care enough to refuse to believe in the lesser of two bad options. Two bad options are still bad options.

    In your post, you make no case for voting for Hillary. Why should I vote for her? Independent of the anti-Trump view, why should I vote for her? Particularly since I live in California where it simply will not matter?

    I have thought I will vote for Johnson for the last month or two. But, yes, the more I hear about him, the more I am trouble by him. His record in New Mexico is not the sterling, city on a hill propaganda that he and his true believers project. He has many failings. Many.

    I don’t know what I’m going to do anymore. So, tell me, why should I vote for Hillary? Give me the top five reasons why I should. And none of them, none of them, can be anything related to “she’s not Drumpf.”

    • Kevin Brennan
      September 20, 2016

      I know we’re not going to see eye-to-eye on this, but I’ll give you some of my thoughts on it.

      Like I said, I voted for Nader in 2000, and I rejected the argument of people who said it was too risky, that we had to do everything we could to keep Dubya out of the White House. Well, in retrospect, I see that they were right. I couldn’t have imagined in 2000 how bad things could go: two endless wars, a colossal recession, and a relentless chipping away at the social contract that’s been in place for fifty years (not to mention the makeup of the Supreme Court).

      The way I see it now, I was part of a wave that gave Ralph Nader cred. It’s true that mine was a “safe vote” in California, but I was on the bandwagon, and the movement got fairly big not on a state-by-state basis but nationally, in the media.

      Trust me, I still feel like crap having participated in a movement that got Bush “selected.” And you’ll feel like crap if Trump gets elected.

      There’s also the issue of popular vote to be concerned about. I have a strange feeling that, even if Hillary is elected, the popular vote totals are going to be used to delegitimize her. That means every vote counts. Conscience-based statements are going to have an impact.

      In terms of Hillary’s fitness for the office, we disagree there too. She has the experience and temperament to serve. Trump doesn’t. One of them is going to be the president either way, so to my mind it’s an easy choice. And don’t forget, everyone who runs for the highest office now is stinkin’ rich, and if they’re not stinkin’ rich when they get in they will be within a few years of getting out. This is our system.

      My bottom line? It’s different this time because we have a recent memory of the consequences of voting our conscience when the stakes are this high. We know what can happen. I understand the desire to champion our principles, but this time pragmatism wins.

      We need to defeat Trump.

      • kingmidget
        September 20, 2016

        This is something I really struggle with. In 2000 I didn’t vote for President and ever since then I swore I would never do that and I also would not let a dangerous Republican (yes, there are some who aren’t dangerous) be elected if there was anything I could do to stop it. I learned that lesson with Dubya.

        But sixteen years later, I simply can’t vote for the Democrat. There are a number of reasons for that. First, she is no better than the vast majority of Republicans on foreign policy. Yes, Trump may be completely crazy and that’s a scary thought, but I think she’s almost as likely to take us and our soldiers into an unnecessary war. If she had her way as Secretary of State, we would have many, many boots on the ground in Syria. The idea of another war with American troops in another muslim country is just terrifying to me. Will we ever learn. I don’t think so, particularly not with her as President.

        As for the wealth of Presidents … I agree that they all become wealthy. But they don’t do it while remaining engaged in political office. That is the peculiarity of the Clintons — who have not just acquired wealth, but have acquired massive amounts of wealth beyond anything they will actually need by playing on theit continued political connections and political power to line their own pockets — while Hillary has stayed in politics and run for office. They are not the usual ex-politicians cashing in. There is no “ex” in front of the title with them. Their accumulation of wealth based on their political connections surpasses that of any prior president and she’s still in the game. There is just something fundamentally wrong with that for me.

        I have thought I would vote for Johnson, but he becomes more and more of a joke as the election gets nearer and I’m realizing his claimed New Mexico Miracle was nothing of the sort.

        I don’t know what I’m going to do this year. There is simply no good choice and I cannot vote for her if I want to remain principled. If I vote for her, it will only be as an anti-Trump vote and that just doesn’t seem like much of a choice.

      • Kevin Brennan
        September 21, 2016

        Well, you and I agree on one thing: what we’re witnessing this year is unprecedented in our lifetime.

        I see a moral imperative in keeping Donald Trump away from power, so that’s the way I have to roll. Good luck navigating your own course, Mark.

      • kingmidget
        September 21, 2016

        Can’t disagree with the objective.

  4. Audrey Driscoll
    September 19, 2016

    This reminds me of a dilemma voters often have here in Canada. We (like you guys) have an electoral system that works best when there are only two credible parties/candidates. (OK, the systems are totally different, but they have this in common). Except we have several credible parties — Conservatives, Liberals and the New Democratic Party. Also the Green Party and (in Quebec) the pro-separatist Bloc Quebecois. People struggle with the options — should I vote for a party that has no hope of forming government, but represents my principles better than the others, or should I hold my nose and vote for one of the Big 3 even though I don’t like any of them? “Strategic voting,” it’s called. And we’ve had governments elected with way fewer than 50% of votes. Our current government promised to reform the system by the next federal election (2019). There are committees working on it, I understand, looking at systems used in other countries. No idea how this will turn out, but you have my sympathies. (Hell, we may all need sympathy).

    • Kevin Brennan
      September 20, 2016

      It’s a real shame when voters have to contemplate a “strategy.” Mainly because there’s no way the independent strategies of millions of individuals will work out as planned. Sounds like a recipe for anarchy, doesn’t it?

      Sadly, the strategy of almost half of Americans is just not to vote at all …

      • Audrey Driscoll
        September 20, 2016

        Voter turnout has declined in Canada as well.

  5. ericjbaker
    September 23, 2016

    Four words: “And what is Aleppo?”

    So Gary Johnson isn’t a Marx Brothers fan. BIG DEAL!

    • Kevin Brennan
      September 23, 2016

      Dude, you and I think alike. I made that same joke to my wife, and she LOVED it! Leppo Marx, where are you!!!

      • ericjbaker
        September 25, 2016

        Our genius is palpable!

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